*Also available made-to-order at $10 per 16 oz tub
After several failed attempts trying to make kaya the lazy way (using the jam function of a breadmaker then blending it afterwards), I have resigned myself to the fact that there simply is no shortcut- 75-90 minutes of patience and manual labour are absolutely essential in achieving the right consistency, colour and flavour for this luscious glossy spread. Whilst blending a lumpy breadmaker-made jam may remove its watery scrambled-egg appearance and make it smoother, the texture usually ends up too thin and drippy (due to the excess moisture created by cooking in an enclosed space) or too matte-like and pasty (like peanut butter instead of a shiny curd).
Kaya translates literally to mean "rich" in Malay, and that is precisely what this delicious Malaysian staple is- a thick, sticky, luxurious blend of coconut cream, eggs, and sugar fragranced with the aroma of pandan (screwpine) leaves. The beautiful amber hue is achieved by adding a bit of melted caramelised sugar towards the end- if you prefer your kaya pale then by all means omit this step, and use a touch of pandan paste instead of leaves if desired (though your jam will be a green version).
It's easy but tedious- if you like kaya, have time on your hands and don't mind standing in front of the stove for over an hour (or pull up a chair to sit like I did), then I'd say you're in for a highly rewarding experience :) Happy stirring!
Homemade Kaya (Malaysian Coconut Egg Jam)
Whisk together lightly:
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
Stir in 1 cup (200g) caster sugar until completely dissolved.
Stir in 300ml coconut milk, then pour entire mixture through a sieve into a large mixing bowl (to make sure all those lumpy eggy bits are removed).
Add 3-4 pandan leaves, knotted, then plonk your bowl above a pot of simmering water (the bottom of my bowl was submerged in the water) or use a double boiler if you have one.
Cook over low heat for about an hour, stirring continuously.
Stir stir stir stir stir.
Bring a book or laptop if you get bored, but make sure you continue stirring with the other hand.
If it starts getting lumpy, stir HARDER.
After 45 minutes- a teensy bit darker and thicker. I won't lie, as you can see
it takes AGES before any discernable change happens.
After about 75 minutes, dissolve 4 tbsp caster sugar with a bit of water in a separate pan over low heat until a dark golden caramel is formed. I would recommend you switch off the heat a few seconds before it becomes the colour you want, as it will continue browning. Be careful as caramel burns very fast!
Stir the caramel into the hot kaya (it should look golden brown like the picture). Don't worry
if the caramel hardens upon contact- continue cooking and it will eventually dissolve.
Add more darkened caramel if the colour isn't too your liking.
Cook another 10-15 mins until the desired consistency is achieved (remember
it will thicken once cooled). Remove the pandan leaves, scraping off
any kaya stuck to them (nobody likes wastage!)
Let cool, then pour into a jar and store refrigerated. Best enjoyed sandwiched roti bakar style with slabs of butter, or spread on your morning toast, or slathered on crackers or hot waffles or pancakes, or as an accompaniment to sweet sticky rice, or as a dip for breadsticks, or spooned directly into your mouth, or licked off your sticky fingers...