Vietnamese Coffee Jello - or how to kick yourself in the butt
Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 9:51PM
Nazila Merati in coffee, gelatin, gluten free, jello, jello mold january, recipes



Note: I am trying to get back into blogging. I have spent too much time wondering how people perceive me and not spending enough time not giving a whack and doing things I love. My dear Rebecca Nelson of the Ravenna Blog asked me to post a recipe for a Community Board Newsletter and while walking the dog and wracking my addled brain, this popped to mind.

Coffee and gelatin, builds strong brains and hooves.

This winter, I was joking with some of my Twitter friends about gelled desserts. I had posted a picture of a sublime trio of poached quince, quince jelly and shortbread from one of my favorite restaurants in London, St. John Bread and Wine. The quince was offset by a nice whipped cream and the combination of all the flavors and textures worked well together.  A Twitter conversation started about Jell-O molds. It turns out that some people actually use them instead of displaying them on their kitchen walls. Imagine that.  My intent was to experiment with all sorts of gelled recipes in the month of January, but like all things, life got in the way. I was able to convince TH that gelled desserts were very important and she suffered through many different experiments.  My best effort was a cherry juice jelly; my worst was a green tea lemon jelly that looked like the slime we used to buy in the little green garbage cans at the toy store.

Coffee jelly is a classic New England dessert – leftover coffee is saved, when you have enough, you heat it up, add some gelatin, sugar and in a few hours, you have created a thrifty light dessert that uses up your leftovers and nothing goes to waste. Serve with some whipped cream on the side, and you can win over the most skeptical of critics. Better yet, you can use decaf and they would never know.

I decided to see where else I could take this.  I found a great recipe for one of my favorite drinks turned into a gelled dessert from The Food Librarian.  I have enjoyed Vietnamese coffee -a sweet, strong coffee served either hot or cold when dining out, but never tried making it at home. The coffee is traditionally made using a drip filter to which sweetened condensed milk is then stirred into the coffee. It is a great substitute for dessert when dining out.  It also lends itself well to gelling. The recipe is quick to make, requires very few ingredients and is sophisticated enough to serve at an elegant dinner party.

Vietnamese Coffee Jelly - adapted from The Food Librarian– serves 6 – 8

Active time – 15 minutes

Chilling time – 4 hours


 2.5 cups strong brewed coffee (French Roast is fine) – divided (1/2 cup and 2 cups) – Decaf or Regular coffee

1 14 oz. can or squeeze bottle of Sweetened Condensed milk (I use Trader Joe’s)

3 packets (3/4 oz or 21 grams) of unflavored gelatin

To serve – unsweetened whipped cream


Place the ½ cup of cold coffee into a 2 quart bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the coffee and let it sit for 10 minutes to bloom (or enlarge) before getting incorporated into a hot liquid.

During this time, heat the remaining 2 cups of coffee (don’t boil, but does need to be hot)

After gelatin has bloomed, add heated coffee to gelatin and stir in the sweetened condensed milk, stir to make sure all is dissolved.

Pour into a 9x13” Pyrex (glass) baking dish, or a ceramic bowl (1 quart). Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm.

Remove from refrigerator. If in baking dish, cut into squares and serve. In a Jell-O mold or ceramic pudding basin, run a little warm water around the outside of the mold or bowl to loosen and then turn out onto a plate. Cut into serving pieces. 


Notes – can add a touch of cinnamon or nutmeg to coffee to give it a little bit of spice

Gluten free

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