Cathedral Window Bars Recipe

cathedral windows recipe using gulaman or agar agar seaweed gelatin
IMAGE Riell Santos

Gelatin desserts are not reserved for just the holidays! In fact, you don't need to wait that long if you love eating desserts like maja blanca and Cathedral Windows. 

What is Cathedral Windows?

Cathedral windows is a childhood favorite dessert, and for anyone who loves gelatin desserts, it's comfort food. Did you know the Cathedral Window was originally called "Rainbow Gelatin"? In fact, Goldilocks was the first to introduce the colorful Cathedral Window to the market because it's an original Goldilocks recipe developed by one of its co-founders. 

cathedral windows from goldilocks
This is the original Cathedral Window dessert from Goldilocks.
Photo by Goldilocks

The idea behind this colorful dessert is many fruity flavors in one product. The assorted colorful and fruity-tasting cubes were covered in sweet milky gelatin that made the gelatin dessert whole. The dessert was originally called a "Rainbow Gelatin", but was changed in the 1980s to "Cathedral Window" since it looks like translucent stained-glass windows according to Pinky Yee whose mother-in-law is Goldilocks co-founder Milagros Leelin Yee

Table of Contents

• How to Make Cathedral Window Bars

• How to Serve Cathedral Window Bars

• Tips to Make Perfect Cathedral Window Bars

• How to Store Cathedral Window Bars

• Watch: Cathedral Windows Recipe Video

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• Cathedral Windows Recipe

How to Make Cathedral Window Bars 

The Cathedral Window dessert is still the same but in this recipe, the kind of gelatin used is swapped out. Instead of animal gelatin, this uses agar-agar, a gelatin from seaweed we more popularly know as a gulaman

The way to use gulaman is not to be confused with gelatin which actually melts at high temperatures. That's one of the main reasons gelatin needs to always be chilled or refrigerated. Gulaman however isn't as temperature sensitive which makes it perfect for the tropical weather we enjoy.


Not only that, if you are on a plant-based diet, the use of gulaman makes this dessert into a vegetarian, and even a vegan, version. Just switch out the fresh milk for the nut milk of your choice, and you'll still achieve a creamy, flavorful, and colorful dessert that anyone can eat and will love.  

How to Serve Cathedral Window Bars 

The best way to serve this dessert is chilled, straight from the refrigerator, sliced into bars, and served on a plate. Since these bars are pretty solid, you can even make smaller cubes that you can pick up and eat like a brownie! 

Thinking of other ways to serve it? Why not cube these up small into bite-sized pieces and pile them into serving cups. Top with whipped cream, sweetened or not, for a more decadent way to enjoy this gulaman dessert. You can even make these in layers


Tips to Make Perfect Cathedral Window Bars 

cathedral windows recipe using gulaman or agar agar seaweed gelatin
These bars are actually cathedral windows in bar form!
Photo by Riell Santos

The best tips for making cathedral window bars are also the best tips for making any no-bake dessert using gulaman: 

1 Remember that gulaman is not gelatin. 

This is important to note because these two gels need to be treated and handled differently. While gelatin needs to be bloomed, gulaman does not. Just dissolve and then heat it up to boiling before pouring into a mold. 


2 Sweeten to taste. 

Remember that each bite of these bars should be sweetened, even if just slightly, so you're not biting into something bland. 

3 Start with cold water.

If you're using gulaman for any dish, you have to start with cold water. Cold water will help dissolve the gulaman powder and soften the gulaman bars if that's what you're using. Hot water will start the gelling process and since gulaman doesn't remelt easily, you'll end up with a grainy gulaman dessert. 

4 Boil it! 

Unlike gelatin, gulaman needs to be boiled to fully activate its gelling properties so go ahead and heat the mixture to a boil before transferring the mixture into a mold. 

How to Store Cathedral Window Bars 

What's so wonderful about this recipe is that if you happen to leave it out on your dining table, it won't melt into a liquid mess, even during a Philippine hot summer day. This characteristic is what makes it easy to make and serve for any occasion, including picnics and trips to the beach! Just slice and serve. 


However, it's best to remember that it's not recommended to freeze these bars, so you don't alter the consistency of the gulaman

Watch: Cathedral Window Bars Recipe Video


Cathedral Window Bars Recipe 


Prep Time
15 mins 
Cooking Time
25 mins 
Ready In
40 mins 
Cooking Method
Simmer and Chill

Cathedral Window Bars Ingredients

How to make Cathedral Window Bars


Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

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