Just a quick and easy one for those sudden little events that pop up over the festive season. I made these coconut jellies for a recent morning tea at work. It occurred to me just as I was getting ready for bed that I hadn’t prepared anything, so it was about working some magic in limited time and with what was lying around the pantry. These konnyaku jellies are quick and fuss free to make. They set in nearly no time at all. Even just as you’ve finishing pouring it out into your moulds, the outer layers will being to solidify. It’s amazing stuff and get this, konnyaku is completely vegan! So it’s a great vegan substitute for gelatin.
Konnyaku jelly (also known as konjac) comes from a plant native to the sub tropical regions of Asia. I love konnyaku because it has quite a distinct texture, almost like a cross between gelatin and agar agar. It holds shape like agar agar, but it has slightly chewier nature which I really favour.
It’s very popular as a fruit jelly snack across Asia, and you might have had it before without even knowing. You know those little fruit jelly cups from the Asian grocers? Yup, that’s konjac. And if your memory stretches back that far, it is the same jelly that came under fire in the late 90s and early 2000s for being a choking hazard, particularly for young children. There were a couple of pretty high profile near death cases in the United States which led to product recalls and warnings on all konnyaku jelly products. So um…perhaps don’t serve it to children under 10? But for adult functions, I don’t see a harm and personally, I’ve never, nor has people around me, experienced any choking sensations when devouring these.
You can buy konnyaku in many forms in Asian grocery stores including in gel blocks. But the easiest way to make fruit jelly is using the powdered form and just following the package information. I prefer using the unflavoured Nutrijell brand packs and playing with my own blend of flavours. I find the pre-flavoured konnyaku jelly packs to taste too artificial for my liking. For the following recipe, I just used canned young coconut juice and meat. Sugar is unnecessary because the coconut juice is sweet anyway. Using fresh fruit will give a better flavour, but I was time and resource poor that night.
RECIPE – Young coconut jellies (makes 24 little jellies)
- 1 packet unflavoured Nutrijell
- 700mL young coconut juice (fresh is best but packaged is ok)
- ~200g young coconut meat
- pinch of salt
- If using canned coconut meat, drain coconut meat from syrup and give a quick rinse under cold water first. Cut young coconut meat into smaller strips/pieces. Divide these small pieces of coconut meat into the 24 jelly moulds. Reserve.
- In a small saucepan, bring young coconut juice to the boil and add pinch of salt.
- Once the liquid comes to a boil, start gradually adding in Nutrijell while continually whisking the mixture. The powder has the tendency to form lumps when mixed with water so it is essential that you whisk as you are adding in the konnyaku.
- When all the konnyaku has been added and you get a consistent and transparent mixture without any lumps, pour hot mixture into the prepared, coconut meat filled jelly moulds.
- Place into the fridge to set for at least an hour before removing from moulds. (This jelly also has a tendency to leech liquid after it has been taken out of the mould, so best to leave them in their moulds until just prior to serving.)
How easy is that? These small plastic jelly moulds can be found at select Asian grocers and cost about $3 for a pack of 2. One packet of Nutrijell will fill 3 trays (each tray has 8 moulds).
If you don’t like coconut, you can always substitute for other fruit combinations. Lychee works well, as does a sweet floral/fruity tea syrup. I also love the look of little pieces of fresh strawberry or kiwi fruit submerged in the transparent jelly – perfect colours for Christmas too! Have fun, and if I don’t post again before Christmas – make sure you have a merry one!