Mochi donuts are a hybrid between cake donuts and chewy mochi, Japanese rice cakes made from glutinous rice, also known as polished sticky rice. Mochi donuts typically use gluten-free tapioca flour or glutinous rice flour. While some recipes include all-purpose flour, they can also be made entirely gluten-free. So where did Mochi donuts originate?
Mochi is considered a celebratory food, served in the Japanese New Year soup ozoni and in kagami mochi (mirror cakes). During sakura (cherry blossom) season, anko-filled mochi are wrapped in cherry leaves. Around the world, regions with many Japanese immigrants have their own takes on mochi. In Hawaii, butter mochi is a baked treat made with sweet rice flour and coconut milk. Mochi donuts were created in Japan before becoming popularized in the United States by way of Hawaii.
In this guide, we will take a look at everything there is to know about Mochi donuts. These donuts are unique and delicious within the wider popularity of donuts, and this article will tell you why. Read on to find out more.
What Do Mochi Donuts Taste Like?
Mochi donuts have a light, bouncy, chewy texture due to the tapioca flour (or glutinous rice flour, depending on the variety). Like regular donuts, mochi donuts typically feature classic, buttery vanilla dough. From there, you can glaze the donuts; Japanese flavors like matcha, pandan, and ube are common. You can find all the ingredients to make and flavor mochi donuts at an Asian grocery store.
The glutinous rice flour produces a denser, chewier texture compared to recipes that use tapioca starch. The tapioca starch will instead give a fluffy, lighter texture. Some recipes even call for a combination of the two to produce something in between, so it’s really up to you to decide what you’d prefer.
As for the icing, the options are endless. You’ll find that most recipes use a basic sugar glaze made from icing sugar and milk. From there, you can add on other flavors like vanilla, matcha, strawberry or chocolate. Most places that make mochi donuts like adding coloring to the icing to give the desserts an aesthetic appeal.
Origins of Mochi Donuts
The origin of this tasty delight isn’t super clear, but we know that the story involves a few countries, i.e. Japan, America, and Brazil. The popular Mister Donut global chain first created the signature Pon de Ring in 2003.
Although the chain originated from the US, this creation came from Mister Donut in Japan. The dessert is made up of 8 dough balls connected to form a ring. Pon de Ring draws its inspiration from Pao de Queijo, a famous Brazilian cheese bread that has a similar chewy texture to mochi donuts.
This modern Japanese dessert has become a worldwide sensation, with shops popping up in Asia, Europe and America. However, the hype for these yummy treats first started in the US when Liliha Bakery in Hawaii began making poi mochi donuts from the taro root.
MoDo Hawaii then opened a store in Mitsuwa Marketplace in Waikiki sometime in 2017, drawing crowds of people desperate to try the famed dessert. With the cute designs, delicious taste, and America’s natural obsession with doughnuts, the dessert did not take long to become popular nationwide.
The snack first gained popularity on the West Coast before taking over states like Philadelphia, Boston, and NYC. Most of these places have experimented with taste, texture, and design, providing people with all sorts of options. The popularity was further enhanced with the possibility of mochi donuts delivery to homes.
Pon de rings are different from the ubiquitous Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ Donuts because of their characteristically chewy and stretchy texture. This textural delight comes from glutinous rice flour, a common ingredient in Japanese desserts such as the red bean daifuku. Some recipes also use silken tofu to create a fluffy yet chewy bite.
Regular doughnuts use wheat flour instead, giving them a soft and fluffy bread-like texture. They are also commonly deep-fried, but you’ll find that the glutinous rice variety can be deep-fried or baked, depending on your preference. Mochi donuts also contain about half the calories of regular doughnuts, making them a much healthier alternative. An added plus is that they are also gluten-free.
Mochi donuts on their own have a subtle, sweet taste. However, if you’ve had this dessert before, you’ll know that the main attraction is its signature chewy texture. Its outside is crispy after being fried or baked, making it complement the chewy center well.
Ultimately, the taste of these delicious snacks depends on the icing. The most common option is a classic sugar glaze, which tastes sweet and has a sticky, gooey texture. Icing flavors for this snack is often a hybrid between American and Japanese favorites: matcha, cinnamon and sugar, black sesame, chocolate with rainbow sprinkles.
You can purchase Mochiko rice flour from any Asian supermarket or order it online from Amazon. But if you can’t get hold of Mochiko rice flour, Shiratamako works as a good alternative.
However, take note that Shiratamako is usually more expensive than Mochiko. It would help if you kept in mind that using too much Mochiko can make your food gum-like, so be careful not to overdo it. This is due to short-grain rice having a higher content of starch vs other types of rice.
Also, be careful not to confuse sweet glutinous rice flour with rice flour because the latter is made from ground long to medium grain rice. Using rice flour will give you a very different consistency because of the lower starch content.
How To Make Mochi Donuts
There are two main methods of making this guilty pleasure of a dessert. Frying is the conventional method, whereas baking is another method that is considered a healthier alternative. Another vital part of making these snacks is the glazing.
Let’s look into more detail about each process below.
Frying mochi donuts is a quicker and easier way of preparing these tasty treats but may not be the healthiest. Start by mixing the milk, sugar, and glutinous rice flour, then add the beaten egg and melted butter until it turns into a sticky dough. If it’s too wet, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of flour. Knead the dough with your hands for 5-6 minutes and divide it into smaller pieces to form the balls with your hands.
Place the eight balls on a square baking sheet and connect them to form a ring. If you don’t have the time, you could opt to use a piping bag instead to make your mochi donuts. Dab some water on the dough balls using your hands or a pastry brush to make sure they stick together. Heat the oil between 168ºC and 177ºC.
Drop the dough in the oil, submerging it for 1-2 minutes. Then, flip onto the other side and fry until golden brown. You can start to peel off the baking sheet while it’s frying slowly. Once done, transfer to a wire rack to drain off the excess oil. Be careful to get the temperature of the oil just right. If the oil is too hot, it can make the dough brown too soon, producing a crispier texture.
Conversely, a very low temperature would take longer to cook, causing the dough to absorb too much oil in the process. We recommend using a cooking thermometer to ensure that the temperature is at its optimum throughout the deep-frying process.
If you’re more health-conscious, baked mochi donuts will be a healthier option. The steps for this method aren’t too different from deep-frying; however, it will take slightly more time, approximately 75 minutes in total.
Making the mochi donuts’ glaze is probably the most fun part because you can go all out and be creative. The typical glaze used is a basic sugar glaze made with icing sugar and milk. But if you’re looking to be more innovative, you could add some flavoring and coloring to that base.
Typical flavors include matcha, chocolate and strawberry. All you need to do is add matcha powder, chocolate pieces or fresh strawberries to the sugar glaze and blend it in. Once done, you can use matcha powder, rainbow sprinkles or freeze-dried pieces of strawberries as decoration.
What Exactly Is Mochi?
Traditional mochi is a Japanese dessert made of whole rice grains or glutinous rice that is beaten with a wooden mallet until it becomes a flexible paste. There are several types of mochi, which all contain differing ingredients.
Here are two main types of mochi donuts made using different kinds of flour:
- 1. Pon de ring donuts: These light, pull-apart donuts use tapioca flour. The popular pon de ring style gets its name from pao de queijo, a Brazilian cheese puff that also utilizes tapioca flour.
- 2. Glutinous rice flour donuts: The denser United States mochi donut recipe style utilizes glutinous rice flour (also called sweet rice flour).
Because mochi has such a soft, slightly gummy texture, it is considered a choking hazard if not eaten properly. Mochi needs to be chewed and not swallowed whole like many people do as they eat it for the first time.
We’ve listed out the various types of traditional mochi that you can add to your dessert menu.
Different Types of Mochi:
- Daifuku – The most commonly found type of mochi is called daifuku, which is round in shape and filled with a sweetened bean paste and served as a nice cold treat.
- Sakura – Also shaped into a round ball, sakura (cherry blossom) mochi has a lumpier texture because it contains some whole rice grains. Sakura mochi gets its name by being served with a salted sakura leaf.
- Warabi – Mostly found in western Japan, warabi mochi is made from warabi starch, which comes from a type of fern. This mochi is translucent and has a soft, jelly texture.
- Hanabira – Often referred to as “flower petal mochi,” hanabira mochi is rolled out into a small circle, which is folded in half and served with white bean paste, miso, and a candied stick of gobo burdock root.
- Hishimochi – Cut into a diamond shape, hishimochi is a colorfully layered mochi treat that symbolizes good health, long life, fertility, and new life.
- Botamochi or Ohagi – Owning two different names, botamochi or ohagi is another kind of mochi rice ball that contains both chunky and smooth red bean paste inside.
- Kirimochi or Marumochi – Kirimochi is unsweetened mochi that is formed into rectangular blocks and packaged into a hard and dried form, which can be used later for cooking.
- Kusamochi – A mixture of sticky rice and yomogi, a Japanese mugwort plant, kusamochi is green in color, filled with red bean paste, and shaped like a flower.
- Kuzumochi – Made from the starch of the Japanese arrowroot plant, kuzumochi is a popular summertime treat that is clear in color and mixed with whole red beans or topped with sweetened red bean paste.
The original pounding process of crafting mochi started with individuals in East Asia who used glutinous rice as the main ingredient to make the soft, flexible dessert. Rice has been grown in China and Japan for thousands of years, and making mochi was seen as a delicacy to be used at religious gatherings and offered to the gods in Shinto rituals that were performed by the aristocracy.
It is interesting to think that such an older dessert is still popular to this day, and Mochi donuts continue to grow in popularity across the world.
Where To Find
When looking for Mochi donuts, be sure to check out these popular places in various American cities.
Mochi Donuts NYC
Mochi Donuts Las Vegas
Mochi Donuts Chicago
Mochi Donuts Orlando
Mochi Donuts Dallas
How To Store
Like most pastries, it’s best to eat mochi donuts while they’re still fresh. However, if you cannot devour them right away, you could store them in an air-tight container at room temperature. This should last up to 2-3 days.