In keeping with both our desire to stay relatively fit and healthy during the holiday indulgences, we present to you this creation of ours we delightfully call coco-bliss, a dessert with equal parts refreshment and decadence. Vietnamese desserts often have 3 key ingredients or layers, for example che ba mau (three color dessert) or thach rau cau (3 flavor agar of coffee, pandan, and coconut). Here we take this concept and use fresh coconut water from the young coconut to make a coconut water gelatin. From the milk, we make both a gelatin and a coconut cream. Finally toasted coconut flakes are candied in a brittle and sprinkled on top.
Coconut Water Layer
1 c coconut water (fresh young coconut prefered)
1 ts agar agar
Coconut Milk Layer
1 c coconut milk
1.5 ts agar agar
1.5 ts sugar
Pinch of koshar salt
Coconut Cream Layer
1/2 c Half and Half (or whole milk if you prefer less creamy)
1/2 c coconut milk
1/4 c sugar
1/8 c cornstarch
1/8 ts kosher salt
1/2 ts vanilla extract
1 c toasted shredded coconut
Coconut Almond Brittle
1 c sugar (dark or white)
1/2 c light corn syrup
1/4 ts salt
1/4 c water
1 tbs butter, softened
1 ts baking soda
1 c toasted shredded coconut
1/2 c toasted sliced almonds
supplies: 6 small clear cups, parchment paper, candy thermometer
The coconut brittle can be made days in advance. In sauce pan with medium heat add the sugar, light corn syrup, salt, and water. Using candy thermometer, gage the temperature of mixture until it reaches the hard crack stage (302 F/ 150 C), stir in butter and baking soda. Mixture will foam up---add toasted shredded coconut and toasted sliced almonds and mix. Pour mixture over parchment paper and spread thinly as possible with silicon spatula. Allow to cool and break into bits and pieces.
To make the coconut water layer, heat the coconut water and agar agar under low heat until agar dissolves and liquid comes to simmer. Remove from heat and carefully fill about 1/3rd of each serving cup and store in fridge to cool and firm up.
Add all the ingredients of the coconut milk layer to the saucepan and under medium low, heat the coconut milk layer and stir, making sure there are no clumps. Heat until simmer and remove from heat and add to the firmed coconut water layer, filling another layer with the coconut milk mixture and store in fridge to cool and firm up.
Add the half and half, coconut milk, egg, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and cornstarch in sauce pan and whisk together well. Under low heat and constant whisking, heat the mixture until it thickens to a creamy consistency. Stir in the toasted shredded coconut and remove from heat.
By now the coconut water, coconut milk, have firmed. Spoon the coconut cream mixture on top. Sprinkle with small bits of coconut brittle, and a larger piece as a decorative garnish.
Cooks note: Best serve chilled. The dessert can be made a day or two ahead of time and coconut brittle added as the last finishing step. As the coconut milk and cream layers are richer, we prefer adding a slightly lesser amount compared with the coconut water.
We can’t decide what we like more, the refreshingly pure coconut water jelly or the sweet and coconut milk and cream. Oh well, we’ll just have it all!
Since agar-agar is such a big part of Vietnamese desserts, this is also our contribution to Delicious Vietnam, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine created by Anh of A Food Lovers Journey and yours truly! This month’s host is Deb of Bear Head Soup blog. Submissions can be sent to her by Sunday Dec 7, 2010 at 7:00 pm pacific time via bearheadsoup[at]gmail[dot]com For instructions on how you can participate, visit Delicious Vietnam information page.