Dessert/ Recipes

Agar Agar Jelly with Coconut – Laotian Vun

08/09/2017 (Last Updated: 09/07/2019)

Looking for a delicious and easy dessert recipe? Try this sweet little Agar Agar Jelly known in Laos as Vun. These sweet little South East Asian desserts are filled with coconut and pandan essence, just perfect for a work or kids snack.

A stack of green agar agar jelly cubes on a plate.

Why We Love This Recipe

This Agar Agar Jelly recipe was inspired by our trip through Laos. True, we ate just about every colourful dessert imaginable on our journeys through lots of South East Asian countries, (including this tasty Lao PUMPKIN Coconut Custard). But these agar agar jelly cubes were just about the cutest ever! Not only do they have a delicately sweet, ever-so-slightly salty coconut flavour going on, they’ve also got a cool visual effect too. Made with plant-based agar powder instead of gelatin, the jelly separates into two distinctly gorgeous layers when cooling. 

Agar agar jelly on a plate with a spoon slicing down the middle.

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How To Make Agar Agar Jelly with Coconut – Laotian Vun

  • Start by pouring half your coconut milk into a small mixing bowl. Crack in the egg and give it a really good whisk to incorporate.
  • Meanwhile heat the water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the agar agar powder and give it a swirl to mix through. Slowly pour in your coconut milk and egg mixture and stir. Gently bring to the boil and keep stirring. Then slowly add your remaining coconut milk.
  • Next, pour in the sugar, salt and pandan essence (optional). Taste the mixture, but be careful not to burn your tongue! If it’s not sweet enough, you can add more sugar, or an extra sprinkle of salt or pandan essence til you’re happy with the flavour.
  • Cook and stir for a few more minutes, then remove from the heat.
  • Pour the mixture out into large glass dishes (or jelly moulds, if using). Skim any bubbles off the surface so your jelly will set nice and smooth. Allow the jelly cool on your kitchen bench for an hour or so (and be sure to check out those layers!).
  • Once set, cut the jelly into shapes and serve.

FAQs

So why agar? And what the heck is it anyway? 

  • Agar (sometimes known as agar agar) is extracted from a South East Asian seaweed. It’s the perfect substitute for gelatin, especially for those with vegetarian or vegan diets.
  • Agar agar jelly sets more firmly than jelly made with gelatin, and will even set at room temperature – although it should still be stored in the fridge.
  • Agar is naturally packed with fibre, yet surprisingly has zero carbs, calories, sugar or fat (talk about guilt free!)

Also we just want to quickly point out – our Coconut Agar Agar Jelly turned bright green because, unbeknownst to us, our agar agar powder was blended with green food colouring! Otherwise, it’s normally clear/uncoloured. 

My agar jelly didn’t set. Why?

There could be a couple of reasons why your jelly doesn’t set:

  • Your agar flakes or power hadn’t completely dissolved. Make sure it’s melted down completely before adding in the coconut and egg mixture.
  • You used citrus-based flavourings. These can interfere with the jelly from setting, so it’s best to avoid flavourings or juices such as lemon, lime or pineapple. 

A stack of jelly cubes on a plate with three spoons - perfect for sharing!

Agar Agar Jelly Tips

  • If using agar agar flakes instead of powder, use the conversion ratio of 1 tsp powder to 1 Tbsp flakes.
  • You can store your jelly in the fridge for up to a week.

Variations & Substitutes

Feel like giving your Coconut Agar Agar Jelly a personal touch? Here are a few ideas to get you experimenting! 

  • Up the intensity by adding more sugar or salt for extra deliciousness
  • Tweak the flavour with a few drops of flavour essence such as rose water, coffee and/or milk, or food dyes for quirky colours. Also if you don’t have pandan essence on hand, you can substitute with regular vanilla essence. 
  • Get creative – use cookie cutters or silicone jelly moulds for quirky shapes like stars and flowers
  • If you prefer, you can use gelatin instead of agar – just use the same amount. Remember, you’ll need to set the jelly in the refrigerator as it won’t set at room temperature with gelatin. 
  • Enjoy this jelly on its own, or serve with fresh fruit, canned fruit or fruit pulp for extra deliciousness.

So have you ever made agar jelly before, or do you prefer using gelatin? What’s your favourite way to make jelly?

 
A close up of agar agar jelly cubes, a sweet little asian dessert.
 

Coconut Agar Agar Jelly Recipe (Laotian Vun) - These sweet little South East Asian desserts are filled with coconut and pandan flavour, just perfect for a work or kids snack.

Agar Agar Jelly with Coconut - Laotian Vun

Looking for a delicious and easy dessert recipe? Try this sweet little Agar Agar Jelly known in Laos as Vun. These sweet little South East Asian desserts are filled with coconut and pandan flavour, just perfect for a work or kids snack.
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Lao
Servings: 20 pieces
Calories: 101kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5

Equipment

  • 20 x 20cm baking dish (or similar)

Ingredients

  • 400 ml coconut cream in 200x200g portions
  • 4.5 cups water
  • 14 g agar agar powder
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pandan essence optional

Instructions

  • Start by pouring half your coconut milk into a small mixing bowl. Crack in the egg and give it a really good whisk to incorporate.
  • Meanwhile heat the water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the agar agar powder and give it a swirl to mix through. Slowly pour in your coconut milk and egg mixture and stir. Gently bring to the boil and keep stirring. Then slowly add your remaining coconut milk.
  • Next, pour in the sugar, salt and pandan essence (optional). Taste the mixture, but be careful not to burn your tongue! If it's not sweet enough, you can add more sugar, or an extra sprinkle of salt or pandan essence til you're happy with the flavour.
  • Cook and stir for a few more minutes, then remove from the heat.
  • Pour the mixture out into large glass dishes (or jelly moulds, if using). Skim any bubbles off the surface so your jelly will set nice and smooth. Allow the jelly cool on your kitchen bench for an hour or so (and be sure to check out those layers!).
  • Once set, cut the jelly into shapes and serve.

Notes

FAQs

  • So why agar? And what the heck is it anyway? Agar (sometimes known as agar agar) is extracted from a South East Asian seaweed. It’s the perfect substitute for gelatin, especially for those with vegetarian or vegan diets. Agar agar jelly sets more firmly than jelly made with gelatin, and will even set at room temperature – although it should still be stored in the fridge. Agar is naturally packed with fibre, yet surprisingly has zero carbs, calories, sugar or fat (talk about guilt free!)
  • My agar jelly didn’t set. Why? There could be a couple of reasons why your jelly doesn’t set. Perhaps your agar flakes or power hadn’t completely dissolved. Make sure it’s melted down completely before adding in the coconut and egg mixture. OR maybe you used citrus-based flavourings. These can interfere with the jelly from setting, so it’s best to avoid flavourings or juices such as lemon, lime or pineapple.

 

Agar Agar Jelly Tips

  • If using agar agar flakes instead of powder, use the conversion ratio of 1 tsp powder to 1 Tbsp flakes.
  • You can store your jelly in the fridge for up to a week.

 

Variations & Substitutes

Feel like giving your Coconut Agar Agar Jelly a personal touch? Here are a few ideas to get you experimenting!
  • Up the intensity by adding more sugar or salt for extra deliciousness
  • Tweak the flavour with a few drops of flavour essence such as rose water, coffee and/or milk, or food dyes for quirky colours. Also if you don't have pandan essence on hand, you can substitute with regular vanilla essence. 
  • Get creative - use cookie cutters or silicone jelly moulds for quirky shapes like stars and flowers
  • If you prefer, you can use gelatin instead of agar - just use the same amount. Remember, you'll need to set the jelly in the refrigerator as it won't set at room temperature with gelatin.
  • Enjoy this jelly on its own, or serve with fresh fruit, canned fruit or fruit pulp for extra deliciousness.

Nutrition

Calories: 101kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 66mg | Potassium: 76mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 0.2% | Vitamin C: 0.7% | Calcium: 0.9% | Iron: 3.6%
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks

 

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Sharon Chen
    09/07/2019 at 3:12 pm

    I haven’t tried cooking an agar agar recipe before. Would definitely try this one 🙂

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      09/07/2019 at 3:43 pm

      Have fun Sharon, let us know how you go!

  • Reply
    Beth
    09/07/2019 at 1:50 pm

    These are so fun and could be used for some festive holidays like St. Patricks or even Christmas! Great post!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      09/07/2019 at 3:43 pm

      Absolutely! So versatile, especially because they can stand up to being out of the fridge a little longer than regular jelly.

  • Reply
    Veena Azmanov
    09/07/2019 at 1:32 pm

    Lovely dessert option for a party. Love the color and the flavor of coconut to making this amazing dessert.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      09/07/2019 at 3:42 pm

      Thanks Veena, they’d be a great conversation starter for sure.

  • Reply
    SHANIKA
    09/07/2019 at 12:07 pm

    I’m loving these little Jelly Squares! So perfect for Summer!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      09/07/2019 at 3:42 pm

      Totally! They’d be a great dessert after a summer bbq party! 🙂

  • Reply
    Michelle
    09/07/2019 at 11:01 am

    I had heard of agar agar before but never knew where it came from. Hoping I can try using it soon as this just seems sooooo cool!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      09/07/2019 at 11:33 am

      Haha it is! It’s amazing the texture difference between agar agar and gelatin too. It’s so fun to experiment with.

  • Reply
    Madeline Wishart
    14/09/2017 at 3:23 am

    How many servings does this recipe make?

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      28/09/2017 at 9:04 am

      Hey Madeline! It kind of depends how you slice them, but we easily filled two glass dishes with the mixture and ended up with around 20 small slices.

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