Oh man, it’s been not-enough-hours-in-the-day days around here lately. Most of the time it is safe to ignore me when I say that because I spend about half my waking hours huffing to B2 about the “million things I have to do” and then the other half of those hours on the couch doing zero of those things until it is too late to do them, but for once, it actually has been a little nonstop from one thing to the next. One of them is a very good one, though, and it’s that one of my good friends, source of indispensable life advice, and surrogate jie jie has been in town with her new (!) and awesome fiancé! They’ve been staying with us and I couldn’t be happier about it. I’m convinced that having house guests is one of my favorite ways to see friends. I get to feel like a real grown-up person when I put out “guest linens” and coffee accoutrements “in case you want to make some in the morning” (even if I have a couch instead of a guest bedroom and I forget to put out that cone that goes in the Hario so actually you cannot make some in the morning, oops), and it fits right in with my lazy-homebody agenda (see, e.g., dinner parties) because when things get hectic for them or me, there’s still always time before bed to sit and chat in pajamas and eat cookies even though you already brushed your teeth.
Which brings me to one of the best parts about overnight guests — the excuse to make food. If you, like me, have guests over the holiday season, and if you, like me, happen to be a little busier than usual, I submit peppermint mochi as a thing that is worth making. Mochi is already one of my favorite things, perfectly soft and chewy and gently sweet, but with a dose of peppermint extract, it becomes fresh and festive in the best way. I’ve been loving it as a Christmas-y holiday snack for guests — it mixes up in a matter of seconds, it’s cute in little bowls on the table, and it’s gluten-free and dairy-free and a lot of “frees” (except for a lot of sugar, whoops) so it works for almost everyone. The most time-consuming part is just letting the mochi cool and cutting it all up into bits amidst clouds of cornstarch, but if you need to, you can do that way ahead of time and freeze the little mochi pieces indefinitely until your guests arrive (or to nibble on out of the freezer when they’re gone). While Connie was here, we had lots of mochi and lots of chocolate chip cookies; when those cookies ran out, we put mochi into other cookies and had more. It was pretty great. And now that both my guests and our snacks are gone, I’m missing them all terribly. Come back soon, please and thank you!
P.S. The beautiful ceramic “paper” mug and “paper” plates in this post are from SIN. I was so excited to meet Virginia earlier this year and even more excited to own these whimsical ceramics that I’ve been coveting forever. In the spirit of the holiday season, you can get 20% off any ceramics on her site from now until February 1, 2016, one-time with the code tworedbowls! (Because January needs holiday love too.) Thank you so much, Virginia!
These are wonderful plain, but if you’re a mint wuss like me, you can top some ultra-thick drinking chocolate with them or put them in cookies! A warning about hot chocolate — last year I tried almond mochi with matcha hot chocolate and found, to endless hilarity, that they sank straight to the bottom and I had to fish them up to eat them, so this year I made Marta’s eat-it-with-a-spoon hot chocolate and found that it was perfect. (Plus, it uses up that other half-can of coconut milk you’ll have from the mochi!)
- 1 cup (150 g) sweet rice (mochiko) flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup (6 oz) coconut milk (a little less than half of a 13.5 oz can)
- 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 4–8 drops red food coloring (optional)
- sweet potato starch or regular cornstarch for dusting
- a cup or two of extra-thick hot chocolate, for serving (optional, but delicious and a great way to use up the leftover coconut milk!)
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper or grease it.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the mochiko, sugar, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water, coconut milk, and peppermint extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until the mixture is smooth and no lumps remain. (No worries about over-mixing here — sweet rice flour is gluten-free, and mochi is chewy to begin with!)
- Pour the batter into the parchment-lined baking dish. If you like, you can add a few drops of red food coloring to the batter to turn it a light pink, or pour about three-quarters of the batter, then color the remaining batter and pour that in to create patches of pink and white mochi. I had grand plans of swirling the batter into a pretty red and white marbled pattern, but, as it turns out, the mochi is too soft to hold a sharp pattern after it’s baked. Alas!
- Cover with foil and bake for about 60 minutes. The mochi is done when it is soft and gelatinous but bounces back when touched.
- Let cool completely or overnight. Dust a surface with your starch (alternatively, you can simply use more mochiko flour) and turn the mochi onto the surface. Sprinkle starch over the mochi. Cut the mochi into small pieces, then dust again with starch or flour, and serve! I liked them as a topping for this thick, spoonable hot chocolate, or mixed into brownie cookies, like these dark chocolate truffle cookies.