The last time I lived in Hawaii, I was food editor of a statewide daily, the Honolulu Advertiser. Always on the search for the best Island recipes, I knew that local people loved food, loved talking about food and loved sharing recipes.
That included my mom, then living in Hilo, who was always copying recipes on index cards in her neat handwriting. I never paid much attention to them because we had different culinary interests. But since she passed away two years ago, I keep encountering her recipes and I find myself trying them, as a connection to her.
In cleaning out a few of her things last week, I discovered a recipe for Butter Mochi that is especially intriguing these days, when positioned as a gluten-free dessert. It’s perfect for summer, when bar cookies and cakes made in sheet pans fit the casual way we like to cook and eat.
There is no attribution for the recipe, but I know it’s one of those classic Island recipes that everyone makes. And I have adjusted and revised the recipe somewhat.
If you’ve had Japanese mochi before, the kind made with sweet rice flour, you know what to expect—a mildly sweet, smooth, soft and chewy dessert—possibly an acquired taste. The addition of butter and eggs gives this mochi a more Western appeal, adding a custard-like flavor and consistency. The coconut rises to the top to create a pleasing crust.
If you are on a gluten-free diet, please note that although rice flour and coconut don’t inherently contain gluten, if they are processed in a plant that also produces wheat flour, they could contain slight amounts of gluten, so read the labels carefully.
1 pound box mochiko (sweet rice flour)
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups milk
5 eggs, beaten
½ cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sweetened flake coconut
Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9- X 13-inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, combine mochiko, sugar and baking powder and whisk well. In another bowl add milk, eggs, butter, vanilla and coconut, and whisk to combine. Add milk mixture to mochiko mixture and mix well. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour, until top is firm and golden, and the mochi begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool and cut into 24 rectangles with a sharp knife. Makes 24 pieces.
- Mochiko can be found in Asian markets. The Koda Farms Blue Star Brand is entirely gluten-free; their facilities are dedicated exclusively to rice processing.
- Butter Mochi can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for a day or two; on a hot day, store Butter Mochi in the refrigerator, well wrapped in plastic. Bring to room temperature to eat or microwave first, to serve warm.
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