Agar-agar desserts are a staple at Malaysian gatherings and parties, so making this dish put me in a festive mood. I think sneaking palm sugar bits also helped with the happy feeling ;)
Given the minimal number of ingredients, it’s essential to use the proper sugar in this recipe. Gula melaka (dark palm sugar) is the colour of black coffee and sold in logs. You can find it in Asian food markets. Do check though when purchasing palm sugar, as there is another kind that is light golden and sold in the form of little cakes, this is the kind used in Thai cooking. I suppose in a pinch you could probably substitute one for the other but dark palm sugar has a stronger, earthier flavour, almost a little salty.
Gula melaka syrup
I made this up as I went along and the recipe only makes a very small amount (2 x 10cm square pans) of agar-agar. I had to reduce the quantity because there seems to be a truckload of sugar and other good stuff floating around at the Skewer House at the moment, so I didn’t want too much temptation in the way. Feel free to experiment with the quantities.
Pardon the cream at the very top of the agar-agar, it really shouldn't be there but I used coconut cream instead of coconut milk. Oops.
Bear in mind that the setting property of agar-agar will vary between brands, so do check the instructions on your packet.
Agar-agar gula melaka
approx 1 cup dark palm sugar (gula melaka) chopped into bits
Boiling water - approx 600ml (split in two lots of 300ml)
5 - 6 g agar-agar powder
about 6 tablespoons coconut milk (or add more to taste) - I used coconut cream because that’s all I found in the pantry, but I don’t recommend doing this because it is too rich and leaves an unsightly layer on the top of the finished agar-agar.
Place the gula melaka into a heatproof jug and add 300ml of hot water. Stir to dissolve. If needed, heat in the microwave in short bursts and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. You can also place the sugar and water in a pan and heat over gentle heat.
Strain the sugar mixture into a clean bowl. This step is necessary because gula melaka usually contains impurities.
Bring the other 300ml of water to the boil and stir in the agar-agar powder. Simmer and stir until the agar-agar dissolves, then add the sugar mixture and stir well. When all the agar-agar mixture has dissolved, stir in the coconut milk and let it come back to a gentle boil, turn off the heat and remove the pan from heat. Don’t allow the coconut milk to boil vigorously.
Pour into moulds and leave to cool slightly before putting into the fridge to set. The coconut milk should rise to the surface and two distinct layers should be seen. Best served chilled.
This is most probably my last Malaysian Monday post for the year, thank you so much for following my journey thus far! Remember, if you’d like to join in our Muhibbah Malaysian Monday event, do send your entries to Suresh (email@example.com) at 3 Hungry Tummies
I’m off to bake macarons now so I can catch the Mactweet express, and don’t forget to come back and check out the Daring Bakers reveal towards the end of the week. We get to post slightly earlier thanks to the holidays.
See you soon and have a great start to the week!