June 30, 2012

Matcha Mochi Cupcakes

Being the start of summer, I thought it would be appropriate to put a cupcake spin on the traditional Japanese New Year's dessert, mochi.  I've been eating mochi my whole life.  My mom would usually whip up a batch for our New Year's feast of chicken, sushi rice, rice balls, red bean rice, and, of course, mochi.  Plain mochi is simply pounded sweet rice (also called glutinous rice, though it contains no gluten).  Commonly, it is filled with 'an', sweetened red bean paste.  Growing up, my favorite way to eat mochi was to toast it in the oven until it puffed up and was golden brown on the top.  I would then dip the delicious gooey, toasty, chewy delciousness in a sauce made of shoyu (soy sauce) and sugar.  Yummy!  I've since grown to appreciate the taste and texture of an-filled mochi.  I think that growing up, I associated the taste/texture of an with peanuts.  I realize they are nothing alike, but when you've never actually tasted peanut butter and know that it could kill you, random associations tend to be scary and off-putting.  My other favorite types of mochi are black sesame mochi and green tea mochi.  Peach mochi is also fabulous (even though I make the cheater's version).

What is the cheater's version?  Well, for those of us that don't own a mochi pounder device like this one, or who aren't nearly skilled/daring enough to do this with our friends, using sweet rice flour instead of pounding out freshly cooked sweet rice is appealing.  Instead of cooking the rice and then pounding it into a sticky, uniform mass, you can combine the rice flour with liquid and flavoring (if desired) and bake it or microwave it.  It's a much faster, simpler method to make mochi, but there's something to be said for making it the traditional way.

Recently, a lab member moved on to bigger and better things, so we threw a potluck lunch in her honor.  She loves mochi, so I decided that this occasion would be perfect to try to make a mochi-type cupcake.  I went with a green tea flavored cake with an an (red bean paste) flavored whipped cream frosting.  I went with whipped cream because I thought that a buttercream would be a little too overpowering for the distinct yet delicate flavor of the an.  Plus, I didn't want a cupcake or frosting that was too sweet, again to highlight the bitterness of the green tea and the savory notes of the red bean.  Originally I was going to use a recipe that I found online, but none of the recipes that I came across seemed to have the texture that I was wanting.  I wanted a cupcake with the fluffiness and lightness of a cupcake but with a slight chew reminiscent of mochi.

Thus, I made up a recipe as I went.  Luckily I wrote down what I did because these cupcakes came out perfectly!  They were the perfect hybrid between a delicate cupcake and chewy mochi.  The frosting was subtle and complimentary to the cupcake.  I'm extremely happy with how these came out, even though I basically threw things in the mixer as I went.  One note on the recipe: I use both butter and oil.  I always do this when I'm going to top the cake with a frosting that has to be refrigerated.  The butter gives the cake a richness that oil cannot replicate, but the oil (because it is liquid at cool temperatures vs. butter's solid state) keeps the cake moist, even fresh out of the refrigerator.

Matcha Mochi Cupcakes

makes 24 cupcakes


1 stick (1/2 C) butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 box (1 lb) mochiko (sweet rice flour aka glutinous rice flour)
1 Tbs matcha powder (green tea powder)
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 C vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 C milk


1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
2. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and lightened in color.
3. In separate bowl, whisk together mochiko, matcha powder, baking powder, and salt.
4. In small bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, and milk.
5. Alternate adding dry ingredients and wet ingredients in three batches each.  After each addition, mix until just combined.
6. Fill cupcake tins 3/4 full and bake for about 25 minutes until puffed, a cake tester inserted comes out clean, and tops are just beginning to brown.
7.  Frost with Red Bean Paste Whipped Cream.

Red Bean Paste Whipped Cream


1 C heavy whipping cream
pinch salt
1/2 C sweetened red bean paste


1. Beat whipping cream and salt to soft peaks.
2. Add in red bean paste and beat until incorporated and mixture holds stiff peaks.

1 comment:

Helen said...

Hm...very yummy!!! We'll try soon when we gather the ingredients...

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