Rau Cau Flan – Rainbow Flan Dessert

flan agar dessert


“It’s not too sweet,” they say. For us, those four words are music to our ears when it comes to Asian desserts.  We’re making gross generalizations here, but compared to the Western palate that loves the decadent and rich desserts (triple chocolate fudge cake, anyone?),  the Asian palate generally prefers a much lighter and subdued sweet taste. So when we hear guests say “it’s not too sweet” it actually means they really like it!

This is why agar-agar desserts are so popular in Asia, because it’s refreshing and typically not too sweet, like our three layer coconut pandan and coffee agar. But of course we love to put a spin on classic desserts, so in this dish we add a smooth and rich layer of flan on top of our three layer dessert.  We credit our cousin who made this dessert over the holidays for giving us this idea.  The contrast in textures and flavors is great..and despite the richness of the flan, having it with three layers of agar makes it not too sweet! Perfect!

Although it looks complicated, it’s quite simple but does requires several steps since you have to make each individual agar layar separately.  In this dessert, we just combining two separate recipes. If you have a favorite flan recipe, use that and incorporate our agar recipe.

flan agar dessert
We also served our dessert with some candied tangerines that our friend Kim from Rustic Garden Bistro sent us from her garden. To candy them, simply peel tangerines and cook to in equal parts water and sugar until skin becomes translucent.
Although there are several steps involved, this dessert makes for a great presentation and is well worth it! Add this twist the next time you make flan for a new taste and texture that it’s not too sweet but oh so good!


flan agar

Rau Cau Flan - Rainbow Flan


Basic Flan
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 eggs or 5 egg yolks
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 ts vanilla extract

Agar Layers
1 cup water
2 tbs sugar
1/2 ts pandan extract
1/2 ts green food coloring
1 ts agar

1 cup coconut milk
2 tbs sugar
1 pinch salt
1 ts agar

1 cup water
2 small packets instant coffee
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs cream/milk
1 ts agar


Pre heat oven to 350 degrees and heat a pot of water.

In sauce pan caramelize the sugar and water until golden brown and pour into a round 9 inch pan or several ramekins and coat evenly. Allow to cool and crystalize.

In large bowl, beat the eggs, condensed and evaporated milk, and vanilla until smooth. Be careful not introduce too much air into the mixture. Strain with new panty hose (wrapped around strainer) or cheese cloth. Allow mixture to sit for at least 15 minutes. Gently poor into pan and cover with foil and place in roasting pan. Carefully add to boil water into the roasting pan to cover at least 3/4 of pan and bake in oven for until set (about 60 minutes) or until a toothpick comes out clean.

After the flan has cooled (you can make the flan up to 1 day before) make your first agar layer. In medium sauce pan heat all the ingrediants for the pandan layer until agar dissolves and comes to gentle boil. Remove from heat and carefully ladle onto the flan. Allow to cool in fridge and begin to prep for next layer.

Repeat procedure for the coconut and pour over the pandan layer. To test when you can pour in the next layer, touch it with your fingers, it should be firm but still slightly sticky but not set completely. Repeat for coffee layer.

After all three agar layers have set and cooled completely. Use a butter knife to cut around the edges and invert onto serving plate. Served chilled.

This is our entry 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 Pepy of Indonesia Eats blog. Submissions can be sent to her at indonesianinwinnipeg[at]gmail[dot]com by January 9, 2011 at 7:00 pm pacific time. For instructions on how you can participate, visit Delicious Vietnam information page.


delicious vietnam 

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35 Responses to “Rau Cau Flan – Rainbow Flan Dessert”

  1. 1

    Pinoy Panda — January 8, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

    This layered dessert is delicious. I loved the combination of familiar Asian flavors with the coffee layer providing an unexpected pleasantness. Thank you for sharing.

  2. 2

    Norma — January 8, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

    I am a long time flan maker and I have always wanted to do a layered look…this is absolutely a beuatiful desert and presentation.

  3. 3

    foodwanderings — January 8, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

    I grew up eating classic flan my (Indian) mom made. Completely relate to not too sweet as a compliment! This rainbow one looks incredible and love that all food coloring is natural!

  4. 4

    Joy — January 8, 2011 @ 11:07 pm

    This looks so lovely. I want to try it! Agar agar is such a great ingredient!

  5. 5

    Table Talk — January 9, 2011 @ 12:35 am

    Gorgeous, and light; just the way I prefer dessert (most of the time). Would make an elegant finish!

  6. 6

    Jean — January 9, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

    I don't think I can even count how many times I've written those same words when describing desserts on my blog: "It's not too sweet". So of course, you had me hooked on your first sentence. This flan is simply beautiful.

    Schedule didn't permit me to participate in your Delicious Vietnam series last year but I'm hoping to change that soon.

  7. 7

    high low — January 9, 2011 @ 11:09 pm

    Beautiful dessert! The agar layer reminds me of a dessert that my grandmother would make. I could imagine making this dish and changing the green color to another color (pink?) for a Valentine's dessert.

  8. 8

    deb — January 10, 2011 @ 12:54 am

    Am yet to revisit agar, had one ordinary attempt, must try again. Your flan as with all your desserts looks fab!!

  9. 9

    MrsLavendula — January 10, 2011 @ 6:28 am

    beautiful flan!

  10. 10

    Ravenous Couple — January 10, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

    @norma: make your favorite flan recipe and add agar layers too it, be creative and use any other flavors you like.

    @foodwanderings: we're definitely not the greatest flan makers, but if you try your indian flan and add the agar it would be a great compliment!

    @jean: yes, not too sweet is indeed a big complement!

    @andrea: yes, we love agar since it's so flexible, try pink for pomegranate

  11. 11

    James — January 10, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

    haha, totally agree with the "not too sweet" compliments. This dessert looks SO good. I'm usually not a huge fan of flan, but I really have to try this one.

  12. 12

    Tammy — January 11, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

    That's funny, my mom does that too! (I just got back from five weeks in Vietnam, and did we eat well…)

  13. 13

    Kung Food Panda — January 12, 2011 @ 2:27 am

    I hope to try it next time. My mom liked it! It's really not too sweet! :)

  14. 14

    Ka Pik — January 12, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

    Yep, I agree with Ravenous Couple, Asians don't really like food too sweet. I think the people who try out the Rau Cau Flan should also try Strawberry Tofu Dessert as it is liked by a lot of people that I recommend, recipe is found on http://www.fourgreensteps.com/community/recipes/desserts-a-goodies-/strawberry-tofu-dessert. Most of the people were Asians but 2/5 of the people weren't so even if not Asian, I highly recommend you to try or you'll regret it for the rest of your life!!!!!

  15. 15

    Sippity Sup — January 12, 2011 @ 11:54 pm

    I actually came here to see if you had a squid salad. But I got distracted by this beautiful flan. So interesting. Now I'm off to find a squid salad. I just bet you have one here. GREG

  16. 16

    Torviewtoronto — January 13, 2011 @ 1:18 am

    delicious flan

  17. 17

    Justin — January 13, 2011 @ 2:41 am

    i have no idea if i would like to eat something like this, but it's definitely one of the coolest looking desserts i've ever seen.

  18. 18

    Ba — January 14, 2011 @ 3:16 am

    Can you buy agar powder at Super Wal-Mart or any other American Chain Supermarket?

  19. 19

    Kim — January 15, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

    Beautiful dessert, guys! And thx for featuring the tangerines. :-)

    I absolutely agree that Asians (us Vietnamese in particilar) gravitate towards desserts that aren't overly sweet. The rainbow flan reminds me of the tri-color flans my aunts and uncles would make for special occassions… except for ours were less sophisticated and assembled in clear plastic Dixie cups.

    Enjoy another beautiful weekend!


  20. 20

    Jackie at Phamfatale.com — January 18, 2011 @ 8:32 pm

    Lovely dessert combo! Perfect for the coming new year celebration :)

  21. 21

    Kitchen M — February 1, 2011 @ 11:31 pm

    Yours looks better than what I just had from a bakery! Yes, I totally agree. I prefer my desserts to be "not-too-sweet".

  22. 22

    SellWoWAccount — February 3, 2011 @ 1:59 am

    That looks delicious! Great shot!

    Sell WoW Account

  23. 23

    leihino — November 7, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

    I have try to make flan before, but fail to do so. I tried your recipe for flan and it work amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  24. 24

    Jim Tran — December 30, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

    Just made the flan. Awesome! I actually used a bundt pan, and maybe that’s eh the sugar layer didn’t come off the pan? When I Inverted the pan, the flan just separate from the sugar layer leaving the crystallized sugar on pan. What did I do wrong? It still tasted great. Thanks.

  25. 25

    Amy — March 8, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

    I try this out today ( the agar part) put the coconut layer just doesn’t seem to set as the other 2. Is it because there is no water added (like your regular pandan, coconut, coffee jello receipe or is it because I add too much coconut milk ( I add a bit more that 1 cup because the pandan layer seem too hard base on 1 cup of water?) Thanks

  26. 26

    The Ravenous Couple — March 9, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

    coconut should still get firm, maybe there wasn’t enough agar

  27. 27

    Morgan Ellese Almora — March 22, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

    it is very very very very very very very very very good!

  28. 28

    Morgan Ellese Almora — March 22, 2012 @ 6:51 pm

    Amy did you make the cake?

  29. 29

    Morgan Ellese Almora — March 22, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

    this is like a little chat

  30. 30

    Morgan Ellese Almora — March 23, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

    hey anyone who is on then……………………….this is like a little chat

  31. 31

    Morgan Ellese Almora — March 23, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

    i don`t know what agar is.

  32. 32

    Nilram Irallam — October 8, 2012 @ 10:16 am

    I am very pleased that I found your website, and so far I have tried making this rainbow flan over the weekend and also the Banh Cam, and I tell you, your step by step directions was very helpful. I asked my sister to buy me the mold for Banh Deo and I want to try making it, I want to thank you both for sharing your talent, God bless you both and more power!!!!!!

  33. 33

    Courtney — March 11, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

    That looks amazing! You have beautiful pictures! I can’t wait to try it!

  34. 34

    Terry — June 24, 2013 @ 11:03 am

    What form of agar did you use? powder?

  35. 35

    The Ravenous Couple — August 12, 2013 @ 8:35 am

    yes, powder is easier to measure

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