It is common for Thais to have one or two choices of sweets after meals. Most of traditional Thai sweets are made from rice flour, palm sugar, coconut and some other domestic ingredients. However, some Thai sweets are influenced by western desserts like Trouxa de ovos and Fios de ovos.

Variety of Thai Sweets

Variety of Thai Sweets

My grandmother made and sold the sweets.  She told me that most of traditional Thai sweets would always compose of rice flour, palm sugar and coconut.  It is an old technique to entice children to eat something when they refuse to eat food, especially rice.  That’s why the main ingredient of Thai sweets is rice flour.  The sweetness comes from palm sugar and the coconut meat or coconut milk provides the creamy taste. Some Thai sweets also have local fruits and grains as the main ingredients; for example, Kluay Buad Chee (Banana in Coconut Milk),  Khao Poad Kaeng Buad (Sweet Corn in Coconut Milk), Khanom Toam (Boiled Flour Dumpling Stuffed with sweeten coconut).

Kluay Buad Chee - Banana in Sweeten Coconut Milk, one of typical Thai sweets

Kluay Buad Chee – Banana in Sweeten Coconut Milk, one of typical Thai sweets

However, dating back to the 17th century in Ayutthaya period, a number of sweets were created by Maria Guyomar de Pinha, an Ayutthaya-born lady with mixed Japanese-Portuguese-Bengali ancestry. Known by Thais as Thao Thong Kiip Maa, she was also the head of the royal kitchen of the Ayuthaya Court. She introduced many new Thai sweets to the Siamese Court. Her recipes have egg yolks as the base instead of rice flour as in original Thai sweets. Her dramatic life could be written as a novel but most people remembered her as one of the great Thai sweet makers.  

Khanom Bua Loy - at typical Thai sweet from the old days still be a favorite sweet at present

Khanom Bua Loy – at typical Thai sweet from the old days still be a favorite sweet at present

It was believed that Maria created the new recipes by developing new techniques and using ingredients that are available locally. Coconut milk is used in the recipes as a substitute of milk to provide the creamy body of the sweets. The Thai sweet named “Foi Thong” was believed to be inspired by Fios de ovos or the Angel’s Hair. Another sweet ‘Khanom Mor Kaeng’ or ‘Khanom Kum Pah Mas’ was adapted from Portuguese’s Tigelada. The popular sweet ‘Thong Yip’ is also adapted from Portuguese sweet ‘Trouxa de ovos’.

These sweets were initially served to the king only but were later allowed to be taught outside the royal court. Since then other kinds of sweets had been developed from these royal sweets to become what we see today.

Khanom Mor Kaeng - a modified recipes from Portuguese's Tigelada

Khanom Mor Kaeng – a modified recipes from Portuguese’s Tigelada

Some of her sweets such as Thong Yip, Thong Yod, Thong Eke and Foi Thong become a staple of auspicious ceremonies or celebrations (partly because ‘Thong’ means gold in Thai).

Egg-Yok based modified Thai sweet recipes from several hundred years ago still existed at present!

Egg-Yok based modified Thai sweet recipes from several hundred years ago still existed at present!

Nowadays, the recipes of these Thai sweets remain the same as it was three hundred years ago even though the presentation may be different. Thanks to Maria, some Thai sweet makers become millionaires from selling sweets from her recipes.