Since getting more involved in the food vlogging/blogging community last summer, I’ve made a number of social media friends who are trying to do the exact same thing I am: share their love of food, culture, and travel. I’ve had a lot of conversations with a number of them over Instagram, YouTube, and even in person/text. It’s been a great experience for me to build a network of like-minded food lovers who want to do something bigger than themselves.
What has also happened, which is not a surprise, is that my bookmarked list of dishes “to make” has only grown exponentially because of this network. Because as we are all wannabe “influencers,” these individuals have also influenced me to want to try to make new dishes or experiment with ingredients I’m not super familiar with. I’ve expanded my knowledge of different regions of India (my latest area of interest is Gujarat), had my interest piqued more in Palestinian and Lebanese dishes, and have started discovering new ingredients I didn’t know much about from Southeast Asia.
One baked good I was recently enamored with was pandan butterscotch mochi. It was posted by a woman who is originally from Taiwan but is living in the United Kingdom now. It’s basically a play on Hawaiian coconut butter mochi, but instead of butter, its fat is coconut oil, and it’s flavored with pandan paste and swirled with a delicious butterscotch made from melted down butter, heavy cream, and the most magical ingredient: gula Melaka, which is a rich, toasty, smokey caramelly sugar made from the coconut trees of Malaysia. Alas, I was not able to find gula Melaka, but I was able to source its next door neighbor from my favorite Vietnamese grocery store, which is gula Jawa from Indonesia. And I know for sure that the product I got is pretty pure because not only was it pricey, but the label said that it’s 95% coconut sugar with only 5% cane sugar. I shaved off some of the gula Jawa from the block I got and put it in my mouth; it was heavenly and incredible. And once made into a butterscotchy caramel, it just sang. I could eat spoonfuls of this and call it a day.