i’m so excited to share this recipe with you today, it’s delicious and subtle, and the perfect thing to break up frigid winter days. i think i’m preaching to the choir when i say that peanut butter is pretty good at doing that! the first time i was acquainted with mochi was in the form of ice cream at the grocery store when frank and i were dating. frank was a big fan, so that night we went home with a box of bubbies mochi ice cream. the mochi was a smooth dough that enveloped the entire hunk of ice cream, making it the ultimate ice cream sandwich - it was such a treat! from that point on i was hooked, but i had never seen many recipes utilizing mochi until i opened the beautiful pages of cynthia’s book.
again, i’m probably preaching to the choir, when i express to you how undeniably lovely cynthia’s work is. i became a big admirer of her blog, two red bowls, back in the day (circa 2014 maybe?). we were both living not too far from each other in brooklyn, and i remember just diving in to her beautiful world. i still continue to find myself mesmerized by her ability to weave food, photography, culture, and most importantly human connection into everything she does. it’s something so rare to be able to do with such honesty.
cynthia’s book, much like her blog, is beautifully woven with recipes that pull from her chinese heritage as well as her upbringing in the south. you’ll find recipes from all sections of her book that intertwine and honor her culture. most notably (at least to me) her cheddar-scallion biscuits (which i made for thanksgiving and are out of this world delicious), a traditional swirl bread with matcha glaze, mochi pancakes (!!), kimchi quesadillas, shoyu poke, and i’m still troubleshooting a gluten-free version of her black sesame chocolate loaf!
but let’s talk peanut mochi cake because i’ve been wondering why the heck i’ve never baked with sweet rice flour until now. it’s naturally gluten-free and gives you the most springy soft texture - win, win! and this recipe couldn’t be easier to make. while cynthia mentioned a few different fillings, i went with peanut butter. when i was flipping through her book, what drew me in the most to this recipe was the perfect little dollops of peanut butter filling. the peanut butter mixture is dolloped across half the batter, then topped with the remaining batter. so when it’s all said and done, you get delightful mochi squares filled with creamy peanut butter. a dream situation, really. they’re the ideal dessert, that is satisfying, yet doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re on a sugar high. this, like every other recipe i’ve made from cynthia’s book, will leave you feeling just plain happy.
peanut butter mochi cake | gf (with a dairy-free option*)
from: A Common Table, by: Cynthia Chen McTernan
| makes one 8-inch square cake |
6 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 cups (225 grams) sweet rice flour, like mochiko blue star
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil or other neutral oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
replace the 1 cup of whole milk with full-fat coconut milk
preheat the oven to 350°F and line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. in a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. set aside.
in a medium bowl, combine the the sweet rice flour, milk, sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. you don’t need to worry about overworking the batter and making the cake dense, because sweet rice flour doesn’t contain gluten - mochi cake is dense to begin with! small lumps will appear in the batter at first, but they will dissipate as you whisk.
pour half the batter into the prepared baking dish. drop small spoonfuls of the peanut butter filling evenly across the batter, then pour the remaining batter over the peanut butter filling. bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
while the mochi is baking, place the peanuts in a food processor or blender and pulse until crumbly. remove the mochi from the oven, and sprinkle the crushed peanuts across the top, then return the cake to the oven and bake until the center bounces back when pressed, an additional 15-20 minutes. enjoy warm or at room temperature. the mochi will slice much more cleanly when cooled, but there’s nothing like enjoying a piece warm from the oven.