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You too can cook washoku / Make homemade mochi a la mode

Courtesy of Mari Nameshida

Strawberry ice cream mochi, front, and coffee ice cream mochi

By Mari Nameshida / Special to The Japan NewsMochi ice cream is a trendy dessert in America, but it uses an ingredient with its origins in Japanese cuisine: mochi sticky rice dough. One of the biggest organic grocery stores in the United States even has a display of colorful variations of the ice cream treat, where customers can pick and choose the types they like best. It’s called a mochi bar.

American mochi ice cream reminds me of the Japanese version, which is a little bigger than the American one. It was launched by a big confectionery maker more than 30 years ago and can be purchased at convenience stores in Japan.

My recipe is for a very simple dessert. A scoop of ice cream is wrapped inside a sheet of mochi made only with rice flour, sugar and water. However, because of the characteristics of rice, it has a harder texture when it becomes cold. So, to preserve the soft sticky texture even in the freezer, I use more sugar when making this sweet compared to regular daifuku red bean paste-filled mochi cakes.

Homemade mochi is so tender, smooth and soft, and the dough can be made in just five minutes. With store-bought ice cream, you need just 15 minutes or so to make a few pieces, but it looks more exotic and complicated.

If you are not accustomed to making or eating mochi, it might be a little bit tricky to handle sticky mochi by hand, but it’s very easy and relatively quick after a few tries. The key is to not hesitate to coat the mochi with katakuriko potato starch for ease of handling. You can dust off the excess starch before you wrap it over the filling.

This time I’ll introduce two versions of mochi ice cream: Plain mochi with strawberry ice cream, and coffee-flavored mochi with coffee ice cream. The plain mochi is great for any flavored ice cream — you can use green tea, passion fruit, vanilla ice cream or anything you like for the filling. Personally, I love my ice cream maker and often make ice cream from scratch, so I make caramel ice cream with a lot of rum-soaked raisins. This is only for adults, of course, and it tastes like heaven.

When you eat mochi ice cream, I recommend taking it out of the freezer five to 10 minutes before eating it so the ice cream becomes a little melted and creamy.

Ingredients: (6 servings)

Coffee ice cream mochi

60 grams shiratamako rice flour

90 grams granulated sugar

100cc brewed coffee

½ cup or more katakuriko potato starch

6 scoops coffee ice cream

Strawberry ice cream mochi

60 grams shiratamako rice flour

90 grams granulated sugar

50cc milk

50cc water

½ cup or more katakuriko potato starch

6 scoops strawberry ice cream

Directions:

1. Place parchment paper on a stainless steel tray. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out 6 balls of ice cream onto the parchment paper. Immediately place it in the freezer for an hour or until it is completely frozen and holds its shape well.

2. Mix shiratamako and sugar well in a medium sized bowl, then pour liquid ingredients into the bowl little by little and mix well until there are no chunks in the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then microwave for 1 minute. Take it out and stir well with spatula again. Microwave it for 30 seconds to finish cooking. The mochi color should be almost translucent, not white.

3. Dust a cooking board with katakuriko, then pour mochi mixture onto it with a spatula. Be careful not to touch the mochi because it is very hot at this point. Dust the mochi surface with potato starch again, then gently spread it out into a thin layer with a rolling pin. Make sure to apply enough katakuriko to the rolling pin and the mochi’s surface to prevent sticking. Cut into 6 pieces, then let cool to room temperature for about 15 minutes. The pieces of mochi can be round or square, but each should be enough to completely cover an ice cream ball.

4. Dust the excess starch off the mochi, place ice cream in the middle, then wrap up the ice cream quickly and pinch the edges to close completely. Turn the ball over so the sealed part is facing downward, place it in a sealed container to prevent it from drying out, then place it in the freezer.

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