These symmetrically gorgeous yellow and white pieces of soft squares are the stuff of dreams most soothing and calm. As lovely and mysterious as these are to look at, they taste almost as tranquil and smooth.
‘Woon mamuang’ as these are called in Thai are really mango mousse made with agar-agar, a sort of vegan gelatine so to say, that’s made of seaweed and thus vegan, vegetarian friendly. I first had them in Thailand and couldn’t get over the almost enigmatic texture of these tender squares. They’re not too wobbly, as one would expect regular jellies made of gelatine, yet softly yielding with a fresh fruity taste that almost feels like eating mangoes in a different form. There’s a sort of gentleness to their aspect that works really well as a light dessert, for it doesn’t fill you up, not to mention that their primary ingredients or rather the only ingredients are pureed mangoes and coconut milk, both of which form a kind of ethereal bond of mellow pleasantness.
I made these for the first time and learnt after a few errors the exact workings of agar agar, and will explain them in this post so you don’t make the same mistakes.
the ingredients are mangoes, sugar, lime, strawberries, coconut milk, water and agar agar.
peel the mangoes
and chop/cube them to be made into a puree.
add in a squirt of lime juice to add just another dimension of flavours
and blend to form a puree, making sure there are no lumps.
water in a pot, don’t turn on the heat yet, because unlike gelatine agar agar will turn into something of a mess if dumped into hot water.
add in agar agar and slowly start heating the water.
stir water constantly or else the agar agar might settle at the bottom and clump together.
keep stirring until agar agar is completely dissolved.
once that is done, add in the sugar and let is dissolve
add in mango puree
and whisk until it’s mixed well and there are no lumps
there are various ways to go about making woon mamuang. You can either make individual pieces in moulds or one big piece in a tray. I went with the latter option.
Now the the thing with agar agar is that it begins to set soon after it starts cooling down and can set at room temperature as well, so we have to be a bit quick about things, but don’t get yourself in a frenzy as I did. Pour half the mango mixture to form the bottom layer.
Add in chopped strawberries. you can even add mango cubes or coconut meat or nothing. I love the reds of strawberries with the yellows of mango.
they look like rose petals.
while that sets, we can get on with making the coconut milk layer. Start heating a pot of water with agar agar until it completely dissolves
add sugar and coconut milk
and pour the hot coconut milk mixture over the now set layer of mango layer and pop all the air bubbles or rather most of them using a toothpick.
Error: here’s the mistake I made. I checked the mango layer in corners of the pan and thought it to be set, whereas the middle part of the layer had not set at all, which is why some part of the coconut milk layer has floating strawberries on it. Therefore check that the bottom layer has almost completely set. It should be a little tacky, but shouldn’t stick to your fingers.
once the coconut layer has set pour over the remaining mango mixture and let set completely and refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving.
Note: keep the remaining mango mixture warm while the coconut milk layer sets, because once it cools down it will begin to congeal.
cut into squares and serve chilled.
For the mango layer
Mangoes: 430g (about 2 cups)
Water: 350 mls (1.5 cups)
Sugar: 100g (1/2 cup)
Agar agar: 2tsp
Lime juice: 1tsp
Strawberries: 80g (1/2 cup)
For the coconut milk layer
Coconut milk: 200mls (1 cup)
Water: 200 mls (3/4 cup)
Sugar: 4-5 tbsp
Agar agar: 1 tsp
Recipe instructions: Puree mangoes with lime juice, chop strawberries and keep aside.
Add agar agar to a pot of cold water and gently bring up to heat, stirring constantly until agar agar dissolves. Add sugar and pureed mangoes and whisk until sugar has dissolved and no lumps remain.
Gently pour half the mixture into moulds, making sure that no air bubbles are formed. Strew in chopped strawberries and allow this layer to set, while keeping the remaining mango mixture warm.
Make the coconut milk mixture by adding agar agar to water and slowly bringing to heat, stirring constantly until agar agar is completely dissolved. Add in coconut milk and sugar and once sugar is dissolved as well, pour the coconut milk mixture very gently over the now set mango mixture. To ensure that no air bubbles are formed you can even spoon this mixture.
In case any bubbles do get formed, pop them with a toothpick.
Once the coconut milk mixture had set gently pour the remaining mango puree over it and let it set completely and refrigerate before serving.
Few things to remember: Do not let agar agar settle at the bottom of the pan while dissolving in water. Keep stirring constantly.
Check if the layers have set by gently tapping the middle area, it should be tacky to the touch but shouldn’t stick.
Do not let remainder mixture to cool down because it begins to set. Keep over low heat in case the temperatures are cool.
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