Rau Cau Recipe: Vietnamese Jelly Cakes With Godiva Coffee

So I wanted to try something else other than a beverage using Godiva’s latest coffee flavors. I thought about preparing some kind of coffee-flavored baked good or perhaps a sweet and indulgent coffee dessert. But then I recalled a Vietnamese dessert that my mom used to occasionally make. Rau cau is known as Vietnamese jelly cake and is made with agar agar, coconut milk, and layered with different flavors (and colors) like pandan, vanilla, chocolate, green tea. The most common type is the combination of coffee, coconut, and pandan. It’s quite easy to make and doesn’t require many ingredients.

I decided to make the rau cau with only the coffee and coconut layers. The jelly is barely sweetened so that you can actually taste the flavored coffee. The coconut will then happily balance out any of the bitterness you make encounter with the coffee. Sounds like a good plan.

Rau cau is sometimes prepared in really cool molds displaying a variety of colors and look so much like a piece of art, that you might hesitate to cut into it. Other times, they are more conventional with just simply the different layers of flavors/colors. But even if you don’t have any fancy molds, you can use cookie cutters to create pieces with fun shapes and sizes. I gathered a rectangular dish, some glass containers, some mini cupcake liners, and my vegetable cutters.

The jelly cakes are similar to gelatin desserts, but use agar agar instead. Agar agar is derived from seaweed, and it suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Rau cau resembles jello, but tend to be less sugary sweet and have a firmer consistency. The flavors come from the interaction of the ingredients themselves rather than relying on added sugars. The agar agar powder of choice is Telephone brand, which can be found in small packets at local Asian groceries. For the coconut milk, I carefully picked one that didn’t have any added preservatives. For each layer, you’d want to prepare them in a separate small pot. So I found three pots – one for the coconut, and one each for the Pumpkin Spice coffee and the Caramel Pecan Bark coffee.

Coffee and coconut jelly

Ingredients for coffee layer:

  • 1 tbsp agar agar powder
  • 4 tbsp hot water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups strong coffee
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Ingredients for the coconut layer:

  • 1 tbsp of agar agar powder
  • 4 tbsp hot water
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt

Directions for the coffee layer:

  1. Prepare the coffee: Brew 2 cups (16 oz) of strong black coffee.
  2. Add the sugar to the coffee and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Combine the 1 tbsp agar agar with 4 tbsp water, stirring until the powder is completely dissolved.
  4. Add coffee, sugar, and vanilla extract. Adjust to taste, if needed.
  5. Bring to boil.
  6. Ready to add into mold.

Directions for the coconut layer:

  1. Heat the coconut milk and water in another small pot.
  2. Add 1 tbsp agar agar with 4 tbsp water, stirring until the powder is completely dissolved.
  3. Add 2 tbsp sugar. Adjust to taste, if needed.
  4. Bring to boil.
  5. Ready to add into mold.

Once you make the flavored agar mixtures, you can pretty much pour them into any mold or container you like. Feel free to layer them as many times as you like. The important thing is that you want the bottom layer to not be fully set when you pour the next layer on top. You want it to still be a bit sticky, but not soft, that way the layers will stick. Also, it’s best to carefully spoon the liquid on top of jelly to prevent the bottom layer from cracking. If you find your agar mixture solidifying as you’re preparing the layers, no problem. Just reheat it over the stove and it’ll go back to its liquid form. That’s the convenience of having each mixture in a separate pot.

Once you’re done assembling your jelly cakes, refrigerate them for at least 2 hours before serving. The recipe is very versatile and you can incorporate other ingredients and create other flavor combinations and colors as well.

The combination of coffee and coconut works really well. Some pieces are caramel pecan bark flavored, while others accent the taste of pumpkin spice. I left some coffee grounds in the coffee layer to give it some extra texture.

The jelly cakes are wonderful on its own or incorporated into another dessert. You can also decorate them. Below, I removed the jelly cakes from the cupcake liners and topped it with some coconut cream and frozen berries.

Even without fancy molds, you can form interesting shapes using any containers you might have laying around your kitchen. Or, you can make a large rectangle and cut them into any shape or sizes you like, or simply serve it in slices. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: The product was provided to me as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers Program. No other compensation was received for this post. The post was written by LookyTasty and all opinions expressed are solely mine.

Comments

  1. Those are so pretty and I bet super tasty! I love the ones that you cut into shapes!

  2. Lovely dessert and we too have similar ones over here, you know pandan grows abundantly in my garden The color of the dessert is so tempting.

  3. This looks absolutely awesome! What a cool use for the Godiva coffee. I bet it taste awesome.

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