05 October 2008

vanilla mochi chunk strawberry sorbet cupcakes!

the very long story on how this cupcake came to be.

As the long title has already revealed... I made vanilla mochi chunk strawberry sorbet cupcakes!
The first response to this name is always, "Huh? Mochi? What?"
(Unless you are Asian. Or eat a lot of Asian food. Then an "Ohhh! I know what you're talking about!" pops out.)

Allow me to enlighten you. (feel free to skip and scroll... i'm going to talk a lot!)

You may have already seen mochi in the freezer section ofAsian grocery stores.

Or sealed in airtight packs that aren't refrigerated.

Mochi is this chewy and very sticky pastelike "dough" that is popular as a snack in Asian culture. Usually they are wrapped around some sort of paste such as red bean paste or mung bean paste. It's a very subtle sweet flavor, but I'm not too fond of it. It's simply made of glutinous rice flour, sugar, and water. There is always always something covering the mochi because it is very sticky. It's not possible to handle these without some sort of powder, they are like honey in that once it touches you, you can't do anything until you wash your hands, unless you put a barrier in between the stickyness and you!

A Japanese friend of mine told me that when she was younger and had to make mochi in kindergarten in Japan (old style... where one pounds out the rice and steams it), the way they knew they had it correct was when it matched the texture of your earlobe. So if you've never had mochi, feel your earlobe! It's very similar to how mochi is (but don't worry, I'm sure it tastes nothing like earlobes.)

I've done some surgery to show you the insides!
Green = powdered peanuts on outside, peanut paste on inside
Yellow = sesame seeds on outside, black sesame seed paste inside
Red = regular flour (or starch) on outside, red bean paste on inside.

I still prefer American creamy sweets, thank you! And that is why some genius decided to use the mochi layer to wrap balls of ice cream! More than likely, you've probably seen those ice cream mochi balls in grocery stores, as they are definitely suited more for the American's taste buds.

Then, yet another genius from somewhere in Korea developed the tart frozen yogurt. Red Mango, Pinkberry, sound familiar? Now there are a ton of them: Yogurtland, Swirlz, The Yogurt Spot, Mambo Berry, and so on and so on. Some are chains, some are single mom and pops, but no doubt the fad is growing. I am still waiting impatiently for the asian chewy bread shop fad to start. My favorite so far is Tomunchi in Austin (I love love them. They rotate the flavors, so i've seen peanut butter to peach to kiwi to lychee to pistachio, it's endless fun!). Then another genius did the ultimate thing: added chopped bits of mochi as a topping for the frozen yogurt.

GENIUS, i say!

And that is how my cupcakes were born, because I became obsessed with the texture of the mochi mixed with my yogurt.

Frozen yogurt from Tomunchi.
Mango frozen yogurt, tart frozen yogurt, and peach frozen yogurt with fresh kiwis, strawberries, mangos, and mochi chunks.

Creamy, light, tart, fresh, and most importantly, chewy! And the guilt factor is not as high, but the taste satisfaction level skyrockets!

My friend Mark and I developed a ranked list of requirements for these yogurt shops.

1. Must have tart plain yogurt. No exception. If you don't have the tart stuff, you don't count. So TCBY, Marble Slab, Chick-fil-a, etc, all that style of yogurt cannot be considered.
2. Must have Mochi chunks. If you don't have these chunks of goodness, I won't be back.
3. Must be DIY (do it yourself). I want to make my own, mixing 1 or 15 flavors if i wish, and piling on lots of mochi bits and fruit and whatever I want! So, this rule knocks out Pinkberry - i don't want it if I can't make it.
4. Must have Mango frozen yogurt. This is where the list can start deviating.
5. Must have Mango fruit.

Rules 1-3 are most important, and after than we decided the rules were not so important. 4 and 5 are mainly my personal preferences.

And then the ideas began forming. Let's... let's... put the mochi in cupcakes and put the frozen yogurt on the cupcake!!

But first, how to make mochi!

Making the Mochi.
[1] cup glutinous rice flour (any asian grocery should carry this)
[1] cup water
[1/4] cup castor sugar
[some] extra flour to dust with
[1] silicone baking pan (anything microwavable will do, but if it is silicone it helps a lot)
[1] microwave

Open up your glutinous rice flour! ...or farine de riz gluant! How I love French!

Measure out your 1 cup of glutinous rice flour and dump it in a mixing bowl.

your 1/4 cup of sugar

Addition of the 1 cup of water to the sugar and flour mix

Now mix it up with an electric mixer until there are no lumps. it should be pretty watery.

Pour it into your container. Cover it with clingwrap if you don't have a lid.

Zap it for a good 4 minutes.

It ought to look like this! It will be sticky and solid, as well as hot hot hot.
Let it cool covered in the fridge.
Always keep covered when not being consumed as it will dry out.

That's it!
You can dust your hands and start molding and wrapping with your newly created mochi, congratulations! I kept going to make it into the chunks I so adored from the yogurt shops.

Once cooled (I left it there overnight, but I'm sure it takes less time than that),
put some of that extra flour on top and spread it around so you
can run your fingers over the surface without it sticking to you.

Keep your hands dusted and peel it out.
As you peel it, coat it with the flour so it doesn't stick to you.
This is where the silicone pan comes in handy as it is flexible
and you can manipulate it to help push the mochi out.

I used scissors to cut it into long strips.
And after each cut, I coated the cut side with powder.

Then I cut those strips into squares! Or, things that remind me of squares.
Everytime I made a cut, I made sure to dust the
newly exposed side with flour to avoid any sticking.

That's it!
Now you have your own mochi chunks that you can mix with your own ice cream at home!

I kept going and turned them into cupcakes since mochi by itself doesn't really do it for me. It's the texture mixed with other stuff that makes me giddy.

First, you need a cupcake recipe. I chose vanilla. A quick tastespotting search, and...

Vanilla Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Tartelette. (I didn't have self-rising flower so I just added some baking powder and salt)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cream your two sticks of butter.

Add your sugar and keep on creaming.

Add your eggs one at a time and keep mixing.

Alternate your flour/salt/baking powder mix with the
1 cup of milk when adding it to the batch.

My favorite part!
Stir in those mochi chunks!

Ready for the batter...

all filled up!

all hot and baked! can you see the mochi?

here's some help in case you couldn't find it.

disseced view. again, can you spot the mochi? (this sad cupcake didn't have a lot.)

here you go!

I was too lazy to drive (and not that desperate) for the frozen yogurt, so I substituted it with some strawberry sorbet i had in the fridge. I sliced it up, cut out a square, and stuck it on top! But something was still missing... the fresh fruit!

I don't have any strawberries... but I do have cereal with dried strawberry chunks...

And voila! The cupcake is done! (and melting) The tartness of the sorbet worked perfectly with the slight sweetness of the cupcake and the chewiness of the mochi.

You must find the mochi on your own this time!

But I will zoom in to help you find it.

Conclusion: I enjoyed taking the elements of something I loved and applying it elsewhere - in fact, I've been doing that in my artwork and I've just now begun playing with it in my baking. My next project is to keep working with mochi, it has a lot of potential and I'm not done playing with it yet! And now I need to stop baking and start studying and working on school projects, or else I'm going to have to drop out of college!


mimi said...

i can't believe you made mochi dough and didn't put any ice cream inside!!! ;-)

i love mochi, and your cupcakes look so sweet!

gkbloodsugar said...

Well, I learnt something new today!

These guys can fill in anytime Marshmallows are away.

Such an awesome post. Loving the effort. Thanks!

joanh said...

wow! that is awesome!!!!

chocolatecup said...

OMG. this is amazing. why have i not seen this before? ohmyyyyy. i want to eat it nowwwww!

aznlily95 said...

It looks delicious, but how long did you cook them for, because I saw that Tartlette used 20 min for the cupcakes, but they were minis and yours looked like regular sized ones...