Chewy Inspiration

Like most people who are strangely addicted to making up recipes and experimenting in the kitchen, I occasionally get hit hard by inspiration.  So hard that an idea doesn’t even make it into my notebook.

Cinnamon hat!
Cinnamon hat!

I don’t remember how, exactly, I got this idea. I remember I was brushing my teeth. Boring idle tooth-brushing time apparently somehow made me think of mochi cake. Or maybe I thought of pumpkin. I’m not exactly sure which came first to be honest.

Hat fell down :(
Hat fell down :(

I wasn’t really sure what the best way to incorporate pumpkin into the recipe would be, but I remembered I had made the apple mochi cakes by substituting applesauce for half of the melted butter so I decided to try the same with pumpkin puree.

Mmm, nibs.
Mmm, nibs.

I think it worked out quite nicely – the cakes came out with an orangey-yellow tinge and are yummy and chewy, just like a good mochi cake should be!

Oh my!
Oh my!

I used the traditional blend of every spice possible to compliment the sweet pumpkin flavor – cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, plus I threw some allspice berries in the milk before condensing it. Honestly you could probably skip the condensing step in a mochi cake recipe, I barely cooked this batch down. I don’t know why the original recipe called for evaporated milk.

Chewy, pumpkin-y, slightly spicy - what more could you want?
Chewy, pumpkin-y, slightly spicy - what more could you want?

I also busted out the cacao nibs for a little chocolatey crunch on top. They really do provide such a nice textural contrast with the wonderfully chewy mochi and my love for pumpkin and chocolate together is well documented.

Still one of my favorite things to make.
Still one of my favorite things to make.

Pumpkin Mochi Cakes

  1. 7-8 oz. milk
  2. 3-4 allspice berries
  3. 2 oz. pureed pumpkin (canned is fine, just make sure it’s plain, none of that pie filling nonsense)
  4. 2 oz. butter, melted & cooled
  5. 1 cup sugar
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  8. 1 tsp baking powder
  9. Pinch each ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger & cloves
  10. 8 oz. Mochiko
  11. Ground cacao nibs, for sprinkling

Place the milk and allspice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for a few minutes – you want to condense the milk slightly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes to infuse the allspice flavor into the milk. Measure out 6 oz. of the milk, discarding any extra along with the allspice. Chill while you prepare the rest of the batter.

Preheat the oven to 350. In a med-large mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, butter and sugar until it’s of an even consistency with no lumps. Whisk in the milk, then the eggs and vanilla. Once they are fully incorporated, whisk in the baking powder and spices all at once, then gradually mix in the Mochiko. Continue whisking until the batter is completely smooth. Pour into lined muffin tins, sprinkle with cacao nibs and bake for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean. Allow to cool for a couple minutes in the tins, then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Serve at room temperature. Makes 12 regular-sized cupcakes.

I brought some of these in to class the same day I brought the madeleines. The response among my classmates seemed to be positive. Lots of mochi fans in my class I guess, and I do find that mochi cake “virgins” tend to be pleasantly surprised by the texture of these awesome baked goodies. I shared them with the chefs as well and chef told me he probably wouldn’t buy it in a bakery because it wasn’t something he was used to (exactly the opposite of my philosophy when it comes to buying foods but I digress). However, as he pointed out immediately after, he DID eat the whole thing. You can’t not love mochi cake I guess.


  1. You are the Queen of Ideas! Thank goodness you practice good dental hygiene so we can all benefit from your boring idle tooth-brushing time:)

  2. Wonder if Whole Foods carries mochiko flour? Don’t think I have ever seen it there. We’re all in a pumpkin frame of mind right now- I’d love to try your unusual recipe.

  3. So glad to see you posting these – they sounded wonderful on twitter! Mmm, pumpkin & cacao nibs… The minute I remember milk at the grocery store, I’m totally making mochi cakes!

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