Chè Ba Màu (Vietnamese Three Color Dessert)

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Chè Ba Màu, or Vietnamese Three Color dessert, is an easy, delicious, and refreshing dessert that’s reminiscent of Filipino halo-halo. It typically consists of three layers of tri-colored ingredients of red beans, a sweetened mung bean paste, and chewy pandan jelly in a glass before being topped with shaved ice and a creamy coconut sauce.

Three dessert glass cups of che ba mau topped with coconut cream sauce and crushed ice.

Looking for more Vietnamese desserts? Check out this refreshing Vietnamese fruit cocktail dessert (Che Thai) or the creamy coconut banana pudding (Che Chuoi).

What is Che Ba Mau?

Chè ba màu, also known as three-color dessert or rainbow dessert, is a popular Vietnamese dessert. “Chè” refers to a category of sweet soups or beverages in Vietnamese cuisine, and “ba màu” means three colors in Vietnamese.

Che ba mau typically consists of three layers of different colored components. The base is usually made with red beans are often cooked with sugar until they become soft and slightly mashed. The next layer consists of cooked mung beans, which are sweetened with sugar. The mung bean layer is then topped with a layer of bouncy pandan jelly and a layer of coconut milk or coconut cream.

The dessert is typically served cold in a glass or bowl, allowing the vibrant colors of the three layers to be visible. It is a refreshing and sweet treat that is enjoyed throughout the year, particularly during hot weather in Vietnam.

Che ba mau can be found in Vietnamese restaurants or dessert shops worldwide, as Vietnamese cuisine has gained popularity globally. It is a refreshing dessert for those who enjoy the combination of different flavors and textures in a single dish.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Ingredients needed for che ba mau: azuki red beans, split mung beans, water, agar agar powder, pandan flavoring, sugar, salt, and coconut cream.

All of these ingredients can be found at your local Asian grocery store, if it has a good international aisle, or online.

The red layer consists of red beans such as adzuki, red beans, or kidney beans. To save some time, you can use adzuki canned beans or sweetened red bean paste, which doesn’t require any cooking.

The yellow layer consists of a sweetened mung bean paste made of dried split mung beans and sugar.

The green layer consists of pandan jelly made from agar agar powder, pandan extract, sugar, and water. You can also use an agar agar substitute, such as gelatin. If you do not want to make pandan jelly from scratch, substitute it with canned ai yu jelly, grass jelly, or cendol (banh lot).

All of this is topped with a coconut sauce and crushed ice. The coconut sauce is made of coconut cream (full-fat coconut milk) and sugar and thickened with tapioca starch. Sometimes, you’ll see tapioca starch labeled as tapioca flour. It’s essentially the same thing, but different brands label their products differently.

Please scroll ⬇️ to the recipe card to see the full ingredient amounts and instructions.

Make and Assemble Che Ba Mau

RED ADZUKI BEANS

  1. Soak the adzuki beans in water overnight.
  2. Drain the beans. In a small saucepan, bring 3 inches of water to a boil, add beans, and cook for 18-20 minutes, or until softened.
  3. Drain the water and add sugar.

GREEN PANDAN JELLY

  1. Bring water to a boil. Add agar agar powder. Stir in pandan extract and sugar until dissolved.
  2. Pour into a 4×4 glass dish and let it cool at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or freeze for 2 hours).
  3. Slice into thin strips or cubes.

YELLOW MUNG BEANS

  1. Add the mung beans and water to a small saucepan. Turn the heat on to medium-high and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-12 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add more water if needed. The consistency should be a smooth paste. Mix in sugar.

COCONUT SAUCE

  1. Heat coconut cream until it starts to boil. Whisk in sugar and tapioca starch. Simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce has thickened.
  2. Remove from heat. Let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to use.

ASSEMBLE THE CHE BA MAU

Cutting board with pandan jelly and bowls of cooked red beans, mashed mung beans, and thinly sliced pandan jelly.
  1. In a cup, layer red beans, mung beans, and pandan jelly. Drizzle coconut sauce over the top.
  2. Top with crushed ice and serve.
Three dessert glass cups of che ba mau topped with coconut cream sauce and crushed ice.

Tips for Success

Plan ahead of time: this dessert is simple to make, but it does require some prep work, such as soaking the adzuki beans overnight and letting the pandan jelly set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. It is best to start the day before.
Let the ingredients cool completely: this is a cold dessert. Let the beans and coconut sauce cool in the fridge for a few hours before assembling.
Assemble right before eating: pour the coconut sauce in right before serving to preserve the freshness of this dessert.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Three dessert glass cups of che ba mau topped with crushed ice and coconut cream sauce dripping down the glass.
What is Che Ba Mau made of?

Che ba mau, or Vietnamese three color dessert, is made with ingredients that create distinct layers and flavors. The main components of che ba mau include sweetened mung bean paste, sweet red beans, chewy pandan jelly, and a creamy coconut sauce.

How to store leftovers

To store leftover che ba mau, it is important to refrigerate it to maintain its freshness and prevent spoilage. Here are the steps to store leftover che ba mau:

  • Allow the che ba mau to cool down to room temperature before storing it. This will prevent condensation from forming inside the storage container.
  • Transfer the leftover che ba mau to an airtight container. Glass or plastic containers with lids work well for this purpose.
  • If possible, keep the coconut sauce and che ba mau ingredients separately. This will help it stay fresh longer.
  • Place the container in the refrigerator. Che ba mau can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
  • When ready to enjoy the leftover che ba mau, simply remove it from the refrigerator, pour on the coconut sauce, and serve chilled or topped with shaved ice.

It’s important to note that it is best consumed fresh, as the texture and taste may change slightly after refrigeration. If it becomes too soft or loses its distinct layers, it may not be as visually appealing, but it can still be enjoyed for its flavors.

RECIPE

Three dessert glass cups of che ba mau topped with coconut cream sauce and crushed ice.

Chè Ba Màu (Vietnamese Three Color Dessert)

Quynh Nguyen
Chè Ba Màu is an easy and delicious Vietnamese Three Color dessert that consists of three layers of ingredients in a glass before being topped with shaved ice and a creamy coconut sauce.
5 from 56 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Resting Time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 8 servings
Calories 159 kcal

Ingredients
  

Red Bean Layer

Yellow Mung Bean Layer

Green Pandan Jelly Layer

Coconut Sauce

Topping

  • shaved ice

Instructions
 

Adzuki Beans

  • Soak the adzuki beans in water overnight.
  • Drain the beans. In a small saucepan, bring 3 inches of water to a boil, add beans, and cook for 18-20 minutes, or until softened.
  • Drain the water and add sugar.

Pandan Jelly

  • Bring water to a boil. Add agar agar powder. Stir in pandan extract and sugar until dissolved.
  • Pour into a 4×4 glass dish and let it cool at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or freeze for 2 hours).
  • Slice into thin strips or cubes.

Mung Beans

  • In a small saucepan, add mung beans and water. Turn the heat on to medium-high and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until softened.
  • Add more water, if needed. The consistency should be a smooth paste. Mix in sugar.

Coconut Sauce

  • Heat coconut cream until it starts to boil. Whisk in sugar and tapioca starch. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Remove from heat. Let it cool to room temperature and put in the fridge until ready to use.

Assemble the Che Ba Mau

  • Layer in red beans, mung bean, and pandan jelly to a cup. Drizzle coconut sauce over the top.
  • Top with crushed ice and serve.

Notes

    • Plan ahead of time: this dessert is simple to make but it does require some prep work such as soaking the adzuki beans overnight and letting the pandan jelly set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. It is best to start the day before.
    • Assemble right before eating: pour the coconut sauce in right before serving to preserve the freshness of this dessert.

Nutrition

Calories: 159kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 7gFat: 0.3gSaturated Fat: 0.05gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.01gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.004gSodium: 87mgPotassium: 161mgFiber: 4gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 35IUVitamin C: 0.004mgCalcium: 22mgIron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I will make this recipe very soon – I just love Che Ba Mau. I love the way you put together your recipe, you’re very organized and your instructions are well written, and easy to follow. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes. I will search your website for Cendol recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    We love trying new recipes and this one was fantastic! It did take a bit of planning, but it was well worth it – everybody really enjoyed it.

  3. 5 stars
    This was such an interesting dessert. I love to try out different desserts from different cuisines and I loved it. Thanks