Tuesday, July 03, 2012


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 daifukummochiYou 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 SchoolTo 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

Make little balls of red bean paste.  I found that cooling these in the fridge works well because when warm, they get a little squishy and hard to handle. 

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.
Mochi mixture

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!


La Tea Dah said...

These look delicious and very fun to make! How special that you are able to take a class from an expert.

I sometimes use sweet rice flour (for gluten free baking). It is a very nice flour to work with for baked goods.

Yesterday I purchased a book about Japanese cooking. It's interesting all the way through --- and I especially enjoyed the section about Japanese tea (daily) and a typical tea routine. It is really fun learning about all cultures.

Thanks for sharing!

Marlena said...

good for you for starting this new venture!I'll be looking forward to hearing all about it.

Marilyn said...

I can personally attest to these being totally delicious. Thanks Stephanie.

Linda J. said...

Very interesting, Stephanie! We have participted in our Japanese Sister City exchange for 20 years and I have eaten these or something very similar many times. It's fun to know about the process of making these.

Steph said...

Linda - I am sure the traditional way is to pound the rice into flour and hand-stir until the dough forms. I'm grateful for modern conveniences!

Mitra Dunn said...

Love the color you chose for the mochi! Can't wait to make these with you. I wonder if we could incorporate matcha into the dough. Might be a LOT of tea, but could be interesting.

relevanttealeaf said...

You are amazing, Steph! You are so good about trying new things with great results!

Angela McRae said...

I've had red bean cakes, so I would be willing to give these a try. (If YOU were making them, at least, ha!) And I love your tin that these are in--the texture is so pretty!