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January 26, 2013 9:50 PM   Subscribe

I ate some sort of multi-layered, rainbow Jell-O-like snack once. What was it? Where can I find it in Boston or NYC?

My friend's Vietnamese parents bought them at an Asian grocery store in Arizona. They came in generic plastic containers, as if the store made them, with several "cakes" per container. The cakes were small, multi-layered, and rainbow, with tapered bottoms and fluted edges. You could eat them with your hands, and they were kept cold.

Any ideas as to what they are/were? They were amazing.
posted by topoisomerase to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Was it rau cau?
posted by jamaro at 9:57 PM on January 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Try searching for desserts made with agar agar (similar to gelatin). Agar agar is traditionally used in many Asian desserts.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:00 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's probably not exactly what you ate then, but if you want to make something similar, try "finger jello".
posted by lollusc at 10:34 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

It sounds a lot like kuih lapis sagu, which is a muticoloured, steamed dessert made of rice flour ( and/or sometimes tapioca), delicious pandan, and coconut milk. It can be made bite-sized in the designs you've described or as large as a birthday cake! I understand there are variations of these (even savoury kinds) throughout Southeast Asia so I can't pinpoint which type of kuih you had though. But what a sweet mystery... I think I have to pick up some pandan tomorrow.
posted by mayurasana at 12:47 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had something similar to what you describe and it was a variation of the rice flour dessert mayurasana is describing. Here's a photo of mine.
posted by shelleycat at 2:50 AM on January 27, 2013

Could it have been Jell-O 1-2-3?

Apparently Kraft discontinued it in 1996, however Dr. Oetker makes a similar product called Trio Treat, or you can try a homemade version.
posted by fairmettle at 7:32 AM on January 27, 2013

If not for the "homemade" part of your question, I would think this was some variety of konjac jelly.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 12:40 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think it was rau cau, since the "cakes" looked molded the way Jell-O sometimes is, rather than cut like a steamed dessert (I'm probably using the term "cake" incorrectly - what I meant was that they were like these molded masses that were sort of snack cake sized. They weren't actually cake). I know it wasn't regular American Jell-O.

The kuih lapis sagu looks amazing, though.

Now to find some agar-agar and pandan extract. Thanks, all!
posted by topoisomerase at 1:40 PM on February 5, 2013

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