Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Homemade Coconut Jam - Kaya

I have always love coconut jam. In fact, that used to be the only thing I will eat with my morning toast. Butter and coconut jam on thick toast for breakfast. Back in Malaysia where I grew up, the Punjabi man used to sell the Benggali bread, that is what we called it, out of his makeshift green bread box at the back of his bike. It is essentially bread baked till the crust is extremely brown. All the crust is then trimmed off and you eat only the cottony white bread.

The special bread has an extremely soft texture and very light. Compared to Canadian white bread, I have to say, you will probably have to eat 3 slices of the Benggali bread toast to feel the satisfaction of a slice of Canadian white bread.

Another thing about the Benggali Bread, it is usually sold in a loaf of two or more. Or maybe that is just how my grandma used to get them. When toasted, the bread becomes extremely crunchy and it did not give any chew at all compared to biting into a regular toast. You can literally crumble the toast with your hand and all that is left is breadcrumbs. Hmmm.......that will be a very good bread for breadcrumbs and croutons.

Back to the coconut jam or kaya, it is a thick, gooey, sugary sweet spread. You can eat it with butter on toast, use it as a filling for steamed bun, as a filling for swiss rolls or just use it as a sweet curd for scones. If you love coconut, you will definitely love this jam.

When I first started making homemade kaya, I have tried atleast 10 different kaya recipes, all yielding different results in term of texture and sweetness. I like my kaya spreadable, which eliminated most of the nyonya kaya recipe I found online as they tend to be really thick. I also like my kaya to have an amber brown color from caramel, of moderate sweetness and no pandan paste, extract or food coloring in it. I guess I am a purist when it comes to kaya. Most of the recipe called for equal portions of eggs, sugar and coconut milk. Knotted pandan leaves are a good way to add a hint of pandan flavor without overpowering the original taste of kaya.

Homemade Kaya
(Makes one pint)
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar + 1/2 cup sugar for caramel
2/3 cup or 200ml of coconut milk
2 pandan leaves, knotted

Step 1: Gather all the ingredients. Fill a pot halfway with water. Boil water over high heat.

Step 2: Whisk eggs with 1 cup of sugar till sugar is fully dissolved.

Step 3: Add in coconut milk and stir to mix well.
Step 4: Strain mixture into a heavy bottom pan.

Step 5: Place saucepan onto the pot with simmering water. Turn heat to low. If you own a double boiler, just use your double boiler for this step.

Step 6: Place knotted pandan leaves into egg mix. Stir constantly.

Step 7: Meanwhile, in a pan, pour 1/2 cup of sugar and turn heat to medium high. Remember to keep stirring egg mix on makeshift double boiler.

Step 8: Cook caramel till amber in color

Step 9: Remove egg mix from pot for a while. Discard pandan leaves. Add in caramel to egg mix.

Caramel may harden a little when poured into egg mix. Do not worry. It will dissolves after a minute of stirring.

Step 10: Place saucepan back on the pot of simmering water. Continue to stir egg mix for another 20 minutes.

Step 11: The coconut jam may be thick enough at this point for a spreadable consistency. If you would like it thicker, continue to cook on double boiler for another 20 minutes or more to desired thickness. Note that the jam is slightly lumpy.

Step 12: Place jam in a blender and process till smooth. Alternatively, use a hand blender and process till smooth.

Step 13: Let cool and place in a container. Keep up to a month in the fridge.
Nothing beats toast with kaya and butter for a sweet breakfast, afternoon tea or light snack.

Note: You can omit the pandan leaves if you cannot find it. The kaya will still taste fine without the pandan flavor. Alternately, use a drop of pandan flavoring or pandan paste to infuse the flavor. If you are using pandan paste, your kaya may come out looking green, which is the color of pandan kaya.

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