If you liked my other neri yokan recipes, you'll love this new CAKE variation that is layered with ladyfingers! Gluten-free and vegan, these delicious neri yokan cakes have a thick and fudgy sweetened red bean paste layer with delicious cake sheets in between.
What is Neri Yokan?
Slick and shiny, Neri yokan (also called by many names, such as Red Bean Jelly or Red Bean Cake outside Japan) is a jelly-like treat that's made using sweetened bean paste and agar agar, a plant-based alternative to gelatin that's frequently used in Asian cuisines. What I love the best about neri yokan is its texture. It's fun, not so much like jelly or jello, but thick, dense with a firm bite and fudgy mouthfeel.
Ingredients Used to Make This
**I've linked some of these ingredients to amazon.com to give you an idea of what they are, but you should also be able to find them in your local grocery store (usually, the natural & organic food section). They are also affiliate links, which means that I earn a commission as an Amazon Associate if you decide to purchase the items. The price will be the same for you, link or no link 🙂
- Sweetened Red Bean Paste (a.k.a. Koshi An): I eat this stuff by spoonfuls! It's a versatile ingredient that goes inside my sweet rice mochi recipe as well my tofu mochi recipe, but it's also used as fillings inside sweet breads, pancakes, cookies and more. You can find Sweetened Red Bean paste in most Asian grocery stores, and online (Amazon). There are Fine and Coarse kinds (I used coarse).
- Sweetened White Bean Paste (a.k.a. Shiro An) - the white bean version of the sweetened red bean paste.
- Agar Agar Powder (also called Agar Powder) - a gelatinous substance that's derived from seasweeds and commonly used in Asian cuisines. It's also becoming more popular as a plant-based alternative to gelatin. Agar Agar is sold in the form of flakes, powders, bars or strands, but I used the powder form as I think it gives me the most consistent results. I used the agar powder from NOW Foods (below), which is in Amazon (here) and also stocked in the grocery store near where I live.
- Corn Syrup or Honey - Maple syrup and agave syrup works, but they don't produce the thick, fudgy mouthfeel of neri-yokan as the ones made with corn syrup or honey.
- Ladyfingers - I used storebought. You can buy gluten-free ladyfingers online, here
More Recipes Using Bean Paste HERE
How to Make Neri Yokan Cake
Neri Yokan Cake with Ladyfingers
Stir agar powder in water and let sit for at least 5 minutes at room temperature.
After 5 minutes, heat the water-agar mixture on medium-high heat, until it becomes thick and bubbly.
Stir in the white sugar and corn syrup and boil for another minute.
Lower the heat to low-medium, then add in the bean paste.
Heat the mixture over low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly.
Pour ⅓ of the mixture into a clean pyrex glass or silicone pan. Press a layer of ladyfingers cake on top.
Pour another ⅓ of the mixture on top of the cake, then place another layer of ladyfingers cake on top, then pour the rest of the yokan mixture on top.
Set aside and let cool for about 2-3 hours in the fridge until the middle is completely set.
Cut into bite sized blocks. Enjoy!
Recipe Variations and Optional Add Ins:
- You don’t have to keep this plain. Add some nuts, dried fruits or flavoring/extracts to keep this yokan interesting.
- You can also pour the yokan mixture into silicone molds.
- The cake will tend to float to the top of the liquid yokan mixture as it cools. To solve this problem, you can place a waxed parchment paper on top, then place a heavy spatula or some sort of weight on top to keep the cake layer level with the liquid.
- Another option is to leave some liquid yokan mixture in the pan, reheat over low heat, then pour on top of the cake once it has set as shown on the second photo.
How to Store
- You can store these yokan covered at room temperature for up to 24 hours. For longer storage, you can place them in a plastic ziploc bag or airtight container to store in the fridge for up to 7 days, or freeze up to 4 weeks.
More Yokan Recipes You'll Love
Neri Yokan Cake with Ladyfingers
- Stir agar powder in water and let sit for at least 5 minutes at room temperature.
- Heat the water-agar mixture on medium-high heat, until it becomes thick and bubbly.
- Stir in the white sugar and corn syrup and boil for another minute.
- Lower the heat to low-medium, then add in the bean paste.
- Heat the mixture over low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Pour ⅓ of the mixture into a clean pyrex glass or silicone pan. Press a layer of ladyfingers cake on top.
- Pour another ⅓ of the mixture on top of the cake, then place another layer of ladyfingers cake on top, then pour the rest of the yokan mixture on top.
- Set aside and let cool for about 2-3 hours in the fridge until the middle is completely set ***READ NOTE***
- Cut into bite sized blocks. Enjoy!
Another option is to leave some liquid yokan mixture in the pan, reheat over low heat, then pour on top of the cake once it has set