Coconut Mochi with Red Bean-Chocolate Filling

I’m positive I’m not the only one that’d like to receive something other than a box of chocolate for Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong…I love chocolates, but truthfully, it is a bit prosaic these days.  Why not reinvent that tradition?  Being biased and all to asian treats, I may not be the best person to tell you mochi would be a good Valentine’s gift…but I’m going to.  Want to know why?  They’re chewy, perfectly sweet, and this recipe includes a hint of coconut.  If that’s not enticing enough, the insides are filled with rich tasting red beans enlivened with dark chocolate.  As a reader, I understand you might be skeptical at this point…because let’s see…we have coconut, which people either extremely hate or desperately love (I happen to be the latter) and beans??  I ask you to blindly trust me on this one.  Package them into candy boxes and give them to loved ones.  To keep them from sticking together, use mini cupcake liners.  To make them even cuter, cut the edges of the cupcake liners into a flower shape.  The recipient will be delighted.

Coconut Mochi with Red Bean-Chocolate Filling  (makes about 30)

1 18 ounce can of sweetened red bean paste*
2 squares of Ghirardelli 100% cacao unsweetened baking bar, melted
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
8 ounces Mochiko rice flour
1 cup coconut milk
potato starch, for dusting*
* Can be found at an Asian market

In a bowl mix the red bean paste and melted chocolate together. Set aside. In a small saucepan, mix the water and the sugar together.  Heat over medium heat until the sugar completely dissolves.  Remove from heat.  In the meantime, mix the flour and coconut milk together in a large microwave proof bowl.  Cover and microwave for 5 minutes on high.  Carefully remove and stir well.  Cover and microwave for an additional 5 minutes.  Stir again.  Pour the sugar mixture into the flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated (the liquid will look like it won’t absorb but with patience it will). Turn out the mixture onto a well dusted cutting board or cookie sheet (be careful it’s very hot and sticky at this point). Dust your hands with the starch as well so it won’t stick to you. Pinch off a 2 inch piece of dough, roll it into a ball, and flatten it into a disk. Place a small amount of the red bean filling in the center. Gently enclose the filling with the dough and place finished mochi in a mini cupcake liner seam side down.  Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

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