There are some things I haven’t made for the longest time because it seemed like too much work. But friend S from Australia who is one of the most enthusiastic travelers I have met, recently trawled through all the supermarkets in Singapore and found low sugar kaya and asked a couple of us if this was safe for diabetics. Kaya or coconut jam is a spread that is truly beloved locally and is a staple for breakfast. There is nothing quite like kaya…it’s something about the creaminess of the coconut milk and egg mixture and the fragrance of the pandan in the jam. Many breakfast places feature kaya toast as a staple offering. Kaya is also available bottled in the supermarkets. Unfortunately the “low sugar” version she showed us was frighteningly full of starches and fillers and was about 8-9g per tablespoon. In fact there is a local brand of kaya that is labeled “no added sugar” but has the same carb count as regular kaya…which only proves that you have to scrutinize the nutrition labels critically.
Since she put the bug in my brain, however, I decided to try making my own kaya. To be honest I always felt intimidated as I’ve never had great experiences making kaya and it is really annoying to end up with a mess of curdled eggs instead of a smooth jam. However, I decided that this was a worthy cause and I figured that the family might appreciate some low carb kaya. At the end I realized that making kaya is similar to making the custard that is the base for home-made ice-cream. It has to be done excruciatingly slowly and patiently over a bain marie. But the result is a smooth, thick and creamy jam and well worth it. Ultimately, it wasn’t a difficult enterprise but the stirring did add 5000 “steps” to my Fitbit!
In the end, the kaya I made was only 0.6 carbs per tbsp compared to 9g per tbsp for the commercial version. Being a fresh product, it has to be kept in the fridge and consumed within a week or so, but the kaya didn’t even last a day once kid#1 came home…
My custard making outfit of a metal mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water and a digital thermometer.
Low Carb Kaya Jam
- 5 large eggs
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup coconut cream
- 3/4 cup sugar substitute (I used Monkfruit sweetener)
- 7-8 pandan leaves
- 10 ml hot water
- Chop the pandan leaves in a food processor as finely as possible. Add the 10 ml of hot water in and keep blending. Squeeze out the chopped pandan leaves through a muslin cloth to make your own fresh pandan juice.
- Beat the eggs and sugar substitute in a bowl and set aside.
- Put the coconut milk and cream and pandan juice into a bowl and place over a simmering hot pot of water. Put in a thermometer to monitor the temperature and heat up, stirring occasionally until about 60-70 deg C.
- Carefully pour in the egg and sugar into the coconut milk and cream mix, stirring very well. Bring the heat down to Low and keep stirring, not allowing the mixture to exceed 75 deg C. This may need you to turn off the fire on and off if your stove is too hot.
- Keep stirring well for about an hour as the kaya thickens up into a jam consistency.
- Take off heat and cool, and put into clean jam jars. Serve with low carb bread.