Gooey butter mochi cake with hojicha sugar

So this recipe was a hybrid between St. Louis gooey butter cake and Hawaiian butter mochi. For context, a gooey butter cake is either a yeasted cake or a yellow cake that has a TON of butter in it, and is baked with a cream cheese topping that is similar to a cheesecake. Between the topping and the butter content, the cake is usually really dense and buttery. Similarly, butter mochi is basically a baked version of Japanese mochi, which are rice cakes. Butter mochi is made with a ton of butter and usually evaporated milk(I used heavy cream for this recipe), resulting in a super fudgy, rich, and decadent cake. I figured, why not make the gooey butter cake, but using butter mochi as the base instead? The end result was this super buttery cake with a nice cheesecake-like layer on top.

Hilariously enough, this recipe wound up being gluten-free, which was not necessarily my intention when coming up with it, but rather, a byproduct of me using butter mochi, which happens to be gluten-free, as the base. Growing up in Torrance, California, aka the biggest Japanese suburb in America, I was raised on mochi, mochiko, and almost all things you can do with either or. So butter mochi is a very familiar thing to me – my older sister would make it all the time growing up, usually for fundraisers for either her swim team or the Interact club at our high school. What I love about combining butter mochi specifically with the gooey butter cake is that it really does honor both traditions. As both desserts are super butter-forward, they organically compliment one another. To top off my gooey butter mochi cake with, we have hojicha sugar.

Hojicha is a type of toasted Japanese green tea(the green tea being called sencha, not to be confused with matcha). Sencha, unlike matcha, is less bitter and more floral and mild in flavor. That being said, when you toast sencha to make hojicha, those warming notes come forward and it almost tastes like a roasted grain! By blending freshly roasted hojicha with Okinawan black sugar, which is rich and earthy in flavor, you have this powdered sugar that adds a layer of complexity to whatever you sprinkle it on! In the case of this recipe, I figured while the usage of brown butter in the butter mochi gives the cake a nice nuttiness, this hojicha sugar really accentuates that while also adding another layer of flavor as a whole!

For the butter mochi:
1 1/4 cups mochiko
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, browned(use 2 sticks if you want extra gooeyness!)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Mix and pour into a parchment lined 9×13 inch pan. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up.

For the topping:
8oz cream cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Whip cream cheese with sugar until softened first(yes I know I didn’t do that in the video but I paid for it later by having to strain the cream cheese mixture three times!). Whip in the eggs, one at a time. Finish with the vanilla and salt. Pour your topping batter over the chilled butter mochi.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes. Cool down and finish with hojicha sugar.

For the hojicha sugar:
1 tbsp sencha leaves
3 tbsp Okinawa black sugar
a pinch of salt

Toast the sencha leaves on low heat for 3 minutes while stirring. Cool down. Break the black sugar into smaller pieces. Place the sugar into the spice grinder with the salt and tea leaves. Blitz into a fine powder. Store in an airtight container to finish.

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