Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mochi Mochi

Pronounced, mo-chee, mochi's are wonderful Japanese rice cakes filled with your choice of either adzuki beans or green tea ice cream. I've always eaten mochis as my substitute for blueberries (miracle food), chomping on them before freestyle figure skating sessions or during finals week. They can be found in any small market in New York City, and are sold in either green or pink or covered with sesame seeds. They are dusted with cornstarch to decrease the stickiness quotient, which I'll call SQ, (but more on that later) and are rolled into circular, flat bialy-like structures. The ingredients include, one pound of rice flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 1/2 cups of sugar (although I recommend less), 1/4 teaspoon of lemon extract, four drops of red food dye (optional), and of course the adzuki beans. 

While you can purchase whole adzuki beans, soak them and then puree them and add sugar, my grandmother brought me a can of red bean paste, which required no preparation at all. To begin, I heated my oven to 350 F and then mixed the rice flour, sugar and baking powder with a whisk. In a separate bowl I combined two cups of water with the lemon extract and red food coloring and then poured that into the other bowl and whisked until the consistency was smooth. I lined a cookie tray with tin foil and greased it with Crisco, poured the batter into the pan and covered it again with tinfoil. 

My combination of recipes told me to bake for 1 hour, in lieu of using a microwave for about five to ten minutes (don't quote me on that), but this dried my dough out considerably and once it was cool, I had to knead it with water and then cover it with cornstarch to perfect the consistency. Suffice it to say that my SQ was borderline desert. I used my beautiful new rolling pin, which is ceramic and hollow so that you can pour cold water in it for short crust pastry and rolled the dough until it was about 1/4 inch thick. 

I used a jar lid to cut out two circles, plopped some adzuki bean paste in the middle of one, covered it with the other and then pressed around to fuse the two sides together. This is definitely not what you are supposed to do, but it worked for me. I cut off the excess and powdered the finished cake with more cornstarch. They are a little dry but and I quote my mom they are, "Amazing!" who would not just dish out a false compliment because I'm her daughter. It was in the '20s today, so after skating for an hour at Bryant Park's portable rink, I ate a pink mochi with some jasmine tea in my "Keep Calm and Carry on" mug.

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