Sweet red bean paste centers, covered with rice-flour dough (mochi)
In the Japanese Tea Ceremony, guests enjoy a sweet before consuming the matcha (both thin and thick versions). The sweet provides contrast and complement to the intense matcha tea. Over the past six months, I've discovered that I love Japanese sweets! They are unlike American sweets: no creams, fats or heavy sugars. In fact, they are often comprised of sweetened bean paste or simple pressed sugars. But they are poetic, textural, beautiful and to my liking.
My teacher, Margie-sensei, has shared a recipe for making a daifukummochi. You can find the original recipe here. It's surprisingly simple, though not necessarily easy. The pictures show my first attempt. I will be making this again!
Recipe courtesy of Margie, of the Issoan Tea School. To begin, you must find the right ingredients. You'll need sweet rice flour. (This is made from sticky rice and be sure that it says "sweet" rice flour. Bob's Red Mill carries it locally at New Seasons markets.) You'll also need red bean paste, most easily found at an Asian grocer. (It freezes well.) You'll also need sugar, light Karo syrup and corn starch.
Balls of sweetened red bean paste
Stir together the flour, sugar and water in a 1:1:1 ratio. Press through a sieve to remove lumps. The results should go into a microwave-safe bowl. Add food coloring and 1 Tbsp of Karo syrup (assuming you are using 1 cup of each main ingredient). Give it all a stir.
Into the microwave with it, and cook on high for one minute. Stir and repeat in one-minute increments until the mixture becomes stretchy and translucent. Dump the sticky mochi mass (not so easy) onto a plate that has been well-dusted with corn starch. Let the mochi cool enough to handle, but not so cool that it becomes tough. Playing hot potato, pinch off small amounts (enough to cover a bean paste ball) and flatten in your palms. Pinch around the red bean paste balls, dusting with corn starch as you go for easier handling.
These are best served within 24 hours. I keep mine in the fridge. They really are delicious!