“There is one dessert I like to make that’s pretty fast, because it doesn’t require baking. Does your friend like nuts?”
“Oh, yes,” Gladys said. “She definitely does!”
“Well, then, let’s give this a try!”
Gleefully, Gladys followed Mrs. Anderson into the kitchen. Mrs. Anderson pulled out a battered brown volume called Street (and Dirt Road) Foods of the Malay Peninsula from her cookbookcase and passed it to Gladys.
“The recipe’s on page twenty-seven,” Mrs. Anderson told her. She was already pulling ingredients out of the cupboard–flour, sugar, peanuts. “What do you think?”
Gladys turned to the page and found a picture of what looked like a pancake folded in half over some kind of filling. It might be risky to serve Charissa an exotic foreign dessert–Gladys had been thinking more along the lines of brownies or cupcakes. Then again, Charissa did just buy a pound of baklava. The heading for the recipe said Apam Balik, which small letters underneath translated as Malaysian Peanut Pancake. That might not be so bad.
“Trust me, if she likes nuts, she’ll love this,” Mrs. Anderson said, lifting the book out of Gladys’s hands and propping it open against the toaster. “Now, we start by mixing a simple batter. Have you ever used a whisk?”
“Um…” Gladys wasn’t sure how much of her cooking experience she wanted to reveal to Sandy’s mom. “Once or twice,” she said finally.
The next few minutes found Gladys whisking eggs, water, milk, and oil together in a large bowl, then adding flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Every time she caught Mrs. Anderson looking at her, she tried to mess up a little–hold the whisk at the wrong angle, or change direction midwhip so the batter slopped over the side of the bowl. “Oops,” she said, hoping Mrs. Anderson was buying the amateur act. So far, it seemed to be working; twice Mrs. Anderson left her peanuts on the cutting board to come over and help Gladys get her technique right.
When the batter was ready, Mrs. Anderson heated a frying pan on the stovetop and splashed a little oil inside so the pancakes wouldn’t stick.
“Ready?” she said, passing Gladys a ladle.
“Ready!” Gladys answered, and gently ladled a scoop of batter into the pan. It felt great to be cooking again.
“Wow, you really have a knack for this,” Mrs. Anderson gushed. “It took me years to make perfect circles like that.”
Fudge, Gladys thought. She would make the next one less perfect.
Mrs. Anderson continued to talk as the pancake cooked. “This was my favorite snack when I traveled in Malaysia,” she said.
“Wow, you’ve actually been to Malaysia?” Gladys said.
“Oh, yes, I backpacked all around Asia before Sandy was born,” she said. “But I spent the most time in India, studying yoga.”
India! Ever since Gladys had eaten at the Singhs’ house, she’d dreamed of traveling there. She had about a hundred questions to ask, but just then Mrs. Anderson handed her a spatula and said, “Okay, I think it’s time to check whether the bottom’s finished cooking.” She winked. “I bet you know what to do.”
The bottom of the pancake was a lovely golden brown, so Mrs. Anderson dropped some bits of butter across the surface and spread a thick layer o peanuts and sugar on top. She instructed Gladys to fold the pancake in half with the spatula and press on it.
“Done!” Mrs. Anderson cried,” and Gladys lifted the finished pancake onto a waiting plate.
While she ladled more batter into the pan (in a much-less-perfectly-round shape this time), Mrs. Anderson sliced up the first pancake. “We’d better do a taste test,” she said. One of the most important rules about cooking is that you never want to serve something you haven’t tasted yourself.” She popped a strip of pancake into her mouth. “Plus,” she said while chewing, “it’s no fun to make something yummy if you don’t get to eat it, too!”
Gladys tasted the pancake and thought it was delicious–the perfect combination of fluffy and crunchy, sweet and savory. But would Charissa like it?
Talk about delicious sounding, right? I had never heard of this dessert before but sounds easy enough that I may have to give it a try myself! I found a blogger online that has a fabulous step-by-step instruction for doing just that.