Trader Joe’s has been ramping up its selection of internationally inspired goods, and we commend them for that. You’ll find one of the latest examples, Mochi Cake Mix, in the baking section. This box mix is “inspired by Hawaii’s classic butter mochi” and retails for $3.99.
So, what’s mochi?
Mochi is a paste that’s traditionally made from steamed and pounded sweet rice. The Japanese treat can be served on its own, or it can surround sweeter foods, like red bean paste. It’s recently become popular as an accoutrement to ice cream, both as a topping and a container. Mochiko, a sweet rice flour, will yield the same signature bouncy texture when it’s baked. Nowadays, mochiko is used as an easier shortcut to prepare mochi, but it can also be mixed into baked goods. Sweet rice flour is the backbone of this box mix, which relies on coconut milk powder for added flavor. Another added bonus: there’s no gluten.
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Box cakes aren’t exactly difficult to prepare, but mixing this cake up was a breeze. The mix, water, eggs, and melted butter incorporated into a smooth batter with just a whisk. After the mochi cake finished baking and cooling, the cake easily flipped out of the pan thanks, in part, to its semi-gelatinous texture.
Trader Joe’s is not lying about the cake’s texture when they claim it’s chewy: Taste testers loved the custardy, springly, and appetizingly rubbery finished product, which reminded them of bread pudding or tapioca. Point being, if you are looking for something fluffy and traditionally cakey, this is not it.
My personal favorite thing about the mochi cake is its crispy edges, which capitalize on the cake’s powerfully buttery flavor. The cake was sweet, but not overwhelmingly so; and again, this isn’t the kind of cake you ice or frost, but it’d be fantastic paired with a tart element like fresh pineapple or strawberry slices. You could also try jam or a fresh berry compote, and perhaps a dollop of whipped topping if you’re feeling wild.
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