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Azuki Coffee Jelly

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 so beautiful and delicious!

Azuki Coffee Jelly, two pieces on a plate.
Azuki Coffee Jelly, ready to eat ^_^

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?

A can of tsubushi (mashed azuki beans) used to make Azuki Coffee Jelly.
A can of tsubushian.

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.

Ingredients for making Azuki Coffee Jelly on a counter (gelatin, tsubushian, coffee, and sweetened condensed milk).
Ingredients for Azuki Coffee Jelly.

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make Azuki Coffee Jelly:

Now let’s get cooking!

Mixing together ingredients for Azuki Coffee Jelly.
Mixing together ingredients for Azuki Coffee Jelly.

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.

Add tsubushian.
Stir in the can of tsubushian.

Letting the Azuki Coffee Jelly set in the refirgerator.
Setting the Azuki Coffee Jelly in the refrigerator overnight.

Pour and set.
Pour everything into a pan. We usually use a 8×8″ or 9×11″ 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.

A set pan of Azuki Coffee Jelly, ready to be sliced and eaten.
Azuki Coffee Jelly, set and ready to be cut and served chilled.

Cut and enjoy.
Gently cut the jelly into squares. Serve chilled. Eat and enjoy ^_^

Azuki Coffee Jelly, an overhead photo of one piece on a plate.
Azuki Coffee Jelly, look at the layers!

FAQs and Tips

Love coffee?

Make sure to try our recipe for classic Coffee Jelly! It’s super good with whipped cream.

Love jelly desserts?

So do we. We have many onolicious jelly recipes on the blog! Some of the desserts made with gelatin and some are made with agar agar (which is one of my all time favorite ingredients to work with). Make sure to try them all:
Sparkling Strawberry Agar Agar
Osmanthus and Goji Agar Agar
Almond Tofu
Strawberry-Haupia Agar Agar
Haupia
Coffee Jelly
Grass Jelly

Can I used instant coffee?

Yes! We always keep instant coffee on hand at home. It has come in handy many times for this dessert.

No caffeine?

If you want to avoid caffeine, feel free to use decaf coffee.

How long does this keep?

Never lasts more than 2-3 days in our refrigerator ^_^

Azuki Coffee Jelly, two pieces on a plate.
Azuki Coffee Jelly, ready to eat.

Azuki Coffee Jelly Recipe

See below and enjoy ^_^

Azuki Coffee Jelly, two pieces on a plate.

Azuki Coffee Jelly

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 35 minutes

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 dessert uses pantry ingredients for contrasting layers of azuki beans, coffee, and sweetened condensed milk jelly. It is so beautiful and delicious!

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Then pour the hot coffee into the bowl and stir.
  3. Pour in the sweetened condensed milk and stir until evenly mixed.
  4. Stir in the can of tsubushian.
  5. Pour everything into a pan (we usually use a 8x8" or 9x11" pan). Refrigerate overnight till set/firm.
  6. Cut into squares, then eat and enjoy!

Notes

Recipe adapted from Japanese Cooking Hawai'i Style by Muriel Miura.

Alan

Tuesday 20th of September 2022

Looks great and I bet it tastes good. I never made it, but my late aunts used to make this all the time. I remember vividly eating these desserts when I went over to their homes in decades gone past. I always thought they made it with kanten, not Knox gelatin.....now I know.

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