A photo of mochi cake topped with crushed pineapple and a mint left with two small scoops of vanilla ice cream on the plate.

Hawaiian Mochi Cake

The really inviting display at Trader Joe’s drew me right in. Plus, the huge sign above the items was impossible to miss.

What’s was it? Mochi cake mix. I stood there reading and reflecting: Mochi. Cake. I’m clearly in unfamiliar territory.

I confess, for me, boxed cake mix is heresy. However, let me quickly say, I pass zero judgment on anyone who goes that route. I love to line up all ingredients, precisely weigh them, and marvel how science takes over to create deliciousness. The box takes all the fun out.

Could I, should I, would I succumb to the Mochi cake mix? I left Trader Joe’s without it, but kept thinking about that box, as if it was calling me to give it a try. So, the box won and three days later I went back to bring one home.

It has the same chewy mochi texture with eggs and butter giving it the traditional cake result. Unlike other mochi, this version is baked instead of steamed.

Hawaiian mochi cake, also known as butter cake, has a murky origin. It’s a great example of fusion cuisine – its primary ingredient, glutinous rice flour, is a Japanese stable and it’s thought it was created by Japanese immigration to Hawaii.

Others believe it’s a descendant of bibingka, a similar cake from Filipino cuisine. Bibingka, a type of baked rice cake from the Philippines, is traditionally cooked in a terracotta oven lined with banana leaves and typically eaten for breakfast or as merienda (mid-afternoon snack) especially during the Christmas season.

Monday’s Sand-Reckoner Vineyards Wine Tasting & Charcuterie Board Making class is sold out. 

Celebrate Fat Tuesday on Fat Tuesday, February 21, with one of Tucson’s beloved and legendary chefs who helped set the standard of our culinary scene, Chef Jim Murphy. He always brings his kitchen magic to his dishes. Chef Jim created two new recipes for this hands-on class: Turkey and Andouille Gumbo and Praline Bread Pudding. After all, gumbo is the official state cuisine of Louisiana.

On February 23, Chef Devon Sanner and his daughter will teach a kid chefs class. Stay tuned for the details which I share next week.

On March 2, beekeeper, sommelier and mushroom forager Noel Patterson of Dos Manos Apiaries returns for a honey tasting class. Like wine, cheese and chocolate, honey has joined the ranks as an artisanal obsession. Experience Sonoran Desert honey like never before and taste it like a sommelier tastes wine. Signups will be available next week.

News & Notes
Two Tucson restaurants are named in Yelp’s “Top 100 Places to Eat” list. Tumerico, 2526 E. 6th St., at No. 8 is on the list for its “Latin Inspired Vegan & Vegetarian Food.” Chef/owner Wendy Garcia, who also owns La Chaiteria, was also just named a James Beard Award semifinalist. At No. 26 is Buendia Breakfast & Lunch Cafe, 2530 N. First Ave, owned by Julio and Jael Garcia.

U-Pick Farm Market has returned to Tucson Village Farm every Tuesday from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the Big Farm, 2201 E. Roger Road. Look for the windmill, go around to the back, grab a basket and clippers and go home with organic farm-fresh goodness. Here’s what they’ll have: Kale, chard, arugula, mustard greens, tatsoi, mizuna, pak choi (low quantity), leaf lettuce, head lettuce, spinach (low quantity), kohlrabi, broccoli, cilantro, dill, oregano, rosemary, thyme. Pre-picked: Magdalena big cheese squash, kale, chard, butternut squash, tatsoi, mizuna, mustard greens, head lettuce, large radishes, turnips, broccoli. Coming soon: Carrots, Chinese cabbage, kalettes.

On February 18, from 9 a.m. – noon, it’s a Citrus Celebration at Mission Garden, 946 W. Mission Lane, celebrating the abundant harvest of sweet oranges, sour oranges, sweet limes, sour limes, lemons, kumquats, pomelos and grapefruit. Especially featured will be the underappreciated sour Seville oranges, the source of the world’s marmalade and useful in many other ways, too.

On February 19, from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Arizona Winery Tours presents a food and wine pairing dinner featuring Chef Devon Sanner of Zio Peppe and Wilheim Family Vineyards at the Urban Grove, 550 W. Orange Grove Rd. Starting with hors d-oeuvres and sangria, Chef Devon and the winemaker will present the three courses. Click here for the details.

Wishing you joy in the kitchen,

Hawaiian Mochi Cake
Yield: 24 pieces

Recipe by Gemma Stafford

1 box (16 oz.) Mochiko Flour (sweet glutinous rice flour)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups whole milk
1 can (13 oz.) coconut milk
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9- x 13-inch glass baking dish..
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine sweet rice flour, sugar and baking powder. Add eggs, milk, coconut milk, butter and vanilla. Beat until mixture forms a smooth batter. Since there’s no gluten, no need to worry about overmixing. Pour into baking dish.
3. Bake 50-60 minutes or until golden brown on top. Cool completely on a wire rack.
4. Cut into 24 squares. Butter mochi isn’t served with any topping or sauces, so once cooled, it’s ready to enjoy. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

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