Mini Mochi Donuts

I’ll admit it–when it comes to what I like to watch on TV I don’t always like what’s mainstream. I’m a total enthusiast for public television and the lack of commercials that go with it, so when I came across a PBS special covering National Doughnut Day this past Tuesday, I placed the remote down at the very mention of Fresh Strawberry Donuts.  In the re-run, the late Huell Howser was driving around LA looking for unusual and historical places to have doughnuts–like a much less edgy version of something Anthony Bourdain might cover.

I have a serious weakness when it comes to doughnuts.  The ironic (and wise) thing is, I almost never eat them.  The last time I had a doughnut was when I visited Top Pot Doughnuts in Seattle a few years ago.  I was attending my very first food photography workshop with Helene Dujardin and two days into my trip I realized that Top Pot Doughnuts was a few doors down from my hotel.  Other than telling you that you must order the unassuming yet incredibly delicious plain cake doughnut when you get there (they spice them with mace!), I will say that Top Pot is a place that shouldn’t be missed if you are a doughnut lover and can remind yourself to have self-control before stepping through the doors.

On none other than National Doughnut Day today, I’d like to share with you a simple recipe for Mini Mochi Doughnuts, a specialty that’s perfect for the mochi lover who wants to celebrate this unique day on a smaller, healthier scale.  Mini Mochi Doughnuts start with a gluten-free rice flour batter that’s made with rice milk, and is later baked off in the oven.  Lightening up the texture of the mochi batter itself sets the stage for highlighting the shiny chocolate ganache glaze, which can be scattered with all kinds of yummy sprinkles and toppings.

As I like variety in color and flavor, I typically divide the prepared batter into 4 portions when I make these doughnuts.  I like to flavor each of the 1/4 portions of liquid batter with different flavorings like cocoa powder, freeze-dried strawberry powder, vanilla bean, and of course my favorite…green tea matcha powder!  These flavorings give a vibrant, natural boost of color, which is always nice when you are making a food item as fun as doughnuts are.

It’s important to remember that there is some baking powder in these Mini Mochi Doughnuts, so it’s best to work with at least two mini doughnut baking pans when making these.  If you let the batter sit around too long before baking, the doughnuts won’t rise in the oven as they ideally should.

Another thing to pay careful attention to is to make sure the mini doughnut baking pans are thoroughly sprayed with non-stick spray before using them.  Mochi batter likes to stick to the pan even after having been baked off, so please don’t skimp on the spray.  And if you don’t have spray, use some vegetable oil and a pastry brush to create an evenly greased layer on your pans.

Cool the mochi doughnuts completely before removing them from the pans, otherwise they will warp under the pressure from your fingers.  You can speed up the cooling process by placing them in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes after they have already cooled for 15 minutes at room temperature.  When they have cooled completely, run a toothpick around the inner and outer edges of the molds, then use your fingers to gently tug the doughnuts as they release them from the pan.

I love that I didn’t have to resort to deep fat frying to make these cuties.  Even if you decide to pass up on the chocolate glaze, the naturally colored plain mochi donuts are just as enticing as the decorated ones are.  The plain donuts make a less sweet snacking cake that’s perfect with a cup of unsweetened Asian tea.  I like to think of these adorable Mini Mochi Donuts as wagashi turned rouge–a traditional treat that’s taken on Western-style individuality and charm.

Mini Mochi Donuts

Makes 18 mini donuts.

Ingredients:

{Donuts}

4 oz. mochiko (sweet rice flour)

3/4 cup rice or almond milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp baking powder

Non-stick vegetable or coconut oil spray

sprinkles, for decorating

{Chocolate Ganache}

2 Tbsp heavy cream

1/4 cup chocolate chips

{Variations}

***add one of these options to every 1/4 cup of batter or 1/4 of full recipe***

For chocolate donuts:  1 1/2 tsp cocoa powder, sifted

For green tea donuts:  1 tsp matcha powder, sifted

For strawberry donuts:  1 1/2 tsp freeze-dried strawberry powder (pulverize the strawberries in a spice grinder)

For vanilla bean donuts:  1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Equipment:

large mixing bowl

wire whisk

4 small bowls

1 Tbsp measure

2 mini doughnut pans (I used Wilton)

toothpicks

cooling rack

Directions:

1.)    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously spray the mini doughnut pans with non-stick oil spray.  Using wire whisk, mix sweet rice flour, milk, sugar, vanilla, and baking powder together in a large bowl and mix evenly.

2.)  If you prefer, divide the batter into 1/4 cup portions into smaller bowls, then add one of the {Variations} to each bowl to create flavored doughnuts.  If you don’t, your doughnuts will just be a plain vanilla flavor.  Mix in the powder or paste until each batter is evenly colored.

3.)  Spoon 1 Tbsp of the batter into each mini doughnut mold, making sure to keep the middle hole portion of the mold clean and free of batter.  When you are finished spooning out the batter, lightly jiggle the pan so that the batter distributes itself evenly in each mold.

4.)  Bake the doughnuts for 17-20 minutes.  When a toothpick inserted in a doughnut comes out completely clean, remove the doughnuts from the oven and place on cooling rack to cool completely (after the doughnuts have cooled at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, you can then place the pan in the fridge to speed up the cooling process).

5.)  Run a toothpick all along the inner and outer edges of each mold, then gently use your fingers to unmold the doughnuts from the pan.

6.)  Prepare the ganache by bringing the cream to almost boiling either on a stovetop or in the microwave.  Place chocolate chips in a bowl and pour the hot cream over them.  Gradually stir the chocolate until it becomes thick and glossy.  Dunk the top of each mini doughnut in the ganache, then lightly shake off any excess.  Top each doughnut with sprinkles, allow the chocolate to set for a few minutes, and serve.  After the ganache has set, Mini Mochi Donuts can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days.

Neapolitan Mochi Cake

I can’t believe we’re already in the midst of February!  With Valentine’s Day arriving in a few short days, I’m sure you might be thinking of something a little decadent to give to your sweetie this year.  Why not make a heart-shaped Neapolitan Mochi Cake for both you and your love to snack on instead of the same old box of chocolates?

Strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate are one of the most yummy flavor combinations around.  So if your Valentine loves Neapolitan ice cream sandwiches, then they’ll also love this Japanese-style sweet rice cake.  It’s as if the classic frozen treat from Naples, Italy has traveled East!

Back in November, I made Pumpkin Butter Mochi, a type of Japanese wagashi that is generally eaten as a tea snack.  Those individually-sized mochi were made with a base of light coconut milk, the type found in the refrigerator section of your market with a consistency much like regular milk.  This recipe uses real coconut milk, the thicker kind you find in a can.  I figured that since this mochi isn’t stuffed with any filling, full-on extra richness and flavor was the way to go.

For the chocolate layer of this cake, use the best baking cocoa you can find.  The darker and better quality your cocoa powder is, the more brownie-like the chocolate layer of this mochi cake will be.  And for the pink layer, I’ve added a bit of strawberry syrup, the kind they use in Italian sodas.  It’s the best way to get some bright strawberry flavor and pinky color into the top layer of the cake.

Enjoy some freshly baked mochi cake with your sweetheart this V-day!  Diced into little bits scattered over ice cream, or cut into thick slices for snacking, this popular Asian treat is made even more delicious and charming with classic Neapolitan flavors mixed in.

Neapolitan Mochi Cake

Makes 1- 6” mochi cake.

Ingredients:

8 oz. mochiko (sweet rice flour)

1 cup coconut milk (the kind from a can)

1/2 cup water

2/3 cup sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp cocoa powder, sifted

1 Tbsp strawberry syrup (I used Torani brand)

Non-stick spray

chocolate sprinkles, for decorating (optional)

Equipment:

large mixing bowl

wire whisk

3 small bowls

scale

6” heart-shaped cake pan (I used Wilton)

piece of foil to cover cake pan

cooling rack

Directions:

1.)    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Using wire whisk, mix sweet rice flour, coconut milk, water, sugar, vanilla, and baking powder together in a large bowl and mix evenly.

2.)    Using the scale, weigh the mixed mochi batter (minus the mixing bowl).  Divide the number by 3, then place each amount of that measure into 3 separate smaller bowls.  One bowl will be for the chocolate batter, one bowl will be for the strawberry batter, and one bowl will be for the plain white batter.

3.)    Into a 1/3 portion of the full amount of batter, add the sifted cocoa powder and mix in well.  Spray cake pan with an even spray of non-stick spray.  Pour the cocoa batter mixture into the pan and shake gently to even out.  Cover loosely with foil and bake in oven for about 10 minutes until lightly set.  When it is lightly set, you should be able to touch the center without any residual batter getting on your finger (I’m going to refer to this as the “finger touch test.”  The edges of the cake will also have slightly pulled away from the pan.

4.)    When the cocoa layer is set, pour the plain vanilla portion atop the set cocoa layer, and lightly shake to even out the layer.  Cover with foil loosely, and bake for about 20 minutes until lightly set.

5.)    When white vanilla layer has set (use finger touch test) make the strawberry batter.  Mix 1 Tbsp of strawberry syrup into last portion of batter and stir in well.  Pour atop middle vanilla layer, and gently shake to even out in the baking pan.  Loosely cover with foil and bake for about 35-40 minutes until fully set (use finger touch test).  The cake will also have slightly puffed up and pulled away from sides of pan.

6.)    After removing baked mochi from oven, place on cooking rack to cool completely.  When completely cooled, slide knife between edge of cake and inside of baking pan to help remove it from the pan.  Flip the cake out and enjoy!  To store mochi, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.  Mochi is best eaten fresh, within a few days of baking.