My trip over to Little Tokyo a few weeks back inspired this Pumpkin Butter Mochi recipe. As the leaves are turning and fall is officially in full swing, this sweet rice cake pairs a traditional Japanese tea snack with a classic autumn fruit…pumpkin!
I’ve chosen to use pumpkin butter in this recipe, but a spiced canned pumpkin pie filling will work just as well. Pumpkin butter is a bit thinner and more acidic than pumpkin pie filling, although both typically have the same spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg) mixed in. Because pumpkin butter has more acidic liquids like lemon or apple juice added in, it’s less starchy and less sweet than its counterpart. I actually find the “fruit butter” idea confusing, because fruit butters like pumpkin butter generally don’t contain fat.
Enjoy these pumpkin butter mochi with a cup of clean, grassy sencha or a toasty cup of houjicha–a roasted green tea. It’s really important not to overbrew Japanese green tea, so 2-3 minutes at 175 degrees is ideal. Overbrewing green tea will result in a bitter, harsh tasting liquor, so if you enjoy green teas it’s a good idea to invest in a temperature controlled electric kettle or even just an instant thermometer. You’ll be able to keep those subtle, umami notes of Japanese green teas that will pair harmoniously with these chewy, lightly sweet pumpkin butter mochi.
Pumpkin Butter Mochi
Makes 12 cakes.
8 oz sweet rice flour (mochiko)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2/3 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/3 cup pumpkin butter or spiced pumpkin purée
katakuriko (potato starch) or cornstarch
1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla, and mix rigorously with a spoon or wire whisk until the mixture is homogenous.
2.) Give the muffin pan a thorough, even coating of non-stick spray. Spoon 1 1/2 Tbsp of the mochi batter into each cavity, and place in oven to bake for 10 minutes.
3.) After 10 minutes, remove the muffin pan from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Use the back of a teaspoon or other utensil to indent a small, shallow “ditch” into each of the mochi cakes (I used the handle of a jam spreader).
4.) Spoon 1 tsp of pumpkin butter or spiced pumpkin purée into each shallow mochi cake “ditch,” then cover the filling with 1 Tablespoon of the remaining mochi batter. Spoon this remaining batter on carefully so that the pumpkin butter or purée is fully covered.
5.) Bake the filled mochi cakes in the oven for an additional 15 minutes or until cakes are very slightly puffed and surface is dry to the touch. Let mochi cakes cool completely in pan before removing.
6.) After cooled and removed from the pan, generously coat the mochi with katakuriko or cornstarch on a dry work surface, then use a wire mesh sieve to shake excess starch off of the cakes. Mochi cakes are best eaten within a day or two of baking them. You can store them in the fridge for a slightly longer shelf life, but this will result in a slightly stiffer textured mochi cake.
12 cavity standard non-stick muffin or tart pan
wire mesh sieve
rounded teaspoon measure or other similar utensil
Love these Japanese mochi cakes? Check out my post on Japanese tea and wagashi here.
Thank you for posting this article showcasing mochi making techniques and this lovely recipe. My family recently fell in love with mochi (after first tasting vanilla, red bean, and green tea mochi during Chinese Autumn Festival celebrations). As we have been having trouble finding mochi in local stores – I am so thankful to have found your article as it instills me with the confidence and inspiration to make mochi at home.
Thank you Tea And Scandal, Canada! I’ve made this process a bit easier by using the muffin pan, so there isn’t any cutting and shaping necessary. I will have to showcase the more traditional method of making mochi someday soon! In the meantime, you can try substituting the pumpkin butter for red bean paste and add a tablespoon of matcha into the batter…you should get a very similar taste to the ones you had at the Chinese Festival. =) Happy mochi making…thanks for stopping by!