Vanilla-coconut jellies

Yesterday, Kamal and I made this kyauk kyaw recipe from Girl Cooks World. I'd been promising to share with him the joys of agar-agar for some time, and yesterday, a lazy around-the-house kind of day, was just right. 

Agar-agar, also called Kanten, is a thickening and gelling agent obtained from algae. It's used in a similar way to gelatin, and it produces a texture I think most people would be hard-pressed to tell apart from Jell-O. 

You can buy agar-agar in strand form, too, but the powder is easier to measure. Finding it at an Asian market instead of a Western grocery is a smart move, budget-wise. 

Here are all the ingredients you need: Two and a quarter tablespoons of agar-agar powder, two and a half cups of water, a cup of coconut milk, a little more than a quarter cup of sugar,  a pinch of salt, and your favorite flavoring extract. We used vanilla extract, which Adam makes from fragrant vanilla beans and booze, instead of the rosewater extract recommended in the original recipe. 

Bring all the ingredients except the extract to a boil, simmer the mixture for a bit, then add in your flavorings and pour it all into a pan to let cool and set. 

Since Kamal's favorite color is pink, and also since I try really hard not to give Kamal artificial food colorings, I picked a couple of beet stalks, washed them, and then sort of wrung them out over the pan as the coconut mixture cooled in it. Result: beautiful fuschia swirls! 

Be prepared for super-pink fingertips, though. 

We waited impatiently for the mixture to set (it took about 40 minutes) and then Kamal got to work with his ever-growing collection of cookie cutters.


My co-chef tastes and approves. I think you will, too!