I still remember with fondness those days when I had just been married in my mid-twenties, and my sister was Director of Japanese Programs at the Sheraton Waikiki. If I close my eyes I can almost see the sunlit Surf Room of the Moana Surfrider with their lovely lunch buffet of a myriad delights, and I can almost hear the low din of happy people on holiday, with waiters and waitresses weaving through the tables neatly covered in pink and white cloths, with their pitchers full of iced tea with pineapple juice, the ice cubes lazily clunking around inside them.
The Waikiki area is a perfect beach resort, almost like a chapter in Disneyland. It's very rarely that you see things tourists don't want to see. Everything is clean and well-ordered and panders to the perfect holiday on a tropical island without some of the more unpleasant 'reality' of the tropics. You don't really notice the presence of mosquitoes or fungus growing in all manners of places, and you don't see the telltale signs of bad maintenance like chipped tiles and broken fences that you often see in many tropical areas.
The other day I was looking for a recipe with glutinous rice. This was because I had purchased some to make Puto, a Filipino steamed rice cake, and then after finding out that the recipe didn't really produce the results I wanted, I decided to look for other ways to get rid of the rest of the glutinous rice flour. This was when I came across the word 'Butter Mochi'. Someone mentioned it in the comments of a blog explaining how to make Mochi, saying that it tasted nothing like Butter Mochi and that she was terribly disappointed.
I don't think I've ever had Butter Mochi. Even though when I'm in Hawaii, the locals think I'm a local (Japanese American) who has had a 'mainland education', I don't know that much about Hawaii, and I really don't think I've ever had Butter Mochi.
I kept the recipe lying around for days unconvinced whether I should try making it, until finally I thought: What the hell. I might as well make it, because this bastardized version of Mochi is kind of like a Japanese American and kind of like me. Although some sources speculate that Butter Mochi is a bastardized Bibingka (another Filipino rice cake) meets Portugal, I don't think it's anything like Bibingka. Whatever Butter Mochi is, I feel it's more like an accurate representation of the Hawaiian brand of East meets West. I mean if a lot of the immigrants had glutinous rice flours lying around their homes, wouldn't someone there have just come-up with this one day when they suddenly needed to bake a cake for some guests, but didn't have any ordinary wheat flour lying around? Let's just throw in the rice flour and lots of eggs and butter because rice flour isn't going to get fluffy!
So here it is. The original recipe is from here, but these are the proportions for a smaller baking pan.
312g Glutinous Rice Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
81g Melted Butter
486 ml Whole Milk
4 small-medium eggs (3 if large)
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence*
Nearly 1 Cup Dessicated Coconut Flakes
23 cm x 23 cm Baking Pan <---Turned out to be too small. *I used my home made vanilla essence made with vodka and vanilla beans. I followed this recipe.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 175C (350F).
Step 2: Mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl with a beater so that it's well-mixed.
Step 3: Beat the eggs in a smaller bowl. Add the milk and vanilla essence.
Step 4: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.
Step 5: Pour in the melted butter and dessicated coconuts.
Step 6: Pour the batter into a buttered baking pan and bake in the oven for 1 hour.
Step 7: Remove from oven after 60 minutes or when the top of the Butter Mochi is golden brown, and cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.
Step 8: Enjoy!
While this was baking, my apartment was filled with the sweet aroma of sugary coconuts and vanilla. I'd say it's a happy smell. The best part about the Butter Mochi is contrast of the crispy coconut crust on top and the chewy layer of Mochi beneath it. I think when I make this again, I'm going to use a much larger baking pan so that there's more crispy coconut.
Notes: Around 35 minutes into baking this, I walked over to the oven and took a peek to see how things were coming along. It turns out the baking pan was too small and the Butter Mochi had puffed up like Yorkshire Pudding or Dutch Babies. Lesson learned. Please use a larger baking pan than 23 cm x 23 cm. I'll give this another go and post the ideal size.