I think kaya toast might be the Hainanese community’s greatest contribution to the cuisine of the Malay peninsula. They took the traditional coconut jams found around Asia and boosted its flavour with dark caramel, combining it with toast and hand-roasted coffee for the original Hainanese café experience now found all over Singapore and Malaysia.
600-750g caster sugar plus 50g extra for making caramel (I prefer to use 750g, but the recipe will work with as low as 600g)
5 pandan leaves, tied in a knot
400g coconut cream
¼ tsp salt
20g butter, plus thick slices of butter to serve
white or wholemeal bread, to serve
- If using a canned coconut cream, don’t shake the can before use. Open the top carefully and scoop out just the thick coconut cream from the top, leaving the watery liquid in the can. The volume will be less than 400ml, but you don’t need to top it up as the liquid will just need to be cooked off in the cooking process anyway. Using just the thick portion of the coconut cream will reduce the cooking time.
- I like to use a cheese slicer to get even slices of butter.