Kaya: Coconut Egg Jam

Kaya lives up to its name; it means ‘rich’ in malay and rich, it definitely is, both in flavour and consistency. It is a spread my family and most Malaysians love and grew up on; well, I loved it as a kid until we had too much of it; kaya on toast, kaya on Hup Seng cream crackers with butter, kaya sandwich in our school lunch box, kaya puffs for Sunday brunch, kaya with kuih for tea time, kaya balls from the night market..so yes, I did get sick of kaya. But having lived in Melbourne for almost a decade and being parted from all the tasty delights that you can get on a daily basis back in Malaysia, you tend to miss all that. Although kaya is readily sold in jars at asian grocery stores here, I still prefer to make my own. After all, the main components are just whole eggs, coconut milk, sugar, pandan (screwpine) leaves, arm muscles and time. I used to hear all these scary stories about standing at the stove for hours stirring the kaya continuously like there’s no tomorrow but I’ve realised that it’s just like making custard so it should not take forever. But then again, I haven’t observed traditional ways of making kaya so I don’t know what is the correct or original method of making kaya; what I do know is, what I’ve made a few days ago tasted pretty good. The kaya was fragrant, the consistency was just what I wanted; it wasn’t watery and it wasn’t hard either so I was quite happy with it.

The first time I made kaya was in 2007 but goodness knows what method I sourced from  the internet at that time as the custard curdled a lot and I had to blend it in the end which didn’t feel quite right (felt like I was cheating). So this time, thanks to the crème brûlée tarts session last week, I just employed the same method described for making the egg custard and it worked a treat. It’s one of the methods for making kaya anyway which is the double-boiler method. I sourced the recipe from a fantastic blogger from Sydney Almost Bourdain  but I’ve substituted half of the sugar with gula melaka (dark palm sugar) just to experiment as I think gula melaka’s got that rich, deep caramel flavour. However I forgot that gula melaka is sweeter than normal cane sugar so I probably should have reduced the proportion of total sugars. I’ve also used the double-boiler method instead of the all-in-heat-and-stir as per Almost Bourdain but one thing remains the same and that is you must continuously stir the kaya over low heat (in my case, steam from simmering water); if you leave it unattended over high heat, it will want to curdle. Well if that happens, the quick fix is blend the kaya. Hehe..thankfully, I didn’t have to whip out my blender; less one item to wash.  

I used some of the kaya as filling for some kaya puffs made with the leftover pastry I had from the crème brûlée tarts. Even though, kaya puffs are made with a combination of 1 part fat pastry and 1 layer water pastry, these still turned out good and flaky, I just needed to use up the dough. Hehehe..I still have leftover kaya to accompany the ‘kee chang’ (alkaline dumpling) that I’m planning to make next week. Yeehaaaa…can’t wait…

Kaya Recipe
ingredients adapted from Almost  Bourdain)

4 eggs, beaten and sieved
250 g sugar (I used 125 g white sugar plus 100 g – 125 g gula melaka/palm sugar)
50 ml pandan / screwpine water (blend 5 pandan/screwpine leaves with 50 ml water in a blender and sieve the mixture) (I pounded my pandan leaves with a pestle and mortar with a little water to get a more concentrated extract)
250ml coconut cream (or thick coconut milk), sieved


  1. Add all ingredients into a large stainless steel bowl and mix well with a whisk.
  2. Bring a half-filled pot of water to a gentle simmer and place the stainless steel bowl on top of the pot, making sure the bowl is not directly touching the water.
  3. Continuously whisk and cook the kaya for 30-35 minutes; mixture will initially turn frothy and as the custard cooks, it starts to thicken. 
  4. Remove from heat and leave to cool. Kaya will continue to thicken as it cools.
  5. Simply serve on toast with a small spread of butter.
  6. If you want to store the jam, sterilize some glass jars in the oven as per Almost Bourdain, to about 110C and keep it heated until kaya is ready to be poured in. I recommend pouring HOT kaya into the hot jars and sealing them immediately as this creates a vaccum seal when cooled down to room temperature, then store in the fridge. Sealing probably won’t be necessary if the kaya is going to be consumed fast.  

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