Or how to turn a fail into a win.
So, when I told you about the chocolate slice yesterday, I neglected to mention the not-quite-right dragon fruit sauce attempt. Unfortunately, I didn’t cook the sauce down enough and ended up with dragonfruit flavoured sweet water.
To be honest, I find dragon fruit quite bland and pretty much avoid it. MC Junior however loves it, I think more for the novelty value of having pink stained lips. The striking colour of this dragon fruit really adds a “pop” to fruit platters. I bet it would make a good addition to salsa too. But be careful when handling it, the juice can stain.
Ain't it pretty? There is a white fleshed version of dragon fruit. It's hard to tell from the outside because they look similar, best to ask the fruit shop person.
Since it was another sweltering day today, I decided to turn the fruit into a cooling agar dessert.
Basically it’s just “jelly/jello” made with agar instead of gelatin. I found these dried agar strands at the shops one day and just had to pick them up. These strands were what we used to make agar-agar throughout my childhood. When we moved to Australia, I couldn’t find these and had to use agar powder instead. I always thought the jelly made from that powder didn’t feel quite “right”. I’m not sure if it’s just in my mind or the strength of nostalgia playing tricks on my tastebuds.
Agar strands after soaking
Anyway, the jelly is super easy to make and requires minimal ingredients. If you can’t find dragon fruit, feel free to substitute with any fruit you prefer. And unlike gelatin, you don’t really have to worry about fruit like pineapple as can be seen in this post. I had read that vinegar could interfere with the setting of agar, so out of curiosity I placed a ladleful of the hot agar liquid into a bowl and added a teaspoonful of apple cider vinegar. It set with no problems at all. If you do have troubles setting the agar, chances are it wasn’t boiled enough or maybe more agar was needed.
Agar with vinegar. Set without a problem.
Agar with dragonfruit and orange - a simple guide, feel free to mix it up.
(This will give a fairly firmly set agar which is how we usually eat it. For something wobblier, you’d have to used more water. However, I don’t think agar and gelatin are comparable, they both have a different mouthfeel so I prefer to stick with the firm texture.)
approx. 10-12g agar strands (if using powder, check the ratios on the packaging)
5 cups water
1 cup caster sugar (adjust to taste)
3 pandan (screwpine) leaves to scent the water. If unavailable, you could use vanilla or ginger or any other aromatic
1 small orange, peeled, segmented and cut into small pieces
1/2 a red dragonfruit (cut into small pieces)
extra water for soaking the agar (this water will be discarded so measurements don’t matter)
Pandan leaves - I was given three "baby" plants for my balcony. Yay
Prepare some clean moulds for the finished agar, any heatproof container will do. I used some glasses and a round cake tin.
If using agar strands, wash lightly and soak in cold water. Boil the 5 cups of water and pandan leaves together and when simmering, add the drained agar strands. Stir well until agar dissolves. Bring back to the boil and simmer for a minute or two, stirring well. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
Remove from heat, fish out the leaves and pour the agar into moulds. When slightly cool, add the pieces of fruit - keep an eye on the agar as it sets quite quickly Chill until firm. Tastes best when thoroughly chilled.