When I was in uni, my friends were delighted to share a kaya recipe as they claimed that it’s really simple. Unfortunately, we never got to make any because there were no fresh pandan (screwpine) leaves around and those frozen ones from Chinatown didn’t emit any pandan odour.
Fast forward to the present, I took a break from testing cake recipes and decided to make myself a bottle of pandan kaya. I’m not fond of stirring the jam for 2 hours or making green-coloured jam, so I chose the recipe from everybodyeatswell where it requires only 15 minutes of cooking time and a favourite ingredient that gives a distinctive flavour — gula Melaka (palm sugar). The result? Creamy kaya with the right amount of sweetness and pandan taste.
Recipe from everybodyeatswell, altered a little by me
4 egg yolks, room temp
3 tablespoons gula Melaka (palm sugar)*
3 tablespoons castor sugar
200 ml undiluted coconut milk, fresh or canned (I used canned)
4 fresh pandan leaves, tied and knotted (I used 5)
*I only have palm sugar in cylindrical blocks so I used a pestle & mortar to break it into paste.
1. Beat the 4 egg yolks thoroughly using a hand whisk.
2. Combine the palm sugar, castor sugar, coconut milk and pandan leaves in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon. When the mixture begins to simmer, turn off the heat.
3. Pour 1/2 of the coconut milk mixture into the egg yolks, stirring at the same time with a hand whisk.
4. Pour the combined mixture back into the remaining coconut milk in the saucepan and turn the heat back on to medium-low. Keep stirring until it thickens. The original recipe suggests to stir for 15 minutes but at the 8th minute my kaya became curdled. If you have smooth & silky jam – good, if not, do not worry.
5. Remove the pandan leaves. Depending on your preference, you can have chunky kaya or if you’re like me who prefer smooth & creamy kaya, transfer the hot curdled kaya into another bowl and start whisking by using a hand mixer until the kaya becomes smooth.
6. Transfer the thickened kaya into a clean sterilized glass jar, without the jar lid, to cool.
7. If you can’t wait for the jam to cool completely, you can take a spoonful of kaya and lick it — trust me on this, it’s really good when it’s warm. The pandan kaya can be kept up until a week in the fridge.
This homemade kaya in a jar works great as a gift. I made a jar for a colleague of mine as a farewell gift and attached a wooden spoon together with a “good luck!” note by using a brown string.