Milky Way Yokan

I love Tanabata. For those unfamiliar with it, Tanabata is a Japanese holiday where they have a star festival, celebrating all things wishes! It is held to commemorate the one day in the year(July 7th) where two lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, who were separated by the Milky Way can see each other. Tags with wishes written on them are hung off of trees or bamboo, in hopes that they come true. If you are familiar with the Pokemon, Jirachi, its design is directly inspired by Tanabata, hence why it is a star with wish tags(called tanazaku) on it. Why I love Tanabata, beyond just being able to write a wish on a tag and hang it off a tree, is the aesthetic of the holiday. Celebrating all things related to the stars and nights sky, you see so many fun space/star-themed desserts come out of it every single year! My absolute favorite, however, is the Milky Way yokan.

Yokan is a Japanese jelly that is made with agar and usually sweet bean paste. Typically red bean paste is used in yokan, but in my recipe, I went with white bean paste(shiro-an) and soy milk, just to give my yokan a stronger Milky Way-look to it. I essentially use two different kinds of yokan to create the galaxy/Milky Way aesthetic. The first is the aforementioned white bean yokan, which serves as the base for the jelly, but is also swirled throughout it to make the dessert resemble the Milky Way. The second is a mizu(water) yokan, which is a clear jelly. I made a larger batch of mizu yokan, and divided it into three batches. From there, I dyed one batch purple with purple yam powder, and another batch blue with butterfly pea powder. I left one clear, since that one will allow for more light to flow through the jelly. I also swirled edible star glitter into the jelly as well, just to really reinforce that cosmic look. What I love about this yokan is that it is relatively simple to make, is 100% naturally colored, and it does depict the very Milky Way that Tanabata stems from!

Makes about 8 servings:
For the mizu yokan:
3/4 cups water
16g agar powder
1 1/2 tbsps granulated sugar
1/2 tsp butterfly pea powder
1/2 tsp purple yam powder
Edible glitter sprinkles

In a pot, bring water, agar, and sugar to a simmer. Once everything is dissolved into the water, take off heat and divide the water into three bowls. Add butterfly pea powder into one bowl and purple yam powder into another and stir those in to dye the liquid in one of the bowls blue and the other purple. 

For the shiro yokan:
12g agar powder
3oz soy milk
1 tbsp granulated sugar
75g white bean paste

In a pot, heat up all of the ingredients on high heat until everything is dissolved and slightly reduced – you want the mixture to be the consistency of unwhipped heavy cream! Take off heat and allow the mixture to cool down slightly.

Should any of the yokan bases solidify before assembly, just microwave them for 45 seconds, which will re-melt them!

To assemble:
Divide your clear mixture from the mizu yokan into silicone molds. Then sprinkle in your edible glitter. Pour in about 1/3 of the blue and 1/3 of the purple mixtures. Then drip in a little of the shiro yokan mixture. Then pour on top of that the rest of the blue and purple mizu yokan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Then lightly scrape the tops of the set yokan with a fork(it is important to do this step as it allows the last layer of shiro yokan to stick!), and pour the rest of the shiro yokan on top. Transfer back to the refrigerator and allow the yokan to set for another hour at the minimum before flipping out of the molds.

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