Happy Fourth of July! No huge cookout for us (especially since Cyber decided to keep us up all night last night…thank goodness it’s a holiday today!) but I’ve managed to muster up some energy :D to make one of my favorite summer desserts – coconut agar-agar. Agar-agar is a vegetarian substitute for gelatin, and was more commonly used than gelatin during my childhood days back in Malaysia. We use agar-agar to make what would be similar to “jello” gelatin desserts. The prepared mixture is cooled and then cut into smaller pieces right before serving or the mixture can be poured into molds for a fancier presentation. The texture is firmer than your typical jello but it is as delicious, if not more (in my humble opinion, of course). :D I love plain agar-agar, but I love it even more with the addition of coconut milk. Just that easily, the agar-agar is transformed into a luxurious dessert, worthy of any special celebration. If we have a Fourth of July party, this would make a great “white” part of a red, white, and blue theme. But you don’t have to wait for a special occasion, this deliciously cool and refreshing dessert is an awesome treat for anytime. Enjoy!
Update: I found that the agar-agar breaks down faster than I would like, so I’ve increased the amount of agar-agar from 1¾ teaspoons to 2¼ teaspoons.
⅓ cup sugar
2¼ teaspoons agar-agar powder
1 pandan leaf, knotted (optional)
2 cups water
1 cup unsweetened (canned) coconut milk
Place sugar, agar-agar powder, pandan leaf (if used), and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat (agar-agar powder should completely dissolve by this point). Stir in coconut milk and a pinch of salt (stir just enough to incorporate the coconut milk, not vigorously). Bring the mixture to a boil again, then remove from heat. Discard pandan leaf and transfer mixture to a (8″ x 8″ or 7″ x 11″) baking dish or pan. Leave undisturbed until set (the mixture will separate into two distinct layers) and refrigerate until cold. Cut and serve.