IS BUTTER MOCHI the perfect dessert? With “butter” right in the name, it is, yes, a fantastically, deliciously buttery cake situation. It’s also got the nostalgic, faint sweetness that evaporated milk provides, plus the richness of coconut milk for reminiscence of the tropics. Made beautifully bouncy, supremely sticky and gloriously gummy by sweet rice flour, it’s a texture-eater’s dream, achieving a nonpareil squidginess.

That rice flour — mochiko, with the Koda Farms box of it marked with the blue star found in pretty much every grocery store — and everything else about butter mochi is usually gluten-free, so everybody can enjoy it. Dress it up — maybe with coconut cream and a light showering of toasty-sweet coconut flakes — and it’s a lovely conclusion to a nice dinner. Cut a piece out of the pan and eat it on the spot, and it’s a satisfyingly filling snack cake that’s so un-crumby, you don’t even need a napkin. Don’t sleep on one more serving suggestion: for breakfast, with coffee. So. Good.

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Furthermore, even a bad baker can make great butter mochi. Both the ingredients and the timing are forgiving — unlike the strictly scientific approach many other desserts require, a little sloppiness doesn’t matter here, and the window of it being done, but not overdone, is a rather open one.

Stephen Mark Toshio Toyofuku — who is definitively not a bad baker — says all of this is true. He’s the one making the magnificent butter mochi at The Chicken Supply — it’s the only dessert sold by Seattle’s Phinney Ridge purveyor of also-magnificent, also-gluten-free fried chicken on a stick.

Toyofuku’s resume is a local all-star one: Joule, Revel, Homer and Opus Co. (before it became The Chicken Supply). Before that, he cooked for a couple summers at Hakkei (now closed) in Honolulu; he grew up there and elsewhere on Oahu, loving butter mochi since he first had it when, he thinks, he was around 3 years old. “I’d had mochi before, but never with that much, like, sugar and butter in it … more just like the plain pounded rice, like ceremonial mochi,” Toyofuku recollects with the specificity of those born to eat. “And I was just like, ‘Oh, this is amazing.’

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“It’s one of those things kind of like — you know — someone’s grandma’s chocolate chip cookies” in Hawaii, Toyofuku continues. “It’s something that you would bring to school, you would see at a potluck, like at the family gathering of several families — that would be one of the desserts on the table.”

He considers butter mochi “a truly American dessert” — embracing his Japanese American culture plus that of Hawaii and beyond. “It combines so many various aspects of how back home is a melting pot …” he says. “There’s canned evaporated milk in there, which is also popular in parts of East and South Asia. But, you know, it’s like from Hawaii, when, in the middle of nowhere, this was how a lot of people drank milk back in the day. And somehow combined with that magical texture of just that pounded rice mochi” — an originally Japanese ingredient — “in my opinion, this is a dessert that just truly showcases how wonderful that springy texture can be. And, on top of that, it’s just combined with the mouthfeel, the sugar and the comfort.”

Toyofuku’s excellent recipe here is a modified version of one found in the Hawaiian Electric Company cookbook. He originally added fenugreek because he was out of vanilla, then found it gave “that little maple twist” — now he uses both. He’s kindly also provided instructions for his fluffy-and-flaky dual toppings, too. 

Keep an eye out for dates for Toyofuku’s lunchtime pop-up called Nekojiru (nekojirupopup.com), serving donburi lunches out of The Chicken Supply space — the name’s a tribute to one of his favorite manga artists and the animated film “Nekojiru-Sou.” Toyofuku calls his lunches “local food,” Japanese/Hawaii-style, and he also credits the anime series “Shokugeki No Soma” as inspiration for his “whimsical, no-BS comfort food” — which sounds like the same kind of greatness as his butter mochi.

Stephen Mark Toshio Toyofuku’s Butter Mochi with Fenugreek Topped with Coconut Whip and Toasted Coconut Flakes
“Ahead-of-time notes: You’ll want to store your canned coconut cream or milk for the coconut whip in the fridge overnight before making it. I also prechill my whipping bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer an hour before making the coconut whip. Of course, the butter mochi is totally excellent on its own, too!” — Toyofuku

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For the mochi:
5 eggs
½ cup butter plus a couple tablespoons to grease the pan
Parchment paper
1 box mochiko (Koda Farms Blue Star is sold at Safeway and pretty much any other grocery store)
3 cups sugar
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fenugreek powder
14.5 oz. evaporated milk (Carnation makes a can this size, or substitute one 12-oz. can)
13.5 oz. coconut milk (I use Chaokoh)
1½ teaspoons vanilla paste (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

1. Take eggs out of the fridge to bring to room temperature. Butter a standard 8×12-inch or 9×13-inch brownie pan or glass casserole dish, then line it with parchment paper — I usually do two sheets, cutting one so it goes on the bottom up the sides the long way, and the other so it goes bottom up the sides the wide way (it usually leaves some room on the corners).
2. Mix mochiko, sugar, baking powder and fenugreek powder.
3. Melt butter over low-ish heat — try to keep it from coming to a bubble. 
4. Mix evaporated milk, coconut milk, eggs and vanilla, then whisk together until even.
5. Slowly whisk the dry mix into the milks/eggs/vanilla mix. Mix/whisk until smooth.
6. Finally, mix/whisk in the melted butter until smooth and even.
7. Bake at 350 for 1½ to 2 hours, rotating the pan every 20-25 minutes if possible. Start checking after 1½ hours, and adjust your bake time based on what it looks like — the top should be golden brown, but not burned, and if you use a cake tester or a toothpick, it should come out relatively clean — it should NOT have too much sticky goo on it.

For the coconut whip:
1 cup coconut cream (or coconut milk, if that’s what’s available)
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar (add more to taste — some people want very sweet; some people do not)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1. Store canned coconut cream or milk in the fridge overnight. When ready, scoop out the thick separated top as the main part to fill your cup. (I also prechill my whipping bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer an hour before making the cream.)
2. Whisk all ingredients together until desired texture — some people prefer the smoother, softer, freshly whipped texture of cream, or, if you whisk it longer, you get more of that stiffer, butterier and more aerated version more reminiscent of canned whip cream. Stick in the fridge until using.

For the toasted coconut flakes:
Toast about 2 cups coconut flakes in the oven at 350 degrees F until browned, about 5-8 minutes, then toss with about 2 tablespoons sugar. 

To serve:
Top hefty squares of butter mochi with coconut whip and sprinkle with lots of toasted coconut flakes, then enjoy!