Vietnamese Jello Cake - Rau câu khuôn

By Helen Le Published: February 28, 2014

  • Prep: 45 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Ready In: 1 hr 30 mins

  • Yield: 6-8 Servings

This jello cake used to be very popular in the 90s. Nowaways it has lost its popularity due to the Western dessert trends. This jello cake is made from agar agar, coconut milk and different flavorings. Agar-agar is made from seaweed and it is popularly used in Vietnamese cooking to make jelly instead of gelatin. It's a great alternative for vegetarians who do not want to use animal (usually pork) gelatin in desserts.

  • For each color, mix 1 tbsp agar-agar powder with 4 tbsp water in a bowl. Depending how many colors you want to make, prepare the respective number of bowls. Stir well and set aside for 15 minutes.
  • Decide which color you need to fill first (it's for the deepest parts of the mold). In a small saucepan, combine the juice of the respective color, coconut milk, sugar and the agar-agar mixture. Bring to a boil while constantly stirring. When it boils, lower the heat and skim off the foam.
  • Grease the mold with some coconut oil/ butter. Carefully pour the liquid into the parts of the mold you want to fill. If you accidentally pour into the wrong part, just wait for it to set and remove with a toothpick or Q-tip. Keep the remaining liquid in the saucepan on very low heat, or in a hot water bath to slow down the setting process.
  • Continue similarly with other colors and flavors. When finish filling all the hollow parts, pour a white jello layer (with coconut milk) on top to set as a background.
  • Pour the reserved jello liquid of previous colors on top, layer by layer. Always wait for the previous layer to set before pouring in the new layer. If the reserved jello liquid is set, you can reheat or microwave to bring it back to liquid form.
  • Leave the cake 3-5 hours in the refrigerator to set completely. To unmold, place the mold in hot water to loosen it out. Run a paring knife along the edges and unmold onto a cake stand or a plate. Serve chilled.


The jello layers should stick to each other but not mixed together. Hence, time management is most crucial in making this jello cake. You have to wait long enough for the previous layer to set before pouring  the new layer. However, if the waiting time between 2 layers is too long, they might not stick to each other and stay seperated.