Tuesday, February 12, 2013


(I have a cold...so I'm currently writing my post like this):

Happy Pancake Day! For some reason, instead of Mardi Gras or Carnivale, in Ireland, they have Pancake Tuesday. Apparently this is a thing in many cultures, but I had no idea. If I had the means to make a King Cake (So gaudy! So beautiful!) I totally would be all over that, but unfortunately, not go. Unless I make a really tiny one...anyway, pancakes. 

When they say pancakes in Ireland, they usually mean crepes or something similar. I do not consider that a pancake, but crepes definitely have their place! Also, I am not very good at making them. It's on my list. Pancakes are a very easy thing to make anywhere, since the ingredients are readily available and an oven is not required!

You might be wondering what all these weird pictures are and what the heck kaya is and how it is at all relevant. Well I'll tell you! I just like to ramble, that's all.  Last week while wandering the Asian Market, I came across an ingredient I've been searching for for a very long time: pandan leaves. You better believe I snatched up those leaves as fast as I could. Mm, okay, I'm trying to figure out how to describe pandan. In many parts of southeast Asia, the leaves are used to add a wonderful aroma to both sweet and savory dishes. It's hard to describe the smell...simultaneously floral, piney, nutty...almost vanilla but not quite? 

I wasn't feeling quite ambitious enough to tackle pandan crepes, but I realized that kaya would make an excellent topping for pancakes! Kaya is a coconut jam made with eggs, coconut, sugar, and pandan leaves. It has the consistency of lemon curd and is excellent spread on pretty much anything. Normally, kaya takes hours of constant stirring, but I found a recipe for quick kaya, and it turned out great. Pancakes slathered with butter and kaya made for a super rich, almost dessert like breakfast this morning. Try it out! If you can't find fresh pandan leaves, you can substitute something like this (but seriously, go on an ingredient adventure. Never know what you'll find!)

Quick Kaya 

6 tbsp sugar (90 g) If you want, you can use half palm sugar, half white sugar
200 ml undiluted fresh coconut milk
4 pandan leaves, cut in halves or third and knotted
4 egg yolks (make sure there's no egg white at all)
Cook 3 tbsp sugar in a pot over medium-high heat till light brown, swirling slowly. Reduce heat to low. Keep swirling till sugar is medium-brown. Add coconut milk (beware of steam), remaining 3 tbsp sugar and pandan leaves. Increase heat to high. Stir till sugar is melted and coconut milk is just starting to simmer gently. Turn off heat. Instead of caramelizing 3 tbsp white sugar, you could just put 45 g roughly chopped palm sugar in the pot, then add the coconut milk and 3 tbsp white sugar, and bring everything to a gentle simmer.
Slowly stir half of coconut milk into egg yolks. Next, pour all of egg mixture into remaining coconut milk in one go. Over medium-low heat, cook combined mixture till slightly thickened. Reduce heat to low. Continue stirring till mixture is thick enough to coat spoon thickly. Taste (ideally with a piece of bread) and add more sugar if necessary. Discard pandan leaves. Transfer to a bowl or bottle. Leave till completely cool. Cover and refrigerate. May be stored up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving if you want a softer, squidgy consistency.


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