Whenever people visit St. Louis, I direct them to the city’s wikipedia page, where—among other treasures—you can find information about provel cheese, breakfast slingers, and (my personal favorite) gooey butter cake, a regional delicacy that tastes exactly like it sounds. I love how specific food can be, and how all the places you travel demonstrate their personalities through their famous fare. Hawaii is, of course, no different; in fact, visitors from the mainland might feel as though they’ve landed in a foreign country when they first encounter our local staples. By far, my favorite treat—to eat, to make, to force on strangers—is Hawaiian-style butter mochi. Perhaps you can identify the common denominator.
Butter mochi is a distant cousin to the Japanese mochi I first encountered years ago, encasing ice cream, in the frozen foods section of a California grocery. Essentially a cake made from glutinous rice flour, this style of mochi lends itself to a variety of preparations. The Hawaiian version is akin to a baked custard, heavy on egg, milk(s) of your choice, and—don’t forget the—butter. I used coconut milk in this recipe as this is a flavor commonly found in butter mochi, often accented by sweetened coconut flakes.
We brown the butter here because, when in doubt, we brown the butter here; I live for the slightly nutty dimension it adds to the finished bake, a subtle accent to the macadamia nuts. I candied said nuts and sprinkled them on top of my mochi, which I cut out with cookie cutters (I brushed the mochi tops with a little simple syrup first to make sure the nuts stayed in place). More traditionally, the mochi is cut into squares, but I’m a sucker for aesthetics. You could also toast the nuts and fold them into the bake–less hassle and assuredly as tasty.
The Hawaiian word for delicious is “ono,” and that’s what your guests will be screeching if you serve this to them after dinner. On a side note, when Buttertooth was but a mere twinkle in our collective eye, we thought about naming the blog “Ono They Didn’t” with a cutesy “Oh, yes they did” subtitle right below. Really dodged a bullet there, huh.
- 10 tablespoons butter (1 stick + 2 tablespoons)
- 1 pound mochiko rice flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 3 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 12 oz can coconut milk
- 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- In a skillet over medium heat, cook the butter until brown: this will take at least 8-10 minutes, and you’ll be able to tell that the butter is browned when it smells nutty and brown bits are visible at the bottom of the skillet. Allow to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Whisk together the rice flour, baking soda, and sugar in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the cooled brown butter, eggs, coconut milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla until fully incorporated.
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well.
- Pour batter into a 9” by 13” baking dish and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is golden and mochi is brown around the edges.
- Serve warm or at room temperature—cut into desired shapes and sprinkle with candied nuts.
- Store wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator. Warm in the microwave or allow to come to room temperature before serving again.
- In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, toast nuts for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugar and mix well.
- Continue cooking for about 2 minutes, until the sugar is completely melted.
- Remove from heat to a parchment-lined plate. Allow to cool before sprinkling.