Rau Cau (Coconut, Mocha, Pandan flavored Vietnamese Jello Cake)

Rau Cau (Coconut, Mocha, Pandan flavored Vietnamese Jello Cake) Recipe

Rau câu is a Vietnamese jello cake that is made out of agar agar, which is a seaweed by product similar to gelatin. It's made out of coconut milk, condensed milk and layers of your favorite flavorings like mocha, vanilla, coconut, banana, chocolate and durian (if you're adventurous!).. It has the same texture of pana cotta. 

It's a great alternative for vegetarians who do not want to use animal (usually pork) gelatin in desserts.


Yields: 6 servings

2 (0.88-ounce) package agar agar powder
6 cups coconut milk
2 1/3 cup superfine sugar, to taste
7 1/3 cups cold water
3/4 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Tbs pandan paste, to taste
1 Tbs mocha paste, to taste


Dissolve the agar agar in water. Pour in a sauce pan then put on the stove over high heat. Constantly stir with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil then immediately lower to medium heat. Keep stiring for an even, smooth texture.

In a different pot, heat the coconut milk, then combine with the agar agar liquid. Add sugar. Then lower the  heat. Divide the mixture into 3 bowls. Pour 4 tablespoons of condensed milk in each bowl. Add the pandan paste in one of the 3 bowls and mocha in the second bowl. Leave the third bowl as it is. Stir until the color is even.

Brush each mold with cold water. Pour the bowl with pandan mixture into the mold to form the first layer. Let it cool about 10 degrees. The oil of the coconut milk will form a skin on top. It wil start to gel. Pour the plain coconut mixture as the second layer when the top is a little sticky to the finger but the liquid hasn't reach a gel consistency. Repeat the same procedure with the mocha mixture. It's crucial that you wait enough time in between each layer so that the layers bind together without mixing with each other.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Unmold the jello cake onto a serving plate. It's delicately flavored. Serve with Vietnamese coffee.

Bon appétit


I use the Longevity Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, the one with the picture of a white long-bearded old man. You can easily find it in Asian stores, well at least it's very easy to find it in California.

I buy the Koepoe-koepoe pastes. There are rose, mocha and pandan. If you're adventurous, you can also try the durian paste. 

I use the AROY-D coconut milk brand. It has no preservatives and it is very convenient, they sell it in 8.5 oz little package (which is about 1 cup)

Superfine sugar is very convenient for desserts. It's also called caster sugar or baker's sugar. It dissolves more quickly than the regular sugar. I usually use it for liquids.

The end product should have a slightly firmer consistency than panna cotta.

Agar agar powder is a good gelatin substitute for vegans and vegetarians. It is derived from seawood and is cooked the same way you would use gelatin powder. It is widely used in Asia.I also use it to make fruit mousses like my egg-free banana mousse or chestnut mousse. I buy the Thai Telephone Brand, it's sold in 25-gram packages. (F.I.Y 0.88 oz = 25 g)

You can find a lot of pretty flowered shape molds and different sizes that sells for 99 cents at Dai Thanh Asian market on 420 S 2nd St, in San Jose. Well, it's not the prettiest. Don't expect to enter an Asian version of Whole Food, but it has all the fresh Vietnamese produce at a very reasonable price. This is one of the best "ethnic" grocerie store in the area.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on January 27, 2009.


[-] mocha paste - Guest-

Can you tell me where I can buy mocha paste online? I couldn't find it near my area.
[ Posted at 1:11 PM on 3/16/09 | Reply ]

You can find the mocha paste at VeryAsia.com. Or you can add a little freshly brewed coffee and more sugar. Or you can simply add coco powder but the taste will be slightly different. Hope this helps!

[ Posted at 10:20 AM on 3/18/09 | Reply ]
In your direction didnt mention how you get the word happy birthday and i want to make it to different shape.
[ Posted at 9:10 PM on 4/12/09 | Reply ]
[-] Different shape - Jackie
Hi Jenny,
The shape of your jello cake depends on the shape of your molds. In this recipe, I used a special "happy birthday" sign mold. I mention it at the end of the tip section. Hope this helps!
[ Posted at 10:09 PM on 4/12/09 | Reply ]
Thanks Jackie! I've always wanted to try this it's one of my favorite. Where can I find the mocha paste and the pandan....I hope it works...because it's so expensive to buy one at the vietnamese bakery!! Thanks for your recipe!
[ Posted at 2:14 PM on 4/30/09 | Reply ]
[-] Jello Cake - Guest-Lynn
I forgot to ask...so all three bowls should have the agar and coconut liquid in it? The second and third bowl should have coconut agar liquid plus the paste?
[ Posted at 2:17 PM on 4/30/09 | Reply ]

Hi Lynn,

That's correct. You'll have 3 bowls of different flavors (mocha, pandan and one with just plain coconut). Oh one more tip: After pouring each layer, wait a bit beofre pouring the next one. You want to wait enough time to let the liquid get firm, yet still sticky to the touch. If you wait too long, the layers won't adhere to each other.

You can find the pastes in any Asian store or online at VeryAsia.com.

Let me know how the dessert turns out.

[ Posted at 6:37 PM on 4/30/09 | Reply ]
[-] Rau Cau Texture - Guest-lani
Hi Jackie,

I was so happy to find the Rau Cau recipe online. I went to the store and bought the ingredients and made it last night. For some reasons, the Rau Cau texture is different from the one I bought from the Vietnamese bakery. It's missing the crunch/brittleness texture.
[ Posted at 12:24 PM on 6/8/09 | Reply ]
[-] Thanks! - Guest-candy107
I am a Mexican who loves everything Vietnamese. I recently purchased the gelatin mix from Dai thanh along with molds. I made it out of box, but I was not impressed. I will try your recipe...
[ Posted at 11:01 AM on 1/18/10 | Reply ]
[-] Mmmmm... - Guest-BxlSproutKatharine
(A tear sparkling in my eye that I can't go to San Jo and buy that mould) Oh that looks so good. I love panna cotta and love dairy-free even more. A vegan bakery near my home in Taipei sold 'flan' and now with the mocha paste idea I know how they did it--adding sponge cake too as a layer. Thanks Jacqueline!

BxlSprout_Katharine Website Link
[ Posted at 7:35 AM on 7/30/10 | Reply ]
Hey, can't wait to try this out!! Love it so much and unfortunately it's not readily available here in the U.K!

Just one question, it says to prepare all 3 flavours (coconut, pandan and mocha) at the same time however in 3 different bowls. So if only one layer(flavour) is poured into the mold each time and left to cool for a while won't the other two flavours/mixtures set in the bowls that they are left in?

[ Posted at 5:41 PM on 10/14/11 | Reply ]
Hello! I used Golden Coin Agar Agar Powder. It is sold in a package of 6oz and their recipe only calls for 6 cups of water. While yours calls for 7 3/4 cups. How would you suggest me following their recipe? Should I just follow everything else in your recipe with the 6 cups of coconut milk or should i just measure out .88 ounces? Thanks
[ Posted at 3:23 PM on 11/3/11 | Reply ]
Thanks for the recipe! Can you please let me know where you get koepoe-koepoe paste? I live in San Jose, CA.
[ Posted at 8:44 AM on 11/14/12 | Reply ]
Can u buy some and sell it for me? I don't like in California
[ Posted at 7:04 PM on 11/15/12 | Reply ]
I just made a very nice dessert for work potluck. It's gone in 10 minutes ! A big hit! And even more impressive that it was my very first time ever tried to make them.they came out just perfect! Thank you for such easy to do great recipe. Hope you'll share more of your other recipes of Vietnamese food.
[ Posted at 3:07 PM on 2/9/14 | Reply ]

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