Cold Brew-Butter Mochi Crumb Cakes

This recipe came about because my extremely talented friend, Ahran, launched her own product, being vanilla-flavored cold brew concentrate, with Coba coffee, and she was generous enough to gift me some of it! I actually enjoyed the product quite a bit, because you have the sweet fragrance of vanilla against the bitter richness of the cold brew, so I figured, why not bake with it? Since it’s a cold brew concentrate, the consistency is very syrupy, and can be added to a variety of baked goods without compromising or changing the texture of a dough or batter too dramatically. And before anyone thinks this is alcohol, cold brew is coffee, not beer. On one hand, I get it, since the word “brew” is so heavily associated with beer since beer is made and served at breweries, but on the other hand, the term “cold brew” has been floating around for so long now that it still comes as a surprise that so many people don’t fully get what it is. For a better explanation, cold brew is coffee that is steeped at room temperature for about half a day, then strained and cooled down. This process results in coffee that is less acidic, because it was brewed at a colder temperature. So compared to normal coffee, which is brewed quickly with hot water, cold brew takes longer to brew, but has a more enjoyable flavor profile – a lot of people can drink cold brew black, compared to normal black coffee, because it is not as bitter or unpleasant!

That whole lesson on cold brew aside, this recipe came about because I really wanted to use the cold brew concentrate in a way where the coffee is balanced. I have had brown butter lattes in the past, and I love how the nuttiness of the brown butter contrasts the coffee itself, and figured that would be a great route to take. I thought almost immediately about going the butter mochi route because butter mochi gives coffee everything it inherently lacks, being richness, fat, and sugar. For those who have never had it before, butter mochi is a Hawaiian snack, made with glutinous rice flour, lots of sugar, lots of butter, and it is baked like a cake. Compared to normal mochi, which is made with the glutinous rice and then steamed, butter mochi tastes more like a Western cake, but is chewier and almost gooey in the middle. Made more popular recently are butter mochi muffins, which take butter mochi batter, add a lot more leavening to it so that they are soft and fluffy, and that gets baked off into muffins. What I love about butter mochi, besides the fact that it is gluten-free, is that it is so decadent and fulfilling. It is the kind of dessert that gives you a hug as you eat it. For my take on a butter mochi muffin, I am using Ahran’s vanilla-infused cold brew concentrate to contrast some of the cloyingly sweet aspects of the batter, and folding in a crumb made from roasted white chocolate and toasted sesame seeds, to add a little texture, but also since the roasted white chocolate, brown butter, and coffee play off of each other really well. If you are a cold brew-lover, you will love these muffins. And even if you aren’t, you probably will still like these, just because the coffee adds a pleasant aroma, and tones down the sweetness, making these butter mochi easy to eat in the dozens.

Makes 12 butter mochi crumb cakes:
For the white chocolate-sesame crumbs:
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup white or black sesame seeds
a pinch of salt

Roast the white chocolate and sesame on a lined sheet tray at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Then in a food processor, pulse the two together with salt until combined into a fine crumb. Cool down and wait until the rest of the batter is assembled to use.

For the butter mochi:
1 cup milk
1 tbsp vinegar
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
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1oz vanilla cold brew concentrate
A pinch of salt
White chocolate-sesame crumbs*

Mix the milk with vinegar first, just to create your own buttermilk. In a bowl, add in all of the ingredients, minus the prepared crumbs, and mix everything together to form your batter. Line 12 muffin tins with either cupcake liners or oil, and divide the batter amongst each tin. Fill each tin up about halfway full, then sprinkle in half of your crumbs amongst the cakes. Then layer in more batter, and top them off with more crumbs. Bake the muffins at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

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