This recipe for Chinese Almond Jelly is a classic dim sum dessert featuring almond-flavored jelly set with agar, served with fruit cocktail.
What is Chinese almond jelly?
Chinese Almond Jelly is a dessert of almond jello served with mixed fruit cocktail, most commonly served at dim sum.
It is also known as Chinese Almond Tofu 杏仁豆腐 due to its likeness in appearance to dessert tofu 豆腐花 (dau fu fa), but actually does not contain any tofu.
As with other misnomers like pineapple buns (bo lo bao), Chinese almond jelly also doesn't contain any almonds.
Originally, the dessert was made by extracting the "milk" from apricot kernels, which have a resemblance to almonds in appearance and in flavor.
What is agar?
Commonly referred to as agar agar, agar (known as kanten in Japanese) is derived from red algae seaweed native to Southeast Asia.
It is clear and odorless, predominantly used as a setting or gelling agent, similar to gelatin powder.
There are many forms of agar, including agar powder, agar flakes and agar sheets.
Agar powder is the easiest to find in grocery stores, and is easy to use.
Why you'll love this recipe
This recipe for Chinese almond jello is:
Easy to make: with only a few hands-on steps, the rest is letting it set and chill in the fridge.
Refreshing: low in fat and deliciously jiggly, it's a great way to end a meal.
Nostalgic: this recipe will invoke those childhood memories seeing the dim sum cart ladies offering this retro dessert.
Ingredients you'll need
- almond milk: unsweetened; you can substitute with regular dairy milk
- granulated sugar: for a little sweetness; to your taste
- agar powder: sets the jelly; note: be sure to check the ingredient list to ensure it is 100% pure agar powder, and not a powder pre-mixed with sugar
- almond extract: use a high-quality almond extract for the best flavor
- mixed fruit cocktail: canned; or you can use a medley of fresh fruit of your choice
You can find these ingredients at your local grocery store.
How to make the almond jelly
Combine almond milk, sugar, and agar powder in a small saucepan.
Bring the mixture up to a boil over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes. (Be careful not to let the almond milk bubble over).
Remove the mixture from heat and stir in the almond extract.
Strain the mixture through a sieve into a small glass container or your desired mold and let it cool.
Use a spoon to remove any bubbles on the surface. Chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours, or until set.
How to serve
Cut the almond jelly into cubes, add to a glass or bowl and serve chilled with mixed fruit cocktail, canned lychee or your choice of fresh fruit.
This almond jelly dessert is a great palate cleanser after a dim sum meal of taro puffs, pork siu mai, ham sui gok (fried glutinous rice dumplings), lo bak go (turnip cake), lo mai gai (sticky rice in lotus leaf), and Chinese baked BBQ buns.
How to store
Store the almond jelly in the fridge until ready to serve.
Do not freeze almond jelly as the texture will change.
Expert tips & substitutions
Agar needs to be brought to a boil first before it can set.
Agar sets harder than gelatin. If you prefer a softer, wobbly jelly, you can use 1.5 teaspoon of gelatin powder for 250ml almond milk.
If the almond milk you're using has thickeners and stabilizers, it can produce a lot of foam/bubbles. Just be aware of this when bring the almond milk up to a boil.
When preparing to set, if there are bubbles on the top of the liquid, use a small spoon to remove them. (Totally optional, but makes the jelly look neat).
To help release the jelly, lightly run a sharp thin knife around the edges of the container. Place the container in a tub of hot water for 30 - 60 seconds to loosen, and then invert.
You can use regular whole milk or skim milk if you prefer a dairy version.
Easily double or triple the recipe to make more.
Tip: if you have leftover mixed fruit cocktail, use it to make Chinese Bakery-Style Mixed Fruit Birthday Cake.
Other jelly recipes you may like
Be sure to check out these recipes:
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Chinese Almond Jelly
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 250 ml almond milk unsweetened
- 25 g granulated sugar or to taste
- ½ teaspoon agar powder
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 can mixed fruit cocktail or assorted fresh fruit of your choice
- Combine almond milk, sugar, and agar powder in a small saucepan.
- Bring the mixture up to a boil over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes. (Be careful not to let the almond milk bubble over).
- Remove the mixture from heat and stir in the almond extract.
- Strain the mixture through a sieve into a small glass container or your desired mold and let it cool.
- Use a spoon to remove any bubbles on the surface.
- Chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours, or until set.
- Cut almond jelly into small cubes and serve in a glass or bowl with mixed fruit cocktail.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.