I'm quite pleased with how these turned out. Then again, I'm also besotted with our new 8 cell recessed heart silicone bakeware mould.
These ended up rich and creamy with a richness of caramel Dulche De Leche and undertones of coffee - kind of like a Starbucks caramel latte with cream I suppose !
I'd advise serving them at room temperature. They were really easy to release from the moulds. Literally, just a little squeeze and out they pop.
Initially however, these seemed a bit of a disaster ! I was playing with agar agar for the first time which had been sent to me by blogger friend Ann Low of Ancoo Journal a couple of months ago. I'm well stocked on agar agar now as my dear friend Zurin of Cherry On a Cake has sent me some too :-)
In case you don't know what agar agar is, it's a vegetarian jelly made from seaweed. It has no taste, so you do need to add flavouring. It can also set at room temperature, and sets much much quicker than regular gelatine.
The instructions on the packet say to add 1000mls of water, 250g of sugar and 1 pack of agar agar plus desired flavouring. Boil for a few minutes and then pour into your moulds. In Asian countries, pandan leaves are often used as flavoring for agar agar. I like making things that are a bit different from the norm where I can, so decided to work on something that would have my own twist.
1000mls was an awful lot of jelly. I worked out that each packet had 6 tsp - so I worked with just a 1/2 quantity
3tsp of agar agar powder
1 can condensed milk
4 tablespoons Camp Chicory & Coffee Essence
You could substitute the Camp Coffee for a shot of expresso. Camp Chicory & Coffee Essence is made in Glasgow, Scotland and has been used in hot milk as a type of instant coffee (and in baking) for over 100 years. It's lovely in coffee cake !
Anyway, I put the water and agar agar into a saucepan and brought to the boil for 2 or 3 minutes before adding the coffee extract.
I then removed half a cup of the mixture and set aside.
To the remaining mixture, I added the can of condensed milk and stirred off the heat before pouring in to the 8 recessed heart silicone mould. I added less liquid than the started 500ml as I figured that I likely did not need as much given the condensed milk was a 450g (approx) can and runny.
Well - when removed from the mould, they were almost like rubber blocks and really really firm. When I tried to bend it a little - it felt like it snapped in two ! The texture was not to my liking, though they tasted ok. At that point, they were just creamy and a bit of a coffee taste too.
I decided it would be best to melt them down again and add some more water, so I chopped them up and shoved them back in the pan with an extra 150ml of water on a low heat.
This is where something decidedly odd happened.....
The condensed milk started to turn into caramel on the bottom of the pan - despite the fact it wasn't really that hot. I barely got the temperature up to as high as simmering before taking it off the heat !
Pouring it into the moulds this time, it was considerably thicker than the first time. The really odd thing was that I ended up with EXACTLY the same finished volume the second time - despite having added another 150ml of water. Where on earth did it go ? I can imagine that much would evaporate in such a short time !
Thankfully, after a second set, the texture of these was much better.
With the remaining agar agar (without condensed milk) I added 2 tsp of sugar and approx 70ml of water and warmed it in a saucepan.
I then scratched the recessed area inside the heart jellies (so the next layer would adhere) and filled each recess with the liquid
That's it !
These do taste quite yummy. The textures of agar agar is however very different to conventional gelatine and I don't really know yet that I like it. I'm very tempted to recreate this using gelatine leaves at some point as a direct comparison
Sarah-Jane Nash - www.siliconemoulds.com - July 2011