Moon cakes are massive in Singapore at the moment. Moon cakes are intricately stamped pastries with a dense filling. They are traditionally given as presents to friends and family during the Chinese mid autumn festival. They often contain a salted egg yolk which represents the moon as the mid autumn festival is a harvest festival that worships the full moon.
They are everywhere at the moment and often sold in gift packs. They are expensive! I’m talking $40 for a set of 4 on average. The detail in them is amazing, so I daresay that’s why the price tag is a little steep. Key was lucky enough to try some he was given by a work colleague and I think before they start disappearing, we will need to buy some as I typically love Asian desserts.
Despite the obvious differences in Western and Eastern desserts, similarities are definitely there too. Think of a Thai sticky black rice dessert compared to a classic English rice pudding. Or ice kacang, which is finely shaved ice flavoured with various syrups and fruits, compared to an ice block or icy pole.
Jelly is often eaten in South East Asia as a dessert, but here it is more likely set with agar agar instead of gelatine. Agar agar is easier than gelatine to come by in South East Asia, but it also has the added benefit of setting into a hard jelly that will set and stay set even in the heat. Gelatine is not as stable and will start to break down and melt if it gets too hot.
This almond jelly is made with agar agar and is paired with a tropical fruit salad. It’s a lovely light and refreshing dessert that is reasonably low on sugar and saturated fat and completely vegan too :)
Agar agar is really easy to find in Singapore. I just bought mine from the supermarket. You can find it in Australia though too. Try a speciality food store or a health food store if your supermarket doesn’t have it.
Make sure you bring the liquid up to a rolling boil. You want that agar agar to really dissolve into the almond milk.
You can use a plastic or metal container to set the jelly in. It sets so well that you don’t need to worry about greasing it or anything like that. Try and use a container that will give you a fairly high jelly when you tip it out, so that you can cut it into nice cube shapes once it’s set.
Skim the froth from the top before it has time to start cooling down and setting.
It sets really firm and is easy to handle. Mine set so well that you could even see the imprint of the text from the plastic container on it.
A jelly using agar agar will eventually set at room temperature but cooling it in the fridge will speed the process. It will need at least an hour in the fridge but setting time will vary depending on the depth of the mould you are using. I let mine sit in the fridge for around 4 hours before I prepared the fruit for serving, but it would have been set well before the 4 hours were up.
I finally found passionfruit…YAY :)
I tried to cut my melon and jelly to around the same size, simply because I thought it looked pretty :)
You could of course use fresh lychees and I certainly live in a country where I have easy access to them, but I embarrassingly prefer the taste (and ease) of canned.
Use any fruit you like, this almond jelly would work with so many different types of fruit. Kiwi and mango would be lovely or you could try raspberries and orange segments.
Almond Jelly with Tropical Fruit Salad
Ingredients – Serves 3-4
For the Jelly
- 2 cups of unsweetened UHT almond milk
- 5g agar agar powder
- 1/3 cup of fine sugar
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 1 cup of drained canned lychees, some syrup retained
- 2 cups of roughly chopped rockmelon chunks
- Pulp from 1 large passionfruit
- Combine all of the jelly ingredients into a medium sized saucepan and set it over a low heat.
- Stir it constantly until the sugar dissolves and then increase the heat to medium and stirring occasionally, bring the liquid to a boil.
- Once the liquid has boiled, remove from the heat and pour into a mould. Skim any bubbles or froth from the top.
- Let it sit at room temperature for around 20 minutes for it to cool slightly, then place in the fridge to set and firm up completely. It will need at least an hour to set in the fridge but setting time will vary depending on the depth of the mould you are using.
- Once completely set, turn out onto a cutting board and using a sharp knife, cut out cubes of jelly.
- The cubes can be mixed with the fruit salad now for serving or can be placed back in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
- To serve, mix together the jelly cubes and the fruit with a small amount of the reserved canned lychee syrup. Garnish with mint leaves if you like.
- The jelly keeps well in the fridge for a few days but once assembled, the fruit will not keep for as long. If you are not planning on using all of the jelly at once, keep it separate from the fruit and assemble once you are ready to serve.