“Kaya” or “Srikaya” is a sweet and rich coconut jam popular in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. It takes only 5 ingredients and 20 minutes to whip up this luxurious spread you will want with your toast for breakfast every morning.
Coconut jam is immensely popular in SouthEast Asia; particularly Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Here in Malaysia, coconut jam is known as “Kaya”. In Malay, the word kaya also means rich; most likely referring to the rich texture of this delicious spread. It has a deep, sweet caramel flavor paired with coconut milk and the amazing aroma of pandan (screwpine) leaves.
Kaya toast (plain buttered toast with a generous spread of kaya on top) can be found in most local coffee shops as it is a very popular breakfast (or snack) item. Kaya is also used as a topping for a few local desserts.
The caramelization of the sugar in kaya is what gives it the depth of flavor. With the traditional method of preparing kaya, it takes a loooong time for the sugar to caramelize (sometimes hours!)
Fortunately, this easy “short-cut” method only takes about 20 minutes to make and does not compromise at all on the flavor.
Equipment for making Coconut Jam (Kaya)
Making kaya requires a double boiler but if you don’t have an actual double boiler unit, you can easily set one up using equipment you most likely already have in your kitchen.
All you will need is a medium-sized stainless steel or glass bowl, and a small pot or saucepan. If you are using a glass bowl, make sure it is ovenproof, thick and sturdy.
The glass bowl should fit snugly on the saucepan. After you fill the saucepan with about 2 inches of water, the bottom of the bowl should not touch the surface of the water.
In addition to this double boiler setup, you will also need a small frying pan to caramelize the sugar. This is the secret step to giving this super-quick kaya recipe that deep caramel flavor.
How to Make Coconut Jam (Kaya)
Whisk 4 egg yolks in a medium stainless steel or ovenproof glass bowl.
Add 1 cup of coconut milk, 1 fresh or frozen pandan leaf (tied into a knot), 2 tablespoons of sugar and a pinch of salt to the egg yolks.
Set 3 more tablespoons of sugar aside for the caramel. I typically place these 3 tablespoons of sugar directly on to my frying pan (but NOT set it over the heat yet) so it’s readily available when I need it.
Note: The pandan (screwpine) leaf is optional but I highly recommend using it if you have access to it. If you are not able to find fresh pandan leaves, you should be able to find frozen pandan leaves in most Asian supermarkets’ freezer section.
Fill a small saucepan with approximately 2 inches of water and bring it to a light boil over medium-high heat. Set the bowl with your kaya mixture over the saucepan.
Whisk frequently for 5 minutes. The mixture will start to thicken so stir often to keep it smooth.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, then carefully remove the bowl from the saucepan using oven mitts or a kitchen towel. Set it aside.
Place the small frying pan with the 3 tablespoons of sugar over the medium-high heat. Allow the sugar to melt and caramelize.
This will take about 2 minutes or so but don’t step away from the stovetop as the sugar can burn easily. Use a heat-resistant silicone spatula to gently stir the caramel.
As soon as the caramel turns a nice golden brown color (be careful not to burn it!), add it to the kaya mixture.
Place the bowl back on your saucepan, then place the saucepan over the heat. Continue to cook the kaya for another 5 to 10 minutes over medium-low heat, whisking frequently.
The longer you cook the kaya, the thicker it will become.
Keep in mind that once the kaya is cooled, it will thicken even more so you should remove it from the heat just before it reaches your desired consistency and thickness.
Remove the pandan leaf and discard.
Allow the kaya to cool completely, then pour it into a jar. This recipe yields about 1 cup so just a medium sized jar will do.
Spread the coconut jam over buttered toast, or just enjoy it by the spoonful! 🙂 They also make fantastic gifts.
The kaya will keep in the fridge for about a week..if it’s not all gone by then.
Coconut Jam (Kaya)
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 pandan leaf fresh or frozen, optional but highly recommended
- 5 tablespoons sugar divided
- 1 pinch salt
- Whisk the egg yolks in a medium stainless steel or ovenproof glass bowl.
- Add coconut milk, pandan leaf (tied into a knot), 2 tablespoons of sugar and a pinch of salt to the egg yolks. (Set the additional 3 tablespoons of sugar aside)
- Fill a small saucepan with approximately 2 inches of water and bring it to a light boil over medium-high heat. Set the bowl with your kaya mixture over the saucepan.
- Whisk the kaya mixture frequently for 5 minutes.
- Use oven mitts to remove the bowl from the saucepan and set it aside. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Pour the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar in a small frying pan and set it over the medium-high heat. Allow the sugar to melt and caramelize. Use a heat-resistant silicone spatula to gently stir the caramel.
- As soon as the caramel turns into a nice golden brown color, add it to the kaya mixture.
- Place the bowl back on the saucepan, then place the saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Continue cooking the kaya for an additional 5 – 10 minutes, whisking frequently.
- Remove the pandan leaf and discard it.
- Allow the kaya to cool completely, then pour it into a medium-sized jar. Keep in the fridge for up to a week.