Azuki Coffee Jelly (also called Red Bean Coffee Jelly) is an old school local Hawaii dessert. It's easy to make at home and very popular at parties. Served chilled, this layered jelly uses only pantry ingredients for contrasting layers of azuki beans, coffee jelly, and sweetened condensed milk jelly. It is beautiful and delicious!
Why This Recipe Works
If you grew up in Hawaii, you might be very familiar with this dessert. Azuki Coffee Jelly!
I don't see it as often these days, but all through the 80s and 90s, Azuki Coffee Jelly was a super popular dessert that showed up everywhere.
We'd make it at home for weeknight desserts. Someone would always bring it for a potluck party. Moms and aunties would make it for after school snacks. It even showed up as post-soccer game snacks for the elementary school kids (always brought to the game in a big cooler).
I remember it being popular all the way up till high school, and then slowly I saw it less and less frequently. I'm not sure why, but I miss it. Thankfully in the last year or two this dessert has been making a quiet reappearance at gatherings...a revival! A good one ^_^
This dessert features 3 distinct layers:
- Bottom layer: Tsubushian (aka mashed azuki beans)
- Middle layer: Coffee Jelly
- Top layer: Sweetened Condensed Milk Jelly
But unlike the beloved Rainbow Jello and it's many layers, you don't having to painstakingly make Azuki Coffee Jelly layer by layer. (FYI - Rainbow Jello is very much worth the effort but requires more commitment.)
For Azuki Coffee Jelly, you just mix everything in a bowl and pour it in a pan. The three layers naturally separate as the dessert sets in the refrigerator.
It is super easy to make. And crazy delicious. Which explains why everyone loves this dessert.
This jelly dessert is served chilled, always so welcome on hot Hawaii days. The coffee gives a nice caffeinated boost (you can use decaf coffee if preferred) and pairs beautifully with azuki beans. The top sweetened condensed milk layer brings everything together. And it's all served in a jelly form! What's not to love?
What Is Tsubushian?
One of the main ingredients in this dessert is tsubushian. Tsubushian is sweetened and mashed azuki beans. It is delicious and used in many Asian desserts like mochi!
Tsubushian is sold in Japanese markets (and often other Asian markets), either in cans or sealed pouches. In Hawaii we can even find tsubushian at Longs Drugs and pretty much all supermarkets.
If you look for tsubushian at the market, you might come across another similar product called koshian. What's the difference between tsubushian and koshian?
They are both sweetened and mashed azuki beans. BUT there's one key difference. Tsubushian are beans that are mashed with SKIN ON. Koshian are beans that are mashed with SKIN OFF.
You want tsubushian for this recipe.
Here's what you'll need to make Azuki Coffee Jelly:
- Unflavored gelatin powder - We usually use the Knox brand of gelatin powder.
- Cold coffee - You need cold coffee so that the gelatin can dissolve/bloom without clumping.
- Hot coffee - We add hot coffee later to the mixture.
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Tsubushian (aka mashed azuki beans) - You can purchase this by the can or pouch at Japanese markets. We usually used the canned version.
See my recipe card below for a complete list of the ingredients with measurements.
Step by Step Directions
Here are the directions:
Dissolve/bloom the gelatin.
First step is to get a big mixing bowl and pour the cold coffee into the bowl. Then sprinkle all the gelatin powder over the cold coffee. Do not mix it. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
Pro Tip: The coffee must be cold. If you try to bloom the gelatin powder with hot coffee (or any hot liquid), it will clump and you'll have to start all over with new coffee and new gelatin powder.
Add hot coffee.
Next, pour the hot coffee into the bowl and stir. I like to use a whisk.
Add sweetened condensed milk.
Then pour in the can of sweetened condensed milk. Stir until evenly mixed.
Stir in the can of tsubushian.
Pour and set.
Pour everything into a pan. We usually use a 8x8" or 9x11" pan, but you can use any size pan available. Note: the smaller the pan, the taller your layers will be. Refrigerate the jelly overnight (or for a minimum of 8 hours) until is it fully set/firm.
Cut and enjoy.
Gently cut the jelly into squares. Serve chilled. Eat and enjoy ^_^
FAQs and Tips
Yes! We always keep instant coffee on hand at home. It has come in handy many times for this dessert.
If you want to avoid caffeine, feel free to use decaf coffee.
Never lasts more than 2-3 days in our refrigerator ^_^
Other Related Jelly Recipes
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- 4 packets unflavored gelatin powder (¼ cup gelatin powder)
- ½ cup cold coffee
- 2 ½ cups hot coffee
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
- 1 can tsubushian (mashed azuki beans) (18 ounces)
- Pour the cold coffee into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin powder over the cold coffee (do not mix), and let stand for 15 minutes.
- Then pour the hot coffee into the bowl and stir.
- Pour in the sweetened condensed milk and stir until evenly mixed.
- Stir in the can of tsubushian.
- Pour everything into a pan (we usually use a 8x8" or 9x11" pan). Refrigerate overnight till set/firm.
- Cut into squares, then eat and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Japanese Cooking Hawai'i Style by Muriel Miura.