Azuki Coffee Jelly


Back in fifth grade, my Japanese-American teacher gave us this recipe for a red bean coffee jelly dessert.  It’s simple, delicious, and pretty with its two contrasting layers, and we’ve continued to make it over the years.

Note on pan size: The original recipe calls for a 9″ x 11″ pan, but any pan with a similar surface area will work.  Actually, any pan will work – it will just change the thicknesses (and aesthetics) of the layers and the amount of time the dessert takes to chill and set.


Azuki Coffee Jelly
From my fifth grade teacher

Yield: 9″ x 11″ pan

  • 4 envelopes (about 4 rounded tablespoons) unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can tsubushi-an (sweetened red bean paste with beans)


  1. In a large bowl, place 1/2 cup cold water, sprinkle in gelatin, and mix well.  This step prevents lumps from forming.
  2. Stir in 2 cups boiling water.
  3. Stir in instant coffee, sweetened condensed milk, and tsubushi-an.
  4. Lightly grease a 9″ x 11″ pan (or a pan with a similar surface area) and pour in coffee-gelatin mix.  The tsubushi-an will settle to the bottom in an even layer.
  5. Cover and place in refrigerator to chill overnight, or until set.

Mochi Balls with Red Bean Filling


Unlike the mochi balls with black sesame filling and crushed peanut coating, this is a more conventional recipe with a red bean filling, which I personally prefer.  You can find cans of red bean paste in Asian supermarkets, such as Ranch 99.

To make the mochi, I use a Tatung rice cooker in which you put water in both an outer pot and an inner pot.  You can improvise this arrangement on the stove: Set a wire rack or an upside-down bowl in a large pot of water.  Place whatever ingredients you’re steaming in another bowl and set it on top of the rack or the upside-down bowl to keep it out of the water.  Cover pot with a lid and bring water to a boil.


Mochi Balls with Red Bean Filling
From the World Journal

Yield: about 24 mochi balls

  • 1 1/2 cups (2 rice cooker cups) sticky rice flour
  • 3/4 cup (1 rice cooker cup) sugar
  • 1 1/8 cup (1 1/2 rice cooker cups) water
  • 1 can red bean paste
  • Corn starch OR tapioca starch, for dusting work surface and outside of mochi balls


  1. In either the inner pot of the rice cooker or a bowl that you will steam on the stove, stir together sticky rice flour and sugar.
  2. Add water and mix well.  Make sure there are no small pockets of flour left.
  3. Steam mixture.
    • If using the rice cooker, place inner pot into the rice cooker and add 1 rice cooker cup of water to the outer pot.
    • If cooking on the stove, steam for about 30 minutes.
  4. While the mochi mixture is still hot, begin to shape the mochi balls.  Work quickly, because the mochi becomes harder to handle when it cools.
  5. Spoon out a small portion of mochi (about 2 tablespoons) and flatten it on the work surface.  Dusting it lightly with corn OR tapioca starch makes it easier to handle, but too much will make it difficult to seal the edges later.  (It’s not a very delicate recipe, so just experiment until you find an amount that works for you.)
  6. Place about 1 teaspoon of red bean paste in the center.
  7. Pinch the edges of the mochi together, pick up the ball, and roll it in the bowl of cornstarch so it’s no longer very sticky.  Don’t worry if the mochi ball sticks to the work surface and you have to scrape it off, or if the mochi stretches and breaks.  Just pinch the edges back together.
  8. Roll the mochi ball gently between your palms to make it round and set it aside on a serving platter.
  9. Cover mochi balls until ready to serve, so they don’t dry out and harden.
  10. If desired, the mochi balls can be frozen for later.

Shaved Ice


This is a tasty summer dessert that you can customize easily.  (Besides, how can you go wrong with sweetened condensed milk?)  Instead of using red beans (azuki) as a topping, you can substitute fresh mango, kiwi, or strawberry slices, watermelon chunks, canned lychee…  Anything that you think would go well with sweetened condensed milk, really!

Shaved Ice

A shaved ice machine (for example, this one)
A bowl of ice cubes
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Topping(s) of your choice (red beans, fruit,…)

1. Use the shaved ice machine to grind up as much ice as you’d like.
2. Drizzle a few spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk over the pile of ice.
3. Add toppings.
4. Eat it before it melts!