butter mochi

DSC_6874 Butter mochi! The subject of my third and final installment of this little series on Hawaiian foods (parts 1 and 2 were on ahi poke and Spam musubi). I love all the ways that Hawaii is a blend of Asian and Western influences — when it comes to food, it can only mean good things. For instance, I’m not the biggest fan of traditional Asian mochi, like the Chinese nian gao with red bean paste, because it’s a bit too chewy and bland for me. But when amped up with more sugar and a whole (!) stick of butter, the Hawaiian version becomes pretty delicious.

Here is the recipe, below, which I got from Bowl #2’s Hawaii friend’s mom (which seems to be happening a lot).   This is his family’s prize recipe — so, in retrospect, it was really extremely kind of him to share it with me.  He makes this for every Hawaii party he throws on the mainland, and has jazzed it up with mango, bourbon, coconut flakes, you name it.  So, though I may not have the tradition behind me, he does — and it definitely, definitely shows.  This butter mochi is serious.  The crispy edge pieces are my absolute favorite and unbelievably addictive.  (Be warned, though, that the edges are by far the best straight out of the oven, and though they will stay nice and crisp at room temperature, if refrigerated, they will become chewy.  I won’t say whether that’s an instruction to eat every single edge piece in one sitting … or whether I personally did that.)  Once refrigerated, you can go all out and reheat pieces by panfrying in a skillet to regain a bit of crispness.  You might as well — this isn’t health food!

Butter Mochi
2 cups milk
1 can (15 oz) coconut milk
1 stick (113 grams or 4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
2 3/4 cups (16 oz) mochiko flour
2 tsp baking powder

1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
2. Whisk together milk, coconut milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, sift together sugar, mochiko flour, and baking powder.
3. Gently mix together wet and dry ingredients until fully incorporated.  There may be a few lumps, but if mixed for a few more seconds should dissolve on their own.
4. Pour into a lightly greased 9×12 baking dish.
5. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees, until brown at the edges and golden brown on top. Sometimes it needs extra time, especially if you like the edges to be particularly crispy. The batter will also rise significantly, but will settle after cooling.

Notes:  Our friend suggested several tablespoons of bourbon, and also noted that he sometimes uses coconut flakes (in which case he decreases the amount of sugar.) I also read myself that some like to omit coconut milk altogether (since it tends to be quite rich) in favor of using all milk with a few teaspoons of coconut extract. Lastly, I used whole milk, but might recommend skim, since others have noted that it doesn’t lessen the taste. Probably a wise choice in light of the butter.

Edit (12.27.13): Over Christmas we made a quarter of this recipe in two miniature pie pans (like these, available on Amazon) and loved it. (This way every piece is an edge piece! YES.) I used these proportions: 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp coconut milk, 1/4 stick (2 tbsp) butter, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp white sugar, 1/2 cup mochiko flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder. Divide batter between pie pans and bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown on top. It will dome like crazy but will settle down just fine once out of the oven, and should not spill over. I also used almond milk the second time, and added a bit of whiskey — both did excellently.


  1. says:

    June 9, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    cynthia!!! i am so stoked to have found your hawaii series!! I am MAD about hawaiian/asian food, too – my plan is to make spam musubi for my dad for father’s day! mmmm love this butter mochi and i want to TRY it! xoxo

  2. Vina says:

    July 30, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Tried this and it turned out great! Made them in mini-muffin pans and had enough crispy edges per bite

    • tworedbowls says:

      August 1, 2014 at 9:53 am

      Hi Vina! Most brands of coconut milk I’ve come across sell 13.6 ounce cans, which was why I used about 3 ounces in the quartered recipe (1/4 cup is 2 ounces and 2 tbsp is 1 ounce). It’s technically a little less than a quarter of a can, but I didn’t find that it made too much of a difference for me. Hope that helps!

      Also, I just saw your comment above — I’M SO GLAD that it worked out well for you!! That makes my day! Making them in mini muffin pans is genius. Crispy edges galore 🙂

  3. Sandra Akina says:

    September 11, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Aloha kaka I aka!!
    We always called this Hanabuttah mochi because before it’s cooked it looks like hupe (runny snot) hahaha!!

    • tworedbowls says:

      December 5, 2014 at 9:03 am

      Hi Jeanette! You may want to look for “sweet rice flour” or “glutinous rice flour” — I know that the H-Mart on 32nd Street carries sacks of sweet rice flour, and I believe Hong Kong Supermarket in Chinatown does as well. Also, Bob’s Red Mill makes smaller bags of sweet rice flour, though I think that’s a bit pricier, and you might be able to find that in a Key Foods supermarket. Hope that helps!

  4. m says:

    May 22, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Ooh mochi. How can I adapt your mochi recipe to make “Bubbies” mochi ice cream? (Another sensation from Hawaii!)

    • tworedbowls says:

      May 22, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      Hi m!!! For Bubbies-style mochi ice cream, I think you would actually want to go with this mochi recipe: http://tworedbowls.com/2014/02/03/red-bean-mochi/ and instead of the red bean paste in that recipe, use balls of ice cream! That mochi recipe is more pliable and stretchy so you can fold it around ice cream. Let me know how it goes if you try it!!

  5. says:

    January 26, 2016 at 12:49 am

    I’m going to try making these for Chinese/Lunar New Year. I love butter mochi, so exciting. Has anyone tried this recipe using skim milk or almond milk?

  6. says:

    April 3, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    I made the full recipe two days ago. I got distracted and left out the butter. I did put in 5 eggs, 1 can of high-quality coconut milk (no additives) and 2 cups of 2% milk. It tasted like it is supposed to taste, and some of my friends liked it better with the much lower fat content.

    Omitting the butter may be why my edges did not stay crisp.

  7. Dave says:

    May 16, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    I think you have an error in your recipe. A 16oz box of mochi flour is about 4 cups by volume. I think you mixed up weight ounces and fluid ounces. Having made a few recipes I’m sure you meant 16oz not 16floz.

    • tworedbowls says:

      May 16, 2016 at 11:17 pm

      Hi Dave,

      Thank you so much for catching that! You are so right, that was a typo. In my experience mochiko flour is a bit heavier than all-purpose and comes out to about 2 3/4 cups or thereabouts — which is what I meant to type. Thanks again for the heads-up!

  8. Christine says:

    November 2, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Thanks for this recipe! Because we have so many different sizes of butter in the store, how much exactly is one stick of butter in this recipe — 250g?

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