Vietnamese Desserts Recipes

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Rau Cau Dua: Vietnamese Coconut Jello Recipe Recipe

Rau câu is Vietnamese jello made with agar agar, which is a seaweed by-product, similar to gelatin (except it's vegetal). Several months ago, family friends came for dinner and brought delicious rau câu made with nước dừa ("coconut juice" in Vietnamese). We usually serve the more traditional Vietnamese dessert made with sweetened condensed milk and flavor it with layers of chocolate, mocha, pandan and sometimes durian, but I really like the flavor of this variation. I was also pleasantly surprised at how easy this version was to make. All you need is a few cans of coconut juice with pulp and agar agar. How simple is that?

The coconut jello has another great advantage. It has the same texture as pana cotta, so you can serve it to children without being scared of any spilling or any accidents on your floor. I've adopted this cube version whenever I make it for kids. You can use the same recipe using your children's favorite drinks. It's mess-free and melts in your mouth. They’ll love it!


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Tofu Dessert in Ginger Syrup (Tau Hu Nuoc Duong) Recipe

Tàu hũ nước đường is a Vietnamese tofu dessert in ginger syrup. The texture of silken tofu is very similar to custard, but without the calories. I used store-bought silken tofu (see tips) and paired it with clementine ginger syrup. The early crop of clementines we harvested from our garden are not extremely sweet. They have a hint of tartness, which is just the way I like them! The zest is so fragrant I had to use it in this syrup.

I have made my own firm tofu before, which is quite easy, but I've always wanted to make silken tofu. After a few searches, I stumbled upon Wendy's beautiful Chinese food blog, where she shares her technique on how to make silken tofu, using Glucono-Delta-Lactone (GDL). I haven't tried her recipe yet, because I first have to find this ingredient. I can't wait to make my own silken tofu; I will definitely keep you posted.


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Coconut Milk Ice Cream Recipe with Chestnut Swirl Recipe

This recipe proves that vegan doesn't always mean healthy. Coconut cream, coconut milk, sugar, pure vanilla extract, chestnut purée and stabilizers combine to make a vegan ice cream recipe that tips the scales at about 3000 calories per quart (that's 375 calories per serving). But there aren’t any eggs or dairy products!

I recently received a request for a vegan ice cream recipe from Leslie. It was the first time I tried making a vegan dessert. I made use of the same combination of stabilizers I use in other egg-free recipes, namely soy lecithin and xanthan gum. I increased the quantity to improve mouth-feel though. Xanthan gum in particular inhibits the formation of ice crystals, which create a more pleasing texture.

After tasting the final product, everyone in the house agreed that the ice cream strongly resembled chè, a very popular Vietnamese dessert. I hadn't anticipated that at all. Since I swirled the ice cream with chestnut purée, I thought it would have a more French flavor to it, but that was not the case. That's one of the things I love about cooking. I really enjoy experimenting, and the results of these culinary adventures can add completely new recipes to my repertoire.

My husband Lulu has decided to leave the ice cream maker on the kitchen counter until the end of summer to encourage us to make ice cream more often this year. I’ll post our concoctions on here all summer, so at least some good can come out of my impending weight gain. Stay tuned!


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Happy Valentine and Vietnamese New Year 2010! Recipe
Today is Valentine's Day and Tết (the Vietnamese New Year)! First, I want to tell my husband Lulu how much I love him. We've known each other for more than 10 years now, married for 5 and I look forward to spending more years of blissful happiness with the love of my life. Joyeuse Saint-Valentin mon coeur!



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Recipes for a Chinese New Year Celebration Recipe

If you're wondering what the inscription on the photo is, it says "Chúc Mừng Năm Mới" or Happy New Year in Vietnamese. This year, since the Asian New Year follows the Lunar calendar, we have 2 celebrations at the same time: Valentine's Day and Tết (the Vietnamese New Year). We're going to be celebrating a romantic Lunar New Year of the Tiger !

I've started decorating the house with things that symbolize the New Year. I went to San Jose and bought Vietnamese flowers called bông vạn thọ, which literally translates to "longevity flowers". As usual, every year, I'm on a quest to find the best bánh tét. It's a must to have traditional food for Vietnamese Lunar New Year. I went to several different stores on Tully road (San Jose, California) and I'll give you the results this weekend of the best places I've found. Some of you might not know what a bánh tét is; it's a ake roll made from sticky glutinous rice and red beans with a center of mung bean paste with or without meat. The flavors vary; there could also be bananas in place of the lentils and meat. 

If you are observing the tradition of eating vegetarian foods (ăn chay) on the last day of the previous year and first day of New Year, check out my tofu recipes.

For more details about Chinese New Year celebrations, check out last year's post.

Banh Tet in Banana Leaves Picture
Bánh Tét (Sticky rice roll cakes wrapped in banana leaves).


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