Inspired by a recipe my dear friend kristy linked me to, I could NOT not try making some Mochi cupcakes of my own. Being a pretty die-hard fan of the real Japanese confection, I thought it would be a perfect specimen to indulge my desire to turn everything into a flavor of cupcake.
Now, Americans have already had their way with mochi by filling it with ice cream instead of the traditional sweetened bean pastes and such - a convention I whole heartedly approve of, by the way. *two-thumbs up* So me taking it a step further doesn't seem too outlandish. The difference between an American cupcake and a mochi cupcake lies simply in the choice of flour. Made with a gluten free "sweet rice flour" instead of wheat, the pastry's texture comes out much chewier. It has a distinct rice flavor that even the copious amounts of sugar and eggs can't hide. Traditional mochi is made with just rice flour and water, heated until it becomes a pliable paste which is then wrapped around the choice filling. So as a cupcake, it travels outside it's main purpose as a wrapper and becomes the foundation of the dessert.
For my mochi cupcakes, I made a "plain" cupcake and topped it with red bean paste and red bean buttercream. Inspired by a two-layer frosting technique my boyfriend documented on his month-long vacation *jealous* to Japan *also jealous*, I thought this cupcake flavor was all to appropriate to try it out on. The paste was very easy to make, thankfully, and I even got away with cheating a little bit. Following the instructions pretty much verbatim, I boiled the red beans (acquired at 99 Ranch Market - or is it Ranch 99???) for about an hour and half, drained, mixed with sugar, pureed, then reheated to evaporate the excess moisture and wow - it worked! For those of you not familiar with Red beans... I'm not really either. They're smaller than generic pinto beans, but I couldn't tell you what is distinct about their flavor. And I also can't tell you why the Japanese thought they would be good as a dessert food (beans? for dessert??), it just works. They also use lima beans in the same way, and let me tell you, they simply prove that sugar makes ANYthing taste good.
Anyway, so after the cupcakes were cooled, I made little balls of red bean paste and plopped them on top of the cupcakes and then made a buttercream frosting with the remaining paste (1/ c butter, 2 c powdered sugar + paste and a little water to thin it as necessary). I admit, I wasn't sure if buttercream would be the best with this kind of cupcake. The cake is not "light" but it's not rich either, so I was afraid that the frosting might be too sweet or creamy for the texture of the cake, but all who tasted seemed to be in favor of the combo.
With the remaining cupcakes, I made a green tea buttercream (with macha (Green Tea) powder, acquired for me on previously mentioned month-long vacation - thanks!) which was tasty, but was not nearly as cool and delicious as the double layered red bean mochi flavor. Note: no food coloring was added - all color is from the green tea powder!
But I will be continuing this line of desserts for sure. It is a unique and delicious treat that I want to share with all who either love mochi in it's true form, or have no clue what it is and need to be made aware!