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The Best Coffee Jelly Recipe

coffee jelly

Chances are that when you think about coffee you think of it as a drink, a beverage. At most, as a nice ice cream for the hot days. Most definitely coffee is something that is served in a glass or mug to drink, hot or cold. The largest use of the coffee beans by far is in brewing it and serving it to sip, for energy or just enjoyment of its taste.

It has not only such an use, of course. Ice creams, syrups to top desserts, cookies, cakes and what not have been made with coffee. A versatile drink, coffee has been morphed into most forms and shapes. Including jelly.

Yes, coffee jelly is a thing as well. A gelatin-based dessert to be enjoyed at the end of your meal, coffee jelly is available most anywhere these days, and it is super easy to make your own, if you are so inclined or can’t find it yet. But let’s first see where it comes from and how it became popular.

Origin

Coffee jelly is a quite old recipe, appearing in cookbooks in English-speaking countries already in 1817. It was advertised as a healthier alternative to normally brewed coffee, as the gelatin was thought of absorbing the acidity of coffee and making it easier on the stomach. 

It fell out of use in European and North American cuisines at the beginning of the last century, when it was picked up in Japanese cuisine instead.

From there it especially gained popularity in the 1960s after a branch of a Japanese coffee house made their version. It was a great success. Since then, it was common to have a coffee jelly or two at the end of a typical Japanese meal.

Slowly it became popular again in its original countries and it is now known throughout the world as a sweet coffee-based dessert. It may not be common everywhere, but it is definitely facing a resurgence.

Recipe

One of the key points of a coffee jelly is that it is easy to make. The other is that it is far from being too sweet, one of its characteristics is indeed that it is only lightly sweet, not covering the coffee flavor and instead accompanying it. The list of ingredients to make coffee jelly is quite concise:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups coffee
  • 2 tbsp sugar (feel free to tweak the amount of sugar to your liking)
  • 1 tbsp gelatin powder
  • 4 tbsp water
  • half and half, flavored creamer, or whipped cream (this is optional)

Equipment

  • a glass
  • a saucepan
  • bowl(s) or a shallow pan

Steps

  • First, combine the brewed coffee of your choice with the sugar in the saucepan. Mix them well.
  • Turn on the heat and wait until the mixture is nearly at the boiling point. Turn off the heat, don’t make it boil.
  • In a separate glass combine gelatin and water. Stir thoroughly.
  • Then add the gelatin mixture to the saucepan and stir until fully dissolved.
  • Let cool.
  • Pour the cooled down jelly into a few bowls or a shallow saucepan.
  • Put it into the refrigerator and let it fully set. It will usually take a few hours, depending on the type of gelatin and the temperature of the refrigerator.
  • Once it has solidified, the coffee jelly is ready.

Serving

The easiest way to serve coffee jelly, and surely the first time you make it the best one to taste the results, is to just eat it with a spoon when it’s cold, out of the refrigerator. In its undiluted form you can enjoy the full taste of it and know if you want to make adjustments next time you prepare it. But of course it is not the only way to eat coffee jelly.

Easier to weigh is to cut the coffee jelly in small cubes with a sharp knife. It not only makes it more comfortable to eat, but it looks nicer and can more quickly be added as a topping to a dessert or a drink.

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Speaking of drinks, coffee jelly is popular to be added to a cup of cold milk to give it a “cold latte” flavor without adding too much coffee (and thus caffeine) nor sweetness. 

Spicing your cold milk this way is not only tasty but definitely gives a new consistency to it. For a richer experience, heavy cream or condensed milk with coffee jelly is an awesome treat to have.

If you are into strong coffee, you may simply add a few cubes of coffee jelly to your coffee. Usually cold. Coffee jelly will substitute any sweetener that you ordinarily use for your coffee, like sugar or syrups, and add more coffee flavor. 

Experiment making a coffee jelly with a sweet coffee and adding it to a more intense or bitter brewed cup of coffee: you can easily create blends of coffee this way!

Coffee jelly being primarily a dessert can either accompany many sweet preparations or substitute them. For instance, a few cubes of coffee jelly mixed with your vanilla, chocolate or nuts-based ice cream make for a flavorful addition. 

Scoop it along with the ice cream, in a single gesture, and have it so enhance the flavor of a nice gelato.

Coffee jelly is a superb substitute for a coffee cream or sauce. It can be added to any cake that calls for coffee or chocolate taste: just add it along with the sauce/cream that is in the original recipe and have it work its magic in making it a more coffee-flavored cake. Or simply sprinkle small pieces of coffee jelly over whipped cream and eat it as it is.

 Anywhere you may think that a sweet coffee flavor can work, coffee jelly can be used.

Storing/Shelf Life

Contrary to what some think, jelly-like foods don’t last for a long time. It is advisable to keep your coffee jelly in an airtight container in the refrigerator, already cut, and consume it within 2-3 days. It should be safe to eat it for a while longer but the gelatin in it may have started to deteriorate.

Make enough coffee jelly that you can eat it all in a couple of days only, so nothing will go to waste.

Tips and Tricks

The recipe for a coffee jelly we gave earlier is the base. It doesn’t include much in specific ingredients or how to make them. It is a starting point to explore your own recipe for a coffee jelly, making it as you personally prefer. A few tips and tricks can be given though, to better orient yourself.

The coffee you use to make coffee jelly is obviously a vital ingredient. The most important thing is to have a coffee that you truly like. Strong coffee that is not very acidic nor fruity works best as a coffee jelly, as the gelatin doesn’t pair well with high acidity. 

A medium-dark roasted coffee of your liking will most definitely make good coffee jelly. If you can, try to brew it as an espresso as the crema and consistency it can donate to the coffee jellies is unparalleled.

Sugar should ideally be kept at a moderate amount. Coffee jelly is thought to be consumed with other sweet ingredients like milk, cream, cakes and so on. An overtly sweet coffee jelly may overpower your sweet tooth. Unless you want it truly sweet, a couple of tablespoons of sugar should suffice.

For vegetarians worried about the use of gelatin, there’s no need to renounce coffee jelly: it can be easily made with agar-agar.

Conclusion

Coffee jelly is an old recipe that is justly making a comeback. It is easy to make at home, to enjoy and to combine with lots of other ingredients to tweak their initial taste and enhance them. 

It is definitely a sweet food in itself but it can be used as a sweetener in an otherwise not sweet recipe. Coffee jelly is super versatile, making it ideal to add some sweetness and coffee flavors to any recipe that you can think of.

You can easily find it in a nearby restaurant or convenience store but if you can’t, the recipe to make it is as easy as it gets. Go try it yourself and rediscover this ancient way to enjoy coffee.