One trend that I remember seeing a lot of were these little mochi that were shaped into baby seals. They were adorable to look at, and that was enough of a motivation for me to attempt making these. I have seen different fillings being used in these, ranging from strawberry daifuku(strawberry and red bean stuffed mochi) to even whipped cream with fresh fruit. While both of those sound delicious, I question the perishability of those fillings, which is how I came up with the idea of infusing shiro-an(white bean paste) with the flavors of a fruit. In this case specifically, I went with passionfruit, specifically, Passionfruit Inspiration, which is a passionfruit flavored chocolate. The chocolate will be melted down with the shiro-an over low heat to form a relatively simple and straightforward filling that will be used in our mochi! It is important to keep the filling chilled, though, as any additional warmth could cause the filling to get smushed out the sides and create these weird, concave looking mochi seals that look like somebody stepped on them, which is a HUGE no-no in terms of capturing the cute aesthetic of a seal.
For the other things, the mochi is made using mochiko or glutinous rice flour. I went with a relatively simple method of microwaving the mochi dough, as the alternative to that would be steaming it, which not everyone can do. I also am using activated charcoal powder and vanilla extract to make an edible sort of paint to dot on the eyes and snout of the little baby seals with. The rationale behind using vanilla extract instead of water is that the extract, being alcohol based, will simply evaporate without dampening the mochi, whereas if you use water, that affects the moisture content of the mochi and could result in it turning sticky and basically rendering them un-servable or at least really difficult to just pick up and eat. I still find it hilariously ironic how adorable a baby seal is, and how… not so adorable the adult seals are. They really do not age well, sadly. However, these baby seal mochi will never hit adulthood, because a. they’re made of mochi are therefore cannot age, and b., I doubt they will last more than 5 days before being eaten. What I love about using passionfruit for the filling of these is that it adds a pleasant tartness and contrast that keeps the flavor profile fun – mochi on its own can be simple and kind of one note in terms of the sweetness, so passionfruit gives an acidity and tartness that you would never expect in mochi!
Makes 8 baby seal mochi:
For the filling:
40g Passionfruit Inspiration
a pinch of salt
In a pot, reduce everything together while stirring over low heat until a thick paste forms. Refrigerate the paste until cold to the touch, then divide into 8 portions.
For the mochi:
3/4 cups mochiko(can substitute up to 1/4 with shiratamako!)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cups water
Potato or cornstarch
In a heatproof and microwave-safe bowl, mix together the mochiko, sugar, and water. Cover with cling wrap, and poke holes in the wrap. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir the mochi. Return to the microwave for another minute, then stir again. Then microwave for another 30 seconds. Pour onto a nonstick surface lined with potato or cornstarch and knead into a ball. Divide into 8 even portions.
Place the filling into each piece of mochi, and pinch together the ends tightly to enclose the filling in the mochi. Shape into an ovular shape. Using either scissors or a small knife, cut the thinner end and the sides to form a tail and flippers. Brush with more starch so that those parts will not stick back to the mochi.
1/2 tsp activated charcoal powder
1 tsp vanilla extract(can substitute with any clear alcohol!)
Mix to form edible “paint”. Using the smaller end of a chopstick, or a toothpick, paint on the eyes and snout for the seals to finish.