Sunday, January 29, 2012
Kaya means rich

That's kaya, a Malaysian coconut spread. Like lemon butter/curd, it's like a custard, made with eggs and sugar. My grandmother and mother used to make it when I was growing up, and since moving out, I have had to put up with the thin commercial stuff thickened with starches. It's simply not the same!

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to try this. I make lemon butter all the time and don't end up with scrambled eggs..heck, I have made hollandaise sauce and not ended up with scrambled eggs, so why can't I make kaya? I looked up recipes online and found one that sounded "authentic". Well.. no, didn't work. The recipe used 10 eggs to 1 can of coconut cream and it turned out eggy in flavour and really sweet. I also overcooked it and it turned out like... yup, you guessed it! SCRAMBLED EGGS!

So, back to the drawing board. That's where mum came in (thanks, mum!) with her recipe:
the cream of one coconut
7 eggs
600g sugar
pandan/screwpine leaves
1 tablespoon sugar for caramelisation (optional)

Now, I live in Sydney and don't have easy access to fresh coconut. I use the canned stuff. So I tweaked the recipe and this is my version of mum's recipe
1 400ml can of Ayam brand premium coconut cream
7 eggs
5-6 pandan/screwpine leaves
550g sugar

Crack all 7 eggs into a large bowl. Mix gently with a fork to break the yolks (don't whip air into it). Shake the can of coconut cream and add to eggs. Stir with for to combine. Scoop up 1/2 a cup of sugar from the 550g. Add the remaining sugar to the egg and coconut cream mixture. Mix gently to combine.

Wash the pandan leaves and tear length wise. Knot every 4 or 5 strips together and place in a double boiler. I do not have a double boiler so I perched a bowl over pot. Strain the egg mixture over the knotted pandan leaves into the double boiler to remove impurities. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Make sure you scrape the sides and bottom. Keep stirring till the mixture is as thick as pouring custard.

Now, put the 1/2 cup of sugar that you had set aside into a small pot. Add a tablespoon of sugar and heat. The sugar will dissolve and then caramelise. Do not stir the caramel. Keep stirring the custard. When the colour of the caramel is a lovely golden brown, turn off the heat and pour the caramel into the custard mixture. the darker your caramel, the darker your kaya will be. Keep stirring the custard.

At this point, mum leaves the custard to steam for another 30-45 minutes. I am not so trusting after my scrambled eggs experience, and so I stand and I stir the custard till it is the consistency of a thick spread. All up this takes about another 30 minutes. So if you have a bar stool, it will be handy!

Remove the pandan leaves before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.

Enjoy spread on thick toast with lashings of butter, or if you're like us, spread some on toast, add matured cheddar cheese and grill. Yum!

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