Mochi Magic: 50 Traditional and Modern Recipes for the Japanese Treat, written by Kaori Becker, features such an exciting variety of ways to work with steamed, microwaved, pounded, and baked mochi. A few highlights include Bacon-Wrapped Mochi, Sanshoku Dango, Mango Mochi with Fresh Mango, Apple Cider Mochi Donuts, and Chewy Mochi Waffles. I will also be sharing her recipe for Mochi Ice Cream following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Storey Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and statements are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Kaori Becker is a cook with a specialty in Japanese cuisine. She is currently based in the Bay Area and runs Kaori’s Kitchen, a cooking school featuring mochi classes, with her mother. She is also the co-owner of The Mochi Shop in Columbus, Ohio.
Kaori begins with a short introduction on what is mochi (“a form of sticky rice cake made from Japanese short-grain rice called mochigome“), its history, and how she developed a love for the treat through watching her mother. I especially appreciated the thorough level of detail in explaining every step with helpful tips throughout. Each chapter even begins with a collection of common questions.
The Mochi-Making Basics chapter is particularly perfect for those who have never worked with mochi before. Kaori has prepared a visual guide with descriptions of specific ingredients, bean paste fillings, tools, and more. For those who want to take their mochi-making to the next level, there is also a whole section on decorating the mochi into adorable animals and other shapes.
Chapters are divided according to the following: Mochi-Making Basics, Daifuku (Filled) Mochi: The Dough, Daifuku (Filled) Mochi: The Fillings, Decorating Mochi, A New Year’s Tradition: Pounded Mochi, Odango: Balls of Fun, and Baked Mochi. The contents have a list of the included recipes with page number for easy reference.
The photography is provided by Nordeck Photography and Kaori Becker with food styling by Jeffrey Larsen and Koka Yamamoto and illustrations by Andrea Tang. Most of the recipes are accompanied by at least one photo of the finished mochi. There are also plenty of step-by-step photos to demonstrate specific techniques.
Measurements are listed in US Customary, but there is a Metric conversion chart at the end of the book. Titles are written in English and/or Japanese (romanized). Each recipe includes a headnote with basic information, personal stories, notes, and yield.
Mochi Ice Cream
We absolutely love Mochi Ice Cream (もちアイス) and I was so excited to finally attempt the process to make it at home! The current version was developed in the United States in 1994 by Frances Hashimoto and features a thin layer of soft and chewy mochi wrapped around a ball of chilled ice cream. It is such a fun way to enjoy ice cream and perfectly portioned to easily grab a sweet and refreshing treat from the freezer.
I started with the plain Microwaved White Daifuku Mochi (and this is the recipe I am sharing) as the base to pair with a pint of Salted Caramel Chip ice cream. The results were amazing. I love how versatile the plain mochi is to add a wonderful layer of texture to any favorite ice cream you happen to have on hand.
After getting the steps down, the kids and I wanted to try making more with a couple of other ice cream flavors we had in the freezer. We also made Kaori’s Chocolate Mochi to go with Condensed Milk Swirl ice cream and the Rosewater Mochi for Matcha Strawberry ice cream (so so good!).
The trick to making Mochi Ice Cream is to work fast and be prepared. Before prepping the mochi, scoop out 2-inch balls of ice cream (try to make them as even and circular as possible, a small cookie scoop helps) and freeze in cupcake liners for at least 2 hours to overnight. Keep the ice cream in the freezer until right before you place it in the prepared mochi wrapper.
My kitchen was actually close to 80˚F (27˚C) due to a suddenly hot day (a much cooler kitchen will obviously work better), so I stood right next to the freezer while assembling the mochi to get them in and out as quickly as possible. Make sure to seal the mochi well. The ice cream will start to melt the second it touches the warm mochi and will seep through any gaps or holes before it gets a chance to freeze again.
Dust your work surface and hands generously with cornstarch to keep the rolled and cut mochi from sticking.
After forming, freeze the Mochi Ice Cream for at least one hour to set. The texture is best after sitting at room temperature for about 2 minutes before eating.
Mochiko is a starchy, gluten-free flour made from sticky sweet rice. I have been able to find Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour in the international/gluten-free section of larger grocery stores and in markets with Japanese ingredients.
I also made the Nutella and Strawberries Mochi, Matcha Dango with Match Sauce, Black Sesame Mochi Donuts, and Matcha-White Chocolate Mochi Brownies.
The kids picked the Nutella and Strawberries Mochi and they had such fun making it! Nutella-based mochi is filled with a piece of strawberry and chilled Nutella for quite the delicious treat.
Inspired by Eri Combs of Eri’s Bakery, the Matcha Dango with Matcha Sauce is a flavorful twist on the traditional Mitarashi Dango. I especially loved the beautiful, shiny glaze.
There is such a delicious assortment of mochi donut recipes in the book! I started with the Black Sesame Mochi Donuts, but also have my eye on the Kinako-Cinnamon Donut Glaze and Strawberry-Rosewater Donut Glaze. The chewy mochi donuts are packed with ground black sesame seeds and topped with a black sesame white chocolate glaze.
The final recipe in Mochi Magic is for Matcha-White Chocolate Mochi Brownies. Matcha brownies are packed with white chocolate chips and the Mochiko flour base creates a decadent, chewy interior with a golden crust. It also comes together easily!
Mochi Magic is a wonderful pick for those interested in making mochi at home. Every single step is explained with a variety of skill levels making it perfect for both beginners and more advanced cooks. Many of the baked goods involve simply whisking the ingredients together while the intricate decorations and certain fillings take a bit more time.
Having a market nearby with Japanese ingredients will be helpful in locating Mochiko, matcha, dried adzuki beans, daikon, kombu, bonito flakes, black sesame seeds, kinako, silken tofu, Japanese sweet rice, and taro.
Mochi Ice Cream Recipe
Excerpt from Mochi Magic
Mochi Ice Cream
- 1 pint ice cream of your choice
Microwaved White Daifuku Mochi:
- 1 cup mochiko
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1/2 cup cornstarch or Japanese potato starch for dusting
- Scoop the ice cream into seven 2-inch-wide balls, and place each ball in a cupcake liner in an airtight container. Freeze for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
- After the ice cream has been frozen for at least 2 hours, prepare the mochi dough.
- Whisk together the mochiko and sugar in a microwaveable bowl. Add the water and mix until the water is fully incorporated. You shouldn't see any lumps, and the mixture should look smooth, like pancake batter.
- Microwave, uncovered, on high for 2 minutes.
- Dip a spatula in water and use it to stir the mochi dough. The dough should be sticky, thick, and starting to look glossy. Mix well so that the dough heats evenly and almost all the dough becomes the same color.
- Microwave the mixture for 2 minutes longer.
- Remove the mochi mixture from the microwave and stir well with the spatula.
- Rub a large cutting board with the cornstarch, focusing on the middle section of the board where the cooked mochi dough will be placed. Be sure to use a large cutting board, since the mochi dough will be rolled flat and will need ample space. Transfer the mochi to the center of the board. Let cool for 5 minutes.
- Generously dust the top of the mochi dough and a rolling pin with cornstarch. Push down on the mochi to flatten it, then roll it to 1/4-inch thickness.
- Using a 4-inch circular cookei cutter, cut out seven 4-inch circles of dough.
- Working with one circle at a time, remove a ball of ice cream from the freezer, remove the cupcake liner, and place the ball upside down in the center of the circle.
- Pull up the dough corners and pinch to seal the seams around the ice cream. Place the mochi seam side down on a fresh cupcake liner, then freeze.
- The ice cream will start melting almost immediately, so it's important to assemble and freeze each mochi quickly and individually.
- Once all the mochi ice creams are assembled, freeze them for at least 1 hour.
- To enjoy the mochi ice cream, let it soften at room temperature for 2 minutes before eating.