POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jun 9, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 9:56 p.m. HST, Jun 24, 2010
At a time of loss and sadness, you know what you need? Mochi cake.
Beth An Nishijima of Nori's Saimin & Snacks in Hilo knows this by the amount of her Chocolate Mochi Cake ordered for funerals.
"The one thing they make sure they order is the mochi," Nishijima says. "It goes well with tea and coffee."
It also goes well with water or juice or nothing. Chewier than a cake but not as fudgy as a brownie, a slice of mochi cake is "bouncy," as Nishijima describes it.
Joyce Akagi called for the recipe. She'd seen Nishijima make it a few years ago on "Two Skinny Chefs," the television show she hosted with chef Chai Chaowasaree.
Nori's has been open for 27 years and Nishijima has been making the cake for 25, shortly after she was given a batch as a gift. "Someone gave us one of those flat sheet cake pans and I ate the whole pan."
She found a recipe but it wasn't quite right—the ingredients, she says, were "cheapy stuff." So she changed it up to include butter, coconut milk and eggs. "Just a few little tweaks and adjustments," she says. "I just wanted it a little richer and more chocolatey and a little bit more moist."
Demand has never faded. Nishijima still serves 100 pieces a day, much of it to visitors buying in bulk for omiyage.
Over the years, she's learned that her cake seems to have eternal life. People wrap it and refrigerate or freeze it, or sometimes mail it to relatives. A little microwaving and, "It's brand new, it tastes like you just made it. ... Warm it up and it gets bouncy again, and moist."
I made this cake for the newsroom food table for the last day of the old Star-Bulletin and the first day of the new Star-Advertiser. I can report that it is indeed bouncy—and lightly chocolatey and really nice.
By happy coincidence, I overcooked my cake, so I can tell you that if you do this, your corner crusts will get quite hard and chewy, but some people actually asked for those pieces, so no harm done.
This recipe is easily doubled, if you're baking for say, a funeral. Or halve the recipe if you just want a pan for yourself.
4-1/2 cups mochiko
4-1/2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
1 cup evaporated milk
5 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 stick butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two 4-by-9-inch loaf pans. Combine mochiko, sugar, cocoa powder and baking soda.
In a separate bowl combine coconut milk, evaporated milk, eggs, vanilla extract and butter. Add to dry mixture and stir until batter is smooth. Pour batter into loaf pans and bake 75 to 90 minutes, until center does not jiggle at all.
Cool and cut into pieces with plastic knife.
Nutritional information unavailable.