Thursday, October 16, 2014

"mochi" - sticky rice squares with red bean

a crunchy and chewy treat
If you've never tried "mochi" you have to try this!  You may have heard of ice cream mochi which is really popular right now - ice cream encapsulated by a chewy sticky rice exterior - but traditionally this Taiwanese snack is filled with red bean paste or sugared crushed peanuts.  The original mochi is steamed, therefore has a soft exterior; my mom has been making this baked version for as long as I can remember.  The baking creates a crunchy exterior which is a pleasant textural contrast to the sticky gooey inside.  The red bean paste has a subtle sweetness that will satisfy any sweet tooth without being cloyingly sweet.  Serving it warm minutes right out of the oven is the best way to enjoy it, but like any dessert, it's still delicious the next day!

I also realized today that this is a gluten and dairy free recipe.  Another popular trend!

Not a fan of beans?  Or you don't have red beans?  You can easily substitute something else such as jam, chocolate hazelnut spread, or even a cheesecake type filling.

what you need:
*for a 9 x 13" baking pan
  • 400 g (1 pkg) glutinous rice flour 
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil (mild tasting such as grape seed or canola)
  • 2 cups red bean paste (purchased or make your own, see below)
this is a 8 x 8" square pan, recipe was halved
what to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line baking pan with parchment paper or grease generously with butter for easy removal later.
  2. In a mixer, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  3. On low speed, slowly mix in eggs, milk and oil.  Mix until a smooth batter forms.
  4. Pour half the batter into the pan (it will seem like a thin layer).  Drop spoonfuls of red bean filling into the batter - try to make it evenly distributed but it doesn't have to be perfect.  Pour the rest of the batter on top and try your best to cover all of the filling.
  5. Bake for 45 min - 1 hr, until golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean.  If a toothpick comes out clean but your top is not browned yet, just switch your oven to broil for a minute to get your crunchy golden brown top.  
  6. Remove and cool for a few minutes - cut into squares while warm and enjoy!

Making your own red bean paste:

what you need:
  • dried red beans
  • water
  • sugar
  • brown sugar
what to do:
  1. Rinse 1 cup of red beans thoroughly.  Put beans into a small pot with enough water to generously cover them.  Bring to a boil then remove from heat and drain.
  2. Using the same pot, add fresh water just until beans are covered - bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer.  The beans will take awhile to cook until tender (about 20 - 30 minutes) - but make sure you check on them to prevent the bottom from burning.
  3. Once the beans are tender, add 2 tbsp brown sugar.  You can add more or less according to how sweet you would like your filling.  Taste and adjust accordingly.
  4. Turn off the heat and using a fork, gently mash the beans slightly.  It might seem like a lot of liquid but once the filling cools it will thicken.  You can store this in an airtight container in the fridge for several days.

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