Light Coconut Agar Cream with Pear and Lime Zest


The last couple of days have been so warm and sunny, I don’t even care if they announce snow for next week. Spring is in the air and nothing will change it. The spring evoking exquisite, bright green matcha latte posted by Kelly (from Inspired Edibles) has inspired me to begin the season of refreshing, light desserts. I found some dying pears at the bottom of my fridge and instead of a cake or tart, I decided to incorporate them into the easiest and quickest light dessert I know.

Some of you might remember my discovery of a wobbly, creamy dessert based on two milks (coconut and cow milk) and agar. This discovery has changed into a real addiction and I must have already prepared dozens of batches. The basic mixture is extremely versatile, sets quickly (agar sets at room temperature) and, since I put a tiny amount of sugar or sometimes even only sweetener, it’s one of the lightest desserts I know. I have already experimented many different versions, such as chocolate, coffee or matcha (see below). Even though agar is a jelling agent, I use it in scarce amounts and obtain a slightly wobbly, “falling off the spoon” consistency, rather than a well-set jelly, hence the name “cream”.

My first plan was to cut up the pears and simply pour the cream over them (just like I did with canned peaches here). It seemed however a bit boring (especially visually), so I decided to grate some lime zest on top for decoration and… it was a revelation! As silly as it may sound, it was the first time I have combined pear with lime zest and I found it extraordinary. The mellow, “flat” sweetness of the pear and coconut suddenly becomes exciting with the tangy, refreshing and slightly bitter zest. I am very tempted to explore further this surprising combination, at least until summer fruits appear.

As a reminder, agar (“kanten” in Japanese) is a gelatinous substance obtained from certain seaweed varieties, usually sold powdered or (in Asian countries) in long sticks. Look for it in Asian grocery shops or in organic (health-food) shops or… in normal supermarkets (they sell it in my Swiss supermarkets). Even though some people say agar-agar is a gelatin equivalent, I cannot agree with it. The way it sets food is different from the gelatin I have been using for years and, if you buy it powdered, only a tiny amount is required. When used in scarce amounts, agar yields a creamy, wobbly, delicate result, but when a big amount is used, it sets the food stronger than gelatin, so it’s a bit tricky when used for the first time.

If you feel like experimenting with agar, here are some ideas you might like:


Wobbly Rhubarb Delight


Light Chocolate and Coconut Cream


Matcha and Coconut Cream with Agar


Light Coconut Cream with Canned Peaches


Coffee and Coconut Cream with Agar

TIPS: Look closely at your agar package instructions. On mine 1/2 teaspoon is said to set 500 ml/2 cups liquid to a jelly. I use only 1/3 teaspoon and obtain a wobbly, “falling off the spoon” consistency. If you prefer a well-set jelly, use the amount advised on the package.

Do not wait until the cream becomes cold before pouring it into the bowls because agar sets at room temperature and once disturbed, it will not reset properly!

Preparation: 15 minutes + 2-3 hours in the fridge

Ingredients (serves 4 – 5):

250 ml coconut milk

250 ml cow milk 

4 flat tablespoons sugar (or less, if, like me you prefer moderately sweet desserts; I have put only 2 tablespoons)

1/3 flat teaspoon agar agar in powder 

3 medium pears

2 – 3 limes 

Dissolve the sugar and agar-agar in the mixture of the two milks. Bring to boil and, constantly stirring, let it simmer for about a minute.

Put aside.

Prepare four individual bowls or low glasses.

Peel the pears and cut them up into cubes.

Distribute them equally into the bowls. (Do not wait until the cream becomes cold because agar sets at room temperature and once disturbed, it will not reset properly).

Pour the milks’ mixture into the bowls and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Serve very cold decorated with grated lime zest (you can also incorporate it into the dessert, before it sets, but it won’t have the same freshness).

35 Replies to “Light Coconut Agar Cream with Pear and Lime Zest”

  1. The only jiggly type dessert I make is the commercial Jello (flan and panna cotta are more set up in my versions) and I do that when I’m desperate for something sweet but non-fat which is a very rare event. Agar based desserts seem pretty exotic in that context. Maybe one day … 🙂

    1. I’m usually not a big fan of well set jelly, so I never really make it. You should try agar one day (but use less than advised on the package).The consistency is surprisingly delicate. It’s easier to use than gelatin in my opinion too.

  2. Sissi, we have been having Spring like weather the most of Winter, which means we get to be outdoors a lot, though the bugs never really left…

    This dessert looks incredible! I have never worked with agar individually, maybe growing up, watching my Mom use it and thinking it looks somewhat complicated has kept me away. After looking at all the yummy recipes you posted here, I will have to remember to get some at the Asian market and experiment with it!

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you so much, Jeno. I wish I lived in a warmer climate… I wouldn’t even mind the bugs (I would probably try to kill them all the time though 😉 ). Agar is easier to use than gelatin once you have started, but it’s easy to overdose. Have a great weekend too!

  3. Sissi, I love pear. I love coconut. I love lime. What a great combination! Seems like a lovely refreshing dessert. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you very much, Azusa. I was also surprised how good was this simple combination. The dessert is very delicate if agar is used moderately. I hope you will try it one day.

  4. This looks exquisitely delicate, sumptuous and yes, spring delightful! I’m so pleased I could act as even the smallest inspiration for this beautiful dessert Sissi – thank you for that! :). I delight in the combination of coconut and lime but adding pear to the mix is a new twist and I think I would love it! I always tend to defer to gelatin for gelling but I should sniff around for your agar and give it a try. This is just so pretty and sophisticated at the same time Sissi. And, though you can see me, I am licking my lips in anticipation of this lovely dessert ;-).

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. I’m glad you like my recent discovery. Coconut and lime is quite obvious, but I was really surprised at the lime zest and pear’s combination. I hope you can try agar one day. It’s a very interesting discovery (though keep in mind that it’s very easy to overdose and obtain a very hard jelly).

  5. What a beautiful and light dessert. Yes, the lime zest really brightens up this dessert and feel just like Spring. 🙂 Oh…I can’t wait to try the rest of your Agar desserts. They all look and sound wonderful. 🙂 Wish you a wonderful weekend.

  6. It really is a lovely and light dessert Sissi, and to add the lime zest would just elevate it for me, making it so fresh. The photo is quite lovely too, so moody with the black, I just love it. Pear and coconut is a very nice combination too, setting the lovely tone for spring. I too am anxious to get winter over with and some lovely warm days and nights. Our temperatures are heading into the pluses, thank goodness and by Sunday they are predicting 8-10°C! I’m very excited to finally open the windows and get some lovely fresh air into the house but even more excited to get my bicycle out and spruced up so I can finally start riding into work (a very lovely 8km ride though a beautiful park and down by our lakeshore!). Hope you have a lovely weekend.

    1. Thank you very much, Eva. I think you would like either of the agar desserts. They are so light… and can be made even lighter if you use a bit more cow milk and less coconut milk (my test with 100% low-fat milk was a failure though; I suppose some creaminess and fat are obligatory). I make always the whole batch for myself (my husband is not a big fan) and keep it in the fridge for a whole week. This way I always have a healthy, low-calorie dessert at hand. Let’s cross our fingers! We have had a warm week but they announce snow on Tuesday… I hope they are wrong. Have a lovely weekend too.

    1. Thank you so much, Shuhan. I’m so happy you like the chocolate cream (it is my favourite too! I even have now several portions of it in the fridge). I think there is no ending of the possible versions of the coconut and cow milks’ mixture… Only the fruits which stop jellies from setting cannot be used (kiwi, pineapple and maybe something else?). Thanks you so much for using the word “pudding”. I forget it all the time.

  7. Agar-agar is really fantastic. Must prepare something tomorrow, sadly there is no coconut milk left and looking at the pictures I cannot wait until my rhubarb will grow. But spring is still far away. We even received some weather warnings. Today it was freezing rain (the trees looked really beautiful covered by frozen raindrops but dangerous conditions on the roads), the next days lots of snow and blizzards?!

    1. Thank you, Kiki. They have announced snow for Tuesday here… and I was already convinced the cold days were over. Rhubarb starts appearing here, but I suppose it’s from greenhouses.

  8. I adore pear desserts, but I certainly would eat any of your marvelous agar creations!!! ALL so beautiful!

  9. What a delicious and light little cream! I have to thank you for turning me on to agar! I’ve used in a few times and it’s great stuff. I put it in a sherbet the other day and it gave it a nice texture. I can see your two milk cream being used with pears, apples, and an assortment of berries as well. Thanks again for another great treat!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. I’m thrilled to learn you have been converted to agar too! This mixture is very versatile, so I’m only waiting for a bigger choice of fruit…

  10. “Dying pears” – lol, that made me chuckle :D.

    I glanced at the weather widget on my phone today and was shocked… Snow on Wednesday with temperatures of -5?? “What?” I audibly exclaimed! It changed later to something more… “clement”, but I couldn’t believe it. Today was a gorgeous day… almost shorts and t-shirt weather (well, maybe that’s going a bit far) but lovely nonetheless.

    Sissi, this looks like a lovely dessert – great inspiration from Kelly’s creation. I have it open in another tab right now and was “mmmm”-ing at it when it loaded :). The perfect thing for these warm spring days, even we still may get surprised with some bad weather. The lime is a lovely touch, both in terms of the zing it must lend, and with the lovely little flash of green it gives.

    1. Thanks a lot, Charles. I always stock on too many vegetables and fruits and then I forget them… so I often see them on the brink of death 😉
      We have similar forecast, alas, but this dessert was perfect for this week’s warm weather.

    1. Thanks a lot, Mr. Three-Cookies. If it’s cold, I will simply try to convince myself it’s warm 😉

  11. Sissi your recipe with the peaches I make very often. Recently my friend asked me what I would suggest for dessert for a fancy dinner party she was planning and I gave her your recipe. She was delighted how easy and delicious it was.

    I never thought of replacing the peaches, because I love the combination so much, but now I can see pear would be lovely too. I would serve it with a thin drizzle of caramel sauce. This is a totally refreshing and delicious treat.

    1. Thank you so much, Zsuzsa. I had no idea you made the peach agar cream. You have made me very happy 🙂 I also love canned peaches. It’s one of the rare canned fruits I love. Caramel sauce would make this humble dessert exquisite. Great idea!

    1. Dear Robert-Gilles, thank you so much for the compliments (although I still have a long way to go with my photos…). I had no idea about Shizuoka and agar, but since everything is produced in your region, I shouldn’t be surprised…

      1. LOL
        I’ve seriously tried to find out what is not produced or at least succeeded and I’m still stumped!
        Avocado, cacao, dragon fruit, bananas I have already found! And even coffee! I heard someone is growing olives and what else!

  12. I love wobbly desserts to enjoy in the afternoon or after dinner. Great recipe Sissi, I like how light is it, a dessert without any guilt! 🙂
    p.s. watch your words about the snow, last week here was also sunny +15, but today it’s -4 and snowing…

    1. Thank you very much, Gourmantine. It’s such a pleasure to have a light dessert without asking oneself if one can “afford” it… It’s now snowing here too! Luckily, I haven’t planted herbs on my balcony yet.

  13. You are so good at making easy, beautiful, and delicious dessert! I’m still working on kanten. Last time I failed a bit so I haven’t got back to it yet. I think “experimenting dessert” is probably not a good thing for me yet! I was too greedy! I need to come back and follow your directions to make one of these!

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. This is very simple indeed as long as you master the use of kanten. It’s very easy to overdose and obtain a very hard jelly, this is why I also had had lots of bad experiments before I managed to use it correctly (do not follow the instructions on the package! they are given for those who want to obtain a jelly, so I have mentioned above, instead of 1/2 teaspoon, use just 1/3 teaspoon to obtain a creamy wobbly effect). You have to persevere! If you make one dessert right, then it will seem childishly easy. I was given this basic recipe by a friend who hardly ever cooks, so I told myself: if she can do it, why not me? And the biggest advantage is such a dessert is practically guiltless! You can have a small portion every day without worrying about the calories etc..

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