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.

Matcha Mango Mochi Rolls

Microwave and mochi may not seem like they belong in the same sentence, but yet here it is…Microwave Matcha Mango Mochi Rolls!  Could there be any more m’s in a recipe?

Traditional Japanese sweet rice cake is made from steamed glutinous rice, which is pounded into a paste and shaped to create the chewy, sticky mouthful referred to as mochi.  As authentic as it is to use a steamer to make mochi, there are many other more convenient methods you can use to make mochi, including the stove top, the oven, and even the microwave!  The microwave an ideal place to cook this treat, as any slight degree of overcooking is masked by the fact that mochi already has a characteristic chewiness about it.

These mochi rolls are the not-as-cold and not-as-sweet version of mochi ice cream.  What’s great about them is that don’t require any fancy filling techniques like those needed when making traditional filled mochi.  I make the Matcha Mango Mochi Rolls as I would cinnamon rolls–just spread a cooked mochi sheet with a layer of mango cream, then roll up, chill, and cut with a sharp serrated knife.  If you’ve allowed the roll a proper amount of time to set up in the fridge, you’ll end up with beautiful mochi slices with specks of fresh mango studded throughout.

I love that something as traditional as mochi can be made so simply in the microwave, within minutes.  For the whipped cream filling, feel free to substitute any fruit that you love…strawberries, peaches, or even bananas will work well.  And if you can’t find the freeze-dried fruit, just add more of the fresh fruit.  The filling can also easily be replaced with canned smooth red bean paste, which results in a much more traditional tasting mochi roll.

Matcha Mango Mochi Rolls

Makes 12 pieces.

Ingredients:

{Mochi Sheet}

4 oz. sweet rice flour (mochiko)

3/4 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp matcha powder, sifted

non-stick vegetable oil spray

1 cup dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut

{Mango Cream}

1/2 cup cream

2 Tbsp sugar

1/4 cup freeze-dried mango, ground to a powder in spice grinder

1/4 cup fresh, firm mango, peeled and diced into pea-size bits

Equipment:

microwaveable 9 x 13 rectangular casserole dish

2 medium mixing bowls

rubber spatula

hand-held mixer or whisk

spice grinder

peeler

work surface

large rectangular dish or baking sheet

serrated knife

Directions:

1.)  In a medium bowl, combine mochiko, baking powder, and matcha powder.  Add in water, sugar, and vanilla and mix in thoroughly until you get a homogenous batter.

2.)  Pour batter into casserole dish evenly sprayed with non-stick vegetable oil spray, distributing the batter evenly.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes, or until the mochi sheet is set and a toothpick comes out clean.

3.)  Let the mochi sheet dry to room temperature, then carefully ease out of casserole dish using a rubber spatula.  If it is easier, loosen one half of the mochi sheet, then the other half.

4.)  On top of a work surface, scatter 1 cup of desiccated coconut.  Distribute the coconut evenly into a 9 x 13 rectangle so that the mochi sheet will lay on top of it without making contact with the work surface.  Lay the sticky side of the mochi sheet on top of the coconut. The stickiness of the mochi will cause the coconut to adhere, creating the outer covering for the mochi rolls.

5.)  Make the mango cream by first whipping the heavy cream.  Add the sugar and whip until you get stiff peaks.  Fold in the dried mango powder and the fresh mango bits.

6.)  On the dry side of the mochi sheet, use a rubber spatula to apply an even 1/4″ thick layer of the whipped cream atop the entire sheet of mochi.

7.)  Like you would making cinnamon rolls, take one long side of the mochi sheet, then gradually and tightly roll up until you get a finished, long mochi roll.  Set the roll on a large rectangular dish or baking sheet seam side down, then cover with plastic wrap and set in fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.

8.)  After the roll is properly chilled, remove from the fridge and use a serrated knife to cut out 12 equally-sized pieces of mochi.  Store airtight in the fridge, where the mochi will last 2-3 days.