Coffee-Coconut Agar Dessert Recipe

Leela Punyaratabandhu

Note: Make sure that you allow the liquid to which the agar powder is added come to a hard boil for at least 30 seconds; otherwise the powder will not be fully dissolved and your agar dessert will not set. Also, you may be tempted to use good-quality coffee and/or strong espresso. You can, although I cannot recommend it for this particular application. Espresso is so strong that it causes the coffee layer to overpower the coconut layer.

Regardless of whatever mold or design you use, make sure that the end result has between 30-50% of the coconut layer in it. Notice that the coconut layer is salted whereas the coffee layer is not. This is based on the assumption that both layers are represented in each bite with the coconut layer providing the mild saltiness that complement the sweet (and ever so slightly bitter) coffee layer. So if your design has more of the coconut part than the coffee part, it may look pretty, but it will be overly salty.

In other words, you can be creative with the layering design, but be sure to keep the proper ratio in mind.

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 30 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk, regular or low-fat
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons agar powder, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 3 cups water


  1. Add coconut milk, milk, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon of agar powder, and salt in 1-quart saucepan; whisk the mixture together and bring it to a hard boil on medium-high heat, being careful not to let the liquid boil over. After the coconut milk mixture has boiled hard for 30-40 seconds, remove the saucepan from the stove.

  2. Pour the coconut milk mixture into the mold(s) of your choice. Allow it to cool.

  3. Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon agar, instant coffee, and water in another saucepan and bring it to a hard boil over medium-high heat. Once the mixture has boiled for 30-40 seconds, remove the saucepan from the stove.

  4. Check to see whether the coconut agar layer has hardened. You don't want it to be completely solid; otherwise the two layers will not stick together and slide off one another when you serve the dessert. With your finger, touch on the surface of the coconut agar layer lightly to see if there's some resistance on the surface. If so, holding the saucepan as close to the surface of the coconut layer as possible, very gently pour the coffee layer on top of the previous layer.

  5. Let the agar set. This should take about 40 to 45 minutes at room temperature and 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

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