Coconut Pandan Jelly (Thạch Rau Câu Lá Dứa)

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 21/06/2023 Updated: 30/11/2023
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 5 minutes
Total 1 hour
Delightful and stunning coconut pandan jelly is a refreshing sweet treat that showcases a mouthwatering combination of coconut and pandan flavors. This Vietnamese coconut pandan agar agar recipe is sure to impress your family and friends.
Coconut Pandan Jelly (Thạch Rau Câu Lá Dứa)

Delightful and stunning coconut pandan jelly is a refreshing sweet treat that showcases a mouthwatering combination of coconut and pandan flavors. This Vietnamese coconut pandan agar agar recipe is sure to impress your family and friends.

A round tray stacked with layered coconut pandan jelly.

Perfectly layered coconut pandan jelly or thạch rau câu lá dứa is a popular Vietnamese dessert that is as refreshing and delicious as it is captivating to look at. The green pandan layer is made with fresh pandan leaves and pandan extract for a delicate fragrant flavor. The coconut layer is made with coconut milk for a creamy, velvety texture that perfectly complements the refreshing pandan layer.

The best part about this Vietnamese coconut pandan agar agar jelly recipe is that it is completely vegan. If you are interested in more pandan dessert recipes, check out my pandan ice cream, pandan waffles, banh bo nuong (Vietnamese honeycomb cake), and cendol (che banh lot). Or try this Vietnamese coffee and cream jelly that’s another popular layered jelly.

Up close with a square of coconut pandan jelly.

What is Pandan?

Pandan is a tropical plant that is widely popular in Southeast Asian cuisine. Pandan leaves have a strong aroma that is sweet, floral, and similar to vanilla. The flavor is subtle with hints of coconut and a grassy undertone.

Pandan can be infused in Southeast Asian cuisine in various ways. It can either be infused through heat or blended with water and extracted as juice. This vibrant green ingredient can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Someone lifting up a square of coconut pandan jelly from a stack of jellies.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Here are a few reasons why you’ll love this Vietnamese pandan coconut jelly:

  • Refreshing and balanced. The rich creamy coconut layer perfectly complements the grassy vanilla pandan layer for the perfect blend of tropical flavors.
  • Beautiful aesthetic. The vibrant green pandan jelly layer paired with the creamy white coconut jelly layer is eye-catching and will surely impress your family and friends.
  • Not too sweet. This Vietnamese pandan dessert will receive the highest Asian dessert praise—it’s not too sweet.
A plate with a few coconut pandan jelly squares on it.

Kitchen Equipment

You will need the following kitchen equipment to make this coconut pandan recipe.

  • Blender: you will need a blender to pulverize the pandan leaves and create the fresh pandan extract.
  • Cheesecloth: a cheesecloth is necessary to squeeze the pandan extract without including the tiny pandan pieces.
  • Kitchen Scale: a kitchen scale will guarantee that you use the most accurate measurements for this layered coconut pandan jelly recipe.
  • 2 Small Saucepans: you will need 2 small saucepans to make both the pandan jelly and coconut jelly.
  • 1.5 qt (6.5inx 10inx 2in) container or molds: For a large mold, I used a 1.5 qt (6.5inx 10inx 2in) glass container, but alternatively you can use small individual molds as well.

Ingredients

All of the ingredients for this Vietnamese coconut pandan jelly can be found at your local Asian grocery market preferably a Vietnamese, Thai, or Chinese market.

  • Pandan Leaves: fresh or frozen pandan leaves are the key to the best pandan flavor. Make sure to thoroughly wash each leaf before adding it to your recipe.
  • Sugar: regular granulated sugar is the main sweetener. You can customize your sweetness level by adding more or less sugar.
  • Agar Agar Powder: agar agar is the main gelatin base for this pandan dessert.
  • Pandan Extract: this is optional if you are using fresh pandan leaves, but I like to use a drop of pandan extract for added pandan color and flavor.
  • Coconut milk: make sure to use full-fat coconut milk for the richest coconut flavor. I love using Chef’s Choice coconut milk, I believe it has the best flavor.
  • Salt: a touch of salt enhances the rich coconut milk flavor.
All the ingredients to make coconut pandan jelly labeled and organized.

Substitutions and Additions

You can customize your Vietnamese agar agar jelly or thach, any way you want! Here are some ideas for you to explore some new ideas.

Substitutions

  • Coconut Water: if you are not into the rich, and creamy coconut milk flavor, you can easily swap it with coconut water for a lighter flavor.
  • Pandan extract or paste: if you cannot find fresh or frozen pandan leaves, you can easily use pandan paste or pandan extract as a substitute. A little pandan extract goes a long way so slowly add it in one drop at a time until you reach your desired pandan flavor.
  • Gelatin: if you cannot find agar agar, you can use gelatin as a substitute. Be sure to follow the gelatin package instructions for the appropriate preparation. Keep in mind gelatin will also have a longer setting time than agar agar.

Additions

  • Fruit: you can make this Asian jello even more fun by adding chopped tropical fruits like mangoes, pineapples, or lychees between the coconut and pandan layers.
  • Coffee layer: if you want to add a coffee layer, you can easily add another coffee layer on top using the same measurements as the pandan layer but swapping the pandan juice for coffee instead.

How to Make Coconut Pandan Jelly

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make this coconut pandan recipe. I recommend reading through the instructions and tips section once through before you begin.

  1. Prepare pandan juice. In a blender or food processor, blend the pandan leaves with the water until pulverized. Using a cheesecloth, squeeze the pandan puree into a measuring cup. Add the remaining 500 ml through the cheesecloth and squeeze the pandan juice. It should measure out to exactly 600 ml. If it needs more liquid, add 1-2 additional tablespoons of water.
  1. Cook pandan layer. Transfer the 600ml of pandan juice into a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, add the sugar, agar agar powder, and two drops of pandan extract. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce to low heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Then turn off the heat and cover it with a lid to keep it warm.
Cooking pandan juice with agar agar in a small sauce pan.
  1. Cook coconut layer. In a second medium saucepan over medium heat, add the coconut milk, water, agar agar powder, sugar, salt, and knotted pandan leaf. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce to low heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Then turn off the heat and cover it with a lid to keep it warm.
Cooking coconut milk and agar agar in a sauce pot.
  1. Assemble the first layer. In a glass container or your silicone mold of choice, carefully spoon 1/3 of the pandan mixture (about ~170 ml) into the mold.
  1. Assemble the second layer. Wait until it is just set at room temperature. To check, gently tap your finger on the surface, it should be tacky but doesn’t come off to stick to your finger. Don’t let it set completely or the next layer will not cling to it. Then add 1/3 of the coconut mixture (about 170 ml) on top and wait until set. (tip: let the hot coconut mixture hit a spoon before hitting the pandan layer to temper the heat) Continue altering the layers until you run out of jelly. If the mixtures begin to solidify in the pan, simply reheat the mixture to liquefy.
  1. Refrigerate and serve. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours before gently running a knife around the edges, flipping the mold upside down, and slicing it into bite-sized pieces. Enjoy!

Tips for the Best Coconut Pandan Jelly

  • Use freshly washed pandan leaves. Fresh pandan leaves yield a more fragrant and vibrant pandan layer. Make sure to thoroughly wash your pandan leaves before you use them.
  • (Optional) Adjust sweetness to taste: Adjust the sugar levels of your coconut and pandan layers according to your taste preferences before you pour them into the mold.
  • Use a scale or measuring cup for even layers. For each coconut pandan layer, I used a kitchen scale to measure an exact amount (around ~170 g) for perfect-even layers.
  • Temper the heat with a cold spoon. Pour the hot coconut or pandan mixture onto a spoon before hitting the previous layer to temper the heat. This will ensure that the hot coconut or pandan mixture won’t break/melt the previous layer.
  • To prevent unwanted bubbles. Gently pour the coconut or pandan jelly into the mold and avoid pouring from too high. Pop the bubbles in between each layer with a toothpick.
  • Allow for setting time. The key to this layered Vietnamese agar agar jelly is patience. Make sure that each layer is set before adding the next layer. Test to see if the pandan jelly or coconut jelly layer is set by gently touching it with your finger. If it is slightly tacky and a little piece doesn’t stick to your finger it is ready.
  • Chill for at least 3 hours before removing and slicing. You want the agar agar jelly to be fully set before removing it from the mold and slicing. Otherwise, it may fall apart.

Storage Instructions

You can store this layered coconut pandan dessert in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days! Avoid freezing the layered pandan coconut jello as the texture will drastically change upon thawing.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

How to serve pandan coconut jello?

You can serve this Vietnamese agar agar dessert by cutting it into bite-sized cubes and eating it with a dessert fork, toothpick, or with your hands!

What is agar agar?

Agar agar is a plant-based gelatin that is derived from seaweed. It is completely odorless and tasteless which makes it ideal for desserts and cooking recipes. It is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine.

A packet of agar agar powder.

Why did my agar agar jelly not set?

It is possible that your agar agar powder was not completely dissolved when you cooked it. Make sure to mix the agar agar in the water and then bring it to a boil while constantly stirring to ensure all the agar agar powder is combined.

What do I do when my coconut or pandan jelly starts to solidify in the pot?

If the coconut or pandan jelly mixtures begin to solidify in the pan, simply reheat the mixtures and stir to get rid of the clumps. The coconut mixture is a bit thicker than the pandan layer, so it may need a little more heat to liquify and pour evenly.

Can I use pandan extract instead of fresh pandan leaves?

Yes of course! Pandan extract is the best substitute for fresh pandan leaves. The pandan extract may have a different flavor than fresh pandan leaves and the color is much more pungent.

Did you make this Vietnamese Coconut Pandan Agar Agar Jelly?

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Coconut Pandan Jelly (Thạch Rau Câu Lá Dứa)

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Assembling Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Delightful and stunning coconut pandan jelly is a refreshing sweet treat that showcases a mouthwatering combination of coconut and pandan flavors. This Vietnamese coconut pandan agar agar recipe is sure to impress your family and friends.
Servings: 6 servings
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Pandan Layer

Coconut Layer

Instructions

  • Prepare pandan juice. In a blender or food processor, blend the pandan leaves with the water until pulverized. Using a cheesecloth, squeeze the pandan puree into a measuring cup. Pour the remaining 500 ml through the cheesecloth and squeeze the pandan juice. It should measure out to exactly 600 ml. If it needs more liquid, add 1-2 additional tablespoons of water. Set aside.
  • Cook pandan layer. Transfer the 600ml of pandan juice into a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, add the sugar, agar agar powder, and two drops of pandan extract. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce to low heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Make sure that all of the agar agar has dissolved. Then turn off the heat and cover it with a lid to keep it warm.
  • Cook coconut layer. In a second medium saucepan over medium heat, add the coconut milk, water, agar agar powder, sugar, salt, and knotted pandan leaf. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce to low heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Make sure that all of the agar agar has dissolved. Then turn off the heat and cover it with a lid to keep it warm.
  • Assemble the first layer. In a glass container or your silicone mold of choice, carefully spoon 1/3 of the pandan mixture (about 170-180 ml) into the mold. Use a toothpick to pop any air bubbles.
  • Assemble the second layer. Wait until it is just set at room temperature. To check, gently tap your finger on the surface, it should be tacky but doesn’t come off to stick to your finger. Don't let it set completely or the next layer will not cling to it. Then add 1/3 of the coconut mixture (about 170 ml) on top and wait until set. (tip: let the hot agar mixture hit a spoon before hitting the first layer to temper the heat) Continue altering the layers until you run out of jelly. If the mixtures begin to solidify in the pan, simply reheat the mixture to liquefy.
  • Refrigerate and serve. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours before gently running a knife around the edges, flipping the mold upside down and slicing into bite-sized pieces. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Use freshly washed pandan leaves. Fresh pandan leaves yield a more fragrant and vibrant pandan layer. Make sure to thoroughly wash your pandan leaves before you use them.
  • Adjust sweetness to taste: Adjust the sugar levels of your coconut and pandan layers according to your taste preferences before you pour them into the mold.
  • Use a scale or measuring cup for even layers. For each coconut pandan layer, I used a kitchen scale to measure an exact amount (around ~170 g) for precise even layers.
  • To prevent unwanted bubbles. Gently pour the coconut or pandan jelly into the mold and avoid pouring from too high. Pop the bubbles in between each layer with a toothpick.
  • Allow for setting time. The key to this layered Vietnamese agar agar jelly is patience. Make sure that each layer is set before adding the next layer. Test to see if the pandan jelly or coconut jelly layer is set by gently touching it with your finger. If it is slightly tacky and a little piece doesn’t stick to your finger it is ready.
  • Temper the heat with a cold spoon. Pour the hot coconut or pandan mixture onto a spoon before hitting the previous layer to temper the heat. This will ensure that the hot coconut or pandan mixture won’t break/melt the previous layer.
  • Storage Instructions. You can store this layered coconut pandan dessert in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days! Avoid freezing the layered pandan coconut jello as the texture will drastically change upon thawing.

Nutrition:

Calories: 239kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 64mg | Potassium: 142mg | Fiber: 0.01g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 2mg

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Recipe Rating




  1. 5 stars
    Nice recipe, thanks so much for posting! The fresh pandan leaves worked super nicely, and the flavor was delicate, refreshing, and delicious! I did cut the sugar pretty significantly (60 g in the Pandan mixture, and 45 in the coconut), but it still came out great and was really tasty. Just a few notes – I’d definitely mix the agar in with the sugar before adding to prevent clumping, and whisk constantly when heating, because it’s easy to get this sort of gelatinous blob at the bottom of the pot.