Monday, January 21, 2008

agar agar

I used gelatin to make panna cotta a few weeks ago but found that at almost $3 a box, it’s too expensive to experiment with. I came across a box of agar powder at an Asian market last weekend at far less the price and found that it could be substituted for gelatin.

Coconut Coffee Flan

Coconut cream layer:
1 ½ cup coconut milk
½ cup milk
2 tsp agar
¼ cup granulated sugar

Heat above ingredient in saucepan, melting the sugar and agar. Bring to complete boil. Pour into mold and let cool. Mixture should set at room temperature. Refrigerate if desired.

Coffee layer
2 cup prepared coffee (flavored or unflavored)
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp agar

Heat above ingredients in saucepan, melting sugar and agar. Bring to complete boil. Cool slightly and pour over set coconut layer. Be careful that the coffee mixture does not gel in the pot as it is cooling. However, if that does occur, simply re-boil it to dissolve.

While I enjoy the creaminess and distinct flavor of coconut milk, I found that using all coconut milk in the recipe is too cloying. You can adjust the amount of sugar in both layers to suit your taste.

Agar is derived from seaweed, and is the vegan substitute for gelatin, which is made from calf hooves. Most often used in the science laboratory to make agarose gel plates for the growth of bacterial colonies, agar also makes an excellent (and cheap) thickener and stabilizer in cooking. It is essentially tasteless and can be used interchangeably with gelatin to make mousses, panna cotta, etc. The usual ratio of liquid to agar is 1 cup: 1 teaspoon. This can be adjusted to you preference for the set mixture. Less agar will result in a softer consistency while more agar will give a harder "toothier" jelly. Agar will not be as effective with certain ingredients, such as citrus or chocolate.


linda said...

What a coincidence, I just made a two layer coconut and coffee pudding terrine last week. No gelatin or agar agar, just plain corn flour...

Mother Bliss said...

Have you considered buying gelatin in bulk? Might be cheaper, and I believe their shelf life is indefinite. My mom used to work at a restaurant, and she gave me a tub, that has lasted for YEARS, and many more years to come, might I add. Might be a good investment to look into. I make my own homemade gummies, but if I were paying $3 a box, I wouldn't even bother! Try Costco or SmartFinal, or some restaurant supply store. Good luck.