For dessert, I made a trio of sweets which, included gluten-free sugar snowflake cookies, lime meltaways, and matcha mochi cake. A perfect blend of cultures. I was introduced to mochi cake recently by fellow baker/blogger, Talida as she was so sweet to bake and gift me a box. Even though I've seen recipes before, I never thought to make it myself as I'm not a huge fan of the traditional nian gao/glutinous rice cake. Usually eaten during Chinese New Year nian gao (in Mandarin means sticky cake but also sounds like "higher year" = lucky year) is also made with sweet rice flour and has a softer, gooey-er texture than mochi. So when I took my first bite of Talida's matcha mochi cake I was blown away - it's the first gluten-free treat to leave me wanting more! The center was chewy, as you imagine mochi to be, not too sweet and the outside had a nice, browned crust that reminded me of the edges of a brownie. Those edges...I could eat an entire pan of them.
You know I had to ask her for the recipe, but when I tried re-creating it at home I didn't get the same browned crust. It may have been too much liquid or my oven not baking at the right temperature. I even went out and finally bought an oven thermometer (which, was only $3 by the way) because I wanted to get this right. Tried it a second time and still not exactly what I was looking for... I started Google'ing other mochi cake recipes to compare and it wasn't until the fourth try that I got pretty darn close to Talida's version. My crust didn't brown like hers but I got those edges - that's all that mattered to me.
Chinese/Lunar New Year is coming up at the end of the month (January 31st) - I don't think my family will complain if I bring this matcha anko (red bean paste) mochi cake to the celebration.
Matcha Anko (Red Bean Paste) Mochi Cake
The recipe I ended up using was a slight variation from what Talida had shared with me. I think starting with softened (but not melted butter) was a key factor to attaining the brownie/cake-like tops and edges (for me, anyway). I found the recipes using melted butter resulted in a crackly/loose top and a gooey, fudge-like texture on the inside which I'm not too fond of. I over-baked my cake a bit as I wanted a drier end product. Start checking for doneness around 25 minutes if you'd like the center of your cake to be more mochi-like and not as dry.
Match green tea powder, Mochiko rice flour, and anko (red bean paste) can usually be found at an Asian grocery store or ordered online. If red bean is not your thing, feel free to leave it out.
The original recipe makes double the amount of this recipe and is baked in a 9x13 inch pan for 60 minutes so if you're feeding a larger crowd feel free to double this recipe.
Yield: 1 8x8-inch pan , or 16 2-inch squares
8 oz (half a box) Mochiko (Sweet Rice Flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Anko (Adzuki/red bean paste) , store-bought or homemade
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8-inch pan with butter.
In a medium bowl, whisk together rice flour, baking powder, salt and matcha powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Stir in milk and vanilla, then add eggs. Gradually add the rice flour mixture and mix until well-combined.
Spread batter evenly into prepared ban. Place red bean paste into small pastry bag (or plastic ziptop bag), then pipe 4-5 stripes over the mochi cake batter (or simply dollop spoonfuls of paste on the batter). Using a paring knife, swirl the bean paste into the batter. The paste will be a bit thick but just keep cutting into it and swirl as desired.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean. The cake will brown around the edges and pull away from the sides of the pan. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.
Source: Inspired by Talida Bakes, adapted from Kirbie's Cravings