Monday, November 29, 2010

Daifuku Love and The Journey Back

I practically clapped my hands when I saw it. That innocuous little bag on the bottom shelf at the grocery store, labeled glutinous rice flour. I snatched a bag and contemplated grabbing a second. You don't know how long and hard I search for this stuff. I check every new grocery store I step into. At this point, you're probably shaking your head and thinking, 'Rebecca, chill. It's flour. And weird flour at that.' Bear with me here.
My daifuku making work space. This is messy business, so prepare to get your hands dirty.
I've developed a thing for Japanese desserts fairly recently. And glutinous rice flour, also know as Mochiko, is the primary ingredient in many Japanese desserts, first and foremost, mochi. Mochi is just a glutinous rice cake made by pounding rice into a paste and molding it into a shape. It looks something like this. I have a few blocks of this type of mochi and will be playing with it at a later date. The other type of mochi is soft, and made with mochiko and water on a stove or in a microwave. 

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to make. I've made some fairly disgusting things with mochiko in the past, and I wanted to redeem myself. Finally, I settled on daifuku, little packages of sweet mochi traditionally filled with red bean paste (anko) or strawberries. But because I have a thing for pumpkin, and I found an awesome recipe, my filling was pumpkin. 
Cooking up the filling. It tastes like pumpkin pie. 
Let me tell you, this process is labor intensive. And sticky. Very sticky. To me, it was worth it. I'm glad my boyfriend was there to help me or it would have taken even longer. It is incredibly, incredibly important to keep everything well dusted with potato starch, or corn starch or something. 
Sticky sticky. 
If you've never tried mochi...well, I can't guarantee you'll like it. I love it, but I'll be the first to say the texture is weird. It's soft and a little bit'll have to try for yourself. I think it's worth the time if you can get ahold of the ingredients. 
The final product! Aren't they cute?

So. I was all ready to bring these back to school to share with my friends. When suddenly, an hour away from school, we got rear ended on the highway! Yeah! My car is totaled. A police officer brought us away from the accident, but he couldn't fit everything in his car. I tried to retrieve one of the containers of daifuku, but they had gotten all smashed upon impact. My parents are bringing the rest of my stuff from the car to me on Friday. If my daifuku are salvageable, I'll report back on what my friends thought of the result. 

Pumpkin Daifuku from The Anime Blog 


  • 1 15 oz can plain pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons honey (optional)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup white sugar, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg


  • 1 1/2 cup mochi flour (mochiko is available at Asian markets as a box with a blue star)
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar (sold as baker’s sugar)
  • 1 box of katakuriko (potato starch) for dusting hands and utensils
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Some beforehand tips:

1. Dust your hands and utensils often with the katakuriko. You DO NOT want the mochi sticking to anything. This stuff is super sticky so avoid getting it on your clothes or in your hair.
2. Create a daifuku-making space before hand by setting out a large cutting board, a large spatula, a round cookie cutter (I just use a drinking glass), a butter knife, and a bowl filled with a decent amount of katakuriko for dusting. Dust the cutting board, the butter knife and the spatula generously with the katakuriko.3. Clear out your kitchen sink. Since you’ll be cooking your mochi in a large pot, you’ll need room to fill that bad boy with hot, soapy water when you’re done to prevent the mochi from hardening up in it.

4. Don’t pour unused mochi down the sink. It’ll harden up and give you much grief. Instead, clear out any remaining mochi with a handful of paper towels and pitch it in the garbage can when it’s cool.
5. Use common sense; wait for the mochi to cool enough to handle before you start to work with it.

For the FILLING:1. Blend all the filling ingredients together well in a medium size sauce pan. Set the heat to medium low and constantly stir the pumpkin mixture for 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes sticky and resembles caramel. Do not overheat the mixture or stop stirring since you might burn it, i.e. make it taste like nasty burnt pumpkin sugar.

2. Line a small cookie sheet with wax paper and drop the pumpkin by rounded teaspoons onto the covered cookie sheet. After the pumpkin has cooled somewhat, roll the drops into balls and pop the cookie sheet into the freezer for about 20 minutes or till the balls are fairly firm.

For the MOCHI:. After the filling has been in the freezer for 20 minutes start making the mochi. If you’re using food coloring, combine it with the water at this point, keeping in mind that less is more. If you’re using vanilla extract toss that in the water with the food coloring and stir it really well. Then blend the mochiko, sugar, and water together in a large pot. I used a wire whisk to make sure there weren’t any lumps in the mixture.

2. Heat the mixture on medium low heat, stirring the entire time. Once again; keep stirring and keep the heat low. After a few minutes the mochi will start to pull away from the sides of the pot. Turn off the heat and pour the mochi (I’ve always had to help the mochi out of the pot with the spatula) onto the well floured cutting board.
3. Spread the hot mochi out with the floured spatula. Try to make it an even thickness.4. Let the mochi cool until you feel it’s comfortable enough to handle. Take the pumpkin balls outta the freezer at this time. Cut a circle from the mochi sheet using the round, floured cookie cutter (upside down drinking glass). If you’re having difficulty prying the circle up from the cutting board, slip the floured butter knife under it and wiggle it free.
5. Flour your hands really well and place the circle in your palm. Take a frozen pumpkin ball and place it in the middle of the mochi circle. Fold the edges of the mochi over the ball until you’ve sealed it in. Pat the mochi gently until it forms a round cake.
6. Dust the cake lightly with katakuriko and place it on a plate. Repeat steps four and five until the filling is gone, remembering to flour your hands and utensils often. If you have leftover mochi, you can just eat it or fill it with whatever you want. Thick jam, nutella, marzipan, I dunno. You can store the daifuku in the fridge for up to a week. 


  1. First of all, boooo to your car being totaled (even though it was months ago). That sucks. I've (knock on wood) never had a car totaled but I did manage to maintain a very stupid and unlucky boyfriend for a short time. Who managed to REARend two cars within a month. Mhm. And it hurts, so I hope you didn't get injured!

    And I second you on the daifuku. It is an unusual texture but I once brought it to a presentation I was giving for a college class and every person who actually tried the daifuku liked it. So there. :) I'll be trying your recipe next time I get my hands on some mochiko! I've never had pumpkin daifuku before.

    - Eve

    1. Thanks for the comment! Haha, I can sympathize. I think pumpkin daifuku is kind of a non-traditional flavor, but I like it. Good luck, lemme know how it turns out if you make it!


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