I guess I should stop with the chocolate some time. Some time. In the future. Not now.
It’s been weeks since I left Japan, but I occasionally find myself reminiscing bits and parts of it. The little alleys, and corners, and scarily magnanimous people. Oh right, and the food. That.
I remember strolling into a little sweets shop with the rest of the family, and we were greeted by mile-high packs of mochi– little rice cakes made with Japanese glutinous rice. Mochi’s kind of like a magic food, consisting of polysaccharides, proteins, lipids and water. All weaved together to form this sticky, chewy, yet delicate mass. The gel-like consistency is actually due to lack of amylose in the starch grains of mochi rice, and it’s that sort of texture I wanted to recreate in this cake.
When I came across Food 52’s recipe for a chocolate mochi snack cake, I knew I had to give it a shot (and a little twist). Now I didn’t have the sort of rice necessary to make traditional mochi, but rice flour came close enough. And so rice flour it was.
I know I know, it’s a chocolate cake. Yet it’s much more than that. It’s akin to something bolder, and brighter, yet lighter. The crumb is so fine, yet each slice is perfect and straight-edged, holding its own, each bite one of chocolatey integrity.
This cake has:
- an almost-crisp, sugary, crusty top
- a soft, incredibly fine-crumbed interior
- oozing pockets of chocolate chunks
- a slightly squidgy, chewy middle
- me smitten
The secrets here are the addition of coffee, use of confectioner’s sugar, and the melting of chocolate, butter and honey as one of the first steps. Take your time making this– it’s simple but harbours close precision. I couldn’t resist adding a dash of coffee into the wet mix, and the result was moist and fragrant. You won’t regret dashing out to get that extra pack of confectioner’s sugar either– it yields the most fine and delicate cake crumb.
Yeah, pretty ethereal.
Chocolate Coffee ‘Mochi’ Cake (adapted from Food 52’s chocolate mochi snack cake recipe; makes a thick 9×9 pan of cake)
325g (2 cups) rice flour (I used Doves Farm)
190g ( 1 1/2 cups) confectioner’s sugar
1 tbsp baking soda
pinch coarse salt
180g (1 heaping cup) dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped into chunks
1.5 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
500ml (2 cups) whole milk
120ml (1/2 cup) coffee (I used instant– one tablespoon dissolved in half a cup of boiling water, but use the better stuff if you can!)
113g (1/2 cup) salted/unsalted butter
160g (slightly less than a cup) chopped dark chocolate, mixed with 2 tbsp extra of rice flour
5 tbsp maple syrup/honey (for the topping)
Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and grease and line a 9×9-inch brownie pan.
In a medium-large bowl, whisk together the rice flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Put the 180g of chopped dark chocolate, butter and honey into another bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Take it out and stir until you get a smooth, homogenous mixture. Alternatively, do the same in a saucepan and over a low-medium heat.
Scrape the smooth chocolate mix into a large bowl (large because it’s going to hold quite a volume), then stir in the 2 eggs, milk, coffee and vanilla extract. Add the dry mix and fold into the wet mix until you get a smooth, rather wet, light brown batter. Probably much wetter than what you would expect, but not as sticky or glutinous as your typical brownie batter. Then stir in the extra 160g of chocolate chunks mixed with the extra 2 tbsp of rice flour.
Scrape the batter into your greased pan, and bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Once out of the oven, pierce random parts of the cake with your fork or knife, then drizzle over the honey/maple syrup. Leave to cool for half an hour, then cut and serve. This cake can be kept for a week in an airtight container in the fridge, but as the original recipe from Food 52 states, it does taste better at room temperature (ah, what are microwaves for). Serve on its own, though it’s also delicious with a heavy hand of chocolate spread (as shown above) or whipped cream.