Valentine Agar-agar

There has been a major holiday and celebration every month since November. It was all fun and good but after three months of cookies and dessert, it is time to tone down on the sweets a little. Yet, it is hard not to make something heart-shape and pretty for Valentine’s Day. I decided on a quick and easy dessert that is not overly sweet or rich.

Agar-agar is a gelatinous substance derived from red algae. It is a natural vegetarian gelatin that is white and semi-translucent. Widely used in Asia as an ingredient in desserts, agar-agar can be purchased in dried strips or powdered form. It is virtually tasteless and all kinds of flavoring can be added to it.

In Malaysia, agar-agar is very popular and many a gathering will have some form of dessert made with this ingredient. It is also a favorite at school parties as kids love agar-agar. This dessert is chilled and served cold, perfect for the hot and humid climate there.

Agar-agar can be a fun dessert to make as it can be molded to any desired shape. This time though, instead of molding it, I used colors for contrast. A colored layer was prepared and heart shapes cut out. Then a second clear layer was poured over the carefully arranged hearts to encase them in this Valentine Agar-agar creation.

Valentine Agar-agar
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12 servings
Red Layer
  • 2 cups (480ml) water
  • 1 tbsp agar-agar powder
  • ⅓ cup (75g) sugar
  • 8 drops of red food coloring
  • ⅛ tsp rose essence
Clear Layer
  • 4 cups (960ml) water
  • 2 tbsp agar-agar powder
  • ½ cup (110g) sugar
  • ¼ tsp rose essence
  1. Prepare an 8-in x 8-in pan, 7-in x 5½-in pan, and a small heart shape (or any other shape) cookie cutter.
  2. Prepare the red layer first. Bring water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Add sugar and agar-agar, stirring constantly until sugar and agar-agar dissolve, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in rose essence and red food coloring. Turn off heat. Pour agar-agar mixture into 8-in x 8-in pan. Allow agar-agar to set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  3. Unmold agar-agar and place it on a cutting board. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes.
  4. Place cut-out shapes in desired arrangement back into the 8-in x 8-in pan and the 7-in x 5½-in pan.
  5. Now, prepare the clear layer. Bring water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Add sugar and agar-agar, stirring constantly until sugar and agar-agar dissolve, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in rose essence.
  6. Pour agar-agar mixture into pans with cut-out shapes. Shapes may move about slightly. Use a fork or chopsticks to straighten the shapes if necessary. Allow agar-agar to set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  7. Unmold and cut into squares or shapes as desired. Serve cold.

You can also use a round cookie cutter to cut out round pieces instead of squares. These are really pretty but they should preferably be served on the same day they are made. Unfortunately, I found the red hearts bleeding into the clear section the next day. “Bleeding hearts”! 😉 . The taste however, is unaffected.

For more agar-agar recipes, do check out the related posts below or the pictorial Holiday and Cuisine Galleries in the drop-down menus at the header above.


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    • Biren says

      I use one tablespoon of agar-agar powder or half ounce of strips to 2 cups of water. You may use a little more or less for a firmer or softer jelly.

  1. says

    Biren….Happy Valentine’s Day and have a sweet Valentine’s Day with your loved ones :) your valentine’s agar agar looks yummy and I am sure your loved ones got the message…all your love for them ,they will cherish ! :)

    • Biren says

      I think you can use gelatine but you will have to follow the packaging instructions for the ratio of gelatine to water.

    • Biren says

      Hi! :) Have not see you for a while. I hope you are doing well. These were fun to make and yes, the boys and hubby loved them. Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

  2. says

    Biren, these look so stunning!! You are such a neat and tidy cook. I would never be able to get such perfect hearts all lined up like that. Beautiful job!! Hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! ~ Ramona

  3. DongXing says

    Hello Biren,

    I had a good giggle at your “bleeding hearts” description!!!! Bleeding or not, they look gorgeous – I would happily tucked into them. It is definitely a labour of love, my kids would be most impressed if I were to make them. Sadly, it is not going to happen, he he he.

  4. says

    Biren, these are so cute, elegant…I don’t even have the words to describe it…
    Love the pictures as always.
    Happy Valentine’s Day and have a great week :)

  5. says

    You are SO creative! These are absolutely beautiful and I’m sure delicious little jellies. I’ve seen agar agar but have never used it and honestly, didn’t know what to do with it. Now I know. Perfect, simple little sweets for that sweet bite after a meal. What a great Valentine’s Day treat!

  6. says

    Wow Biren, this is so cool! I see agar agar made by a lot of Malaysians and I’ve been curious about this dessert. It’s like glass object – looks so beautiful that heart is inside the square. Such a beautiful dessert!

  7. Angela says

    I’ve never used agar agar before. I’ll have to look for it. Have you ever tried using juice instead of water and sugar? I don’t suppose it would work for the valentine hearts because of the color of the juice.

    • Biren says

      The color of the fruit juices may not be deep enough. For a natural coloring, you may try concentrated beet or pomegranate juice.


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