When I think of mochi donuts, I think of anything made from glutinous rice flour that has been fried, which is a pretty broad family of foods. My first experience with something close to what people now commonly call a mochi donut was at a Japanese bakery in the East Village of New York. The donut was shaped like a cruller and coated in sugar. It came packaged in a cellophane bag which was taped. It didn’t look so appetizing: condensation from the moisture and sugar had fogged up the cellophane and it looked good, but a pastry chef friend insisted that I try it. Sacred donuts, it was good! Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, it was lighter and less sweet than your average donut.
Fast forward several years and another take on the mochi donut has started trending all over the world. Glazed in all the bright colors, these donuts were shaped like a baby teether, made up of eight balls of dough stuck together in a circle. In Japan, these donuts are called pon de ring because of their similarity to Brazilian cheese bread pão de queijo. (Pon de ring was first launched by donut chain Mister Donut in Japan in 2003.) Interestingly, neither pon de ring nor pão de queijo are made with glutinous rice flour. Both typically use tapioca flour, and although pão de queijo is gluten-free, most pon de ring recipes also include wheat flour. SO WHY ARE THEY CALLED MOCHI donuts THEN? !
Some people suggest that the name has less to do with the glutinous rice flour that we often associate with foods called mochi and more to do with the phrase mochi-mochi, which describes a particularly soft yet springy or even bouncy texture. On her website, Just One Cookbook, Namiko Hirasawa Chen writes: “In Japanese, we describe Pon de Ring’s mochi texture as a mochi-mochi (モチモチしてる) or mocchiri (モッチリしている) texture, but that’s not is not always the case. means the described food is made of mochi. For example, bagels with a chewy texture can be described as having a mochi-like texture.
Name aside, I wanted my mochi donuts to be gluten-free. So when I created this recipe, I decided to skip the wheat flour and swap in a combination of glutinous rice flour and tapioca flour (also known as tapioca starch) . This combo produces a donut with an extremely chewy interior, as well as a thin, crispy exterior that creates an amazing ASMR soundtrack when you crack one open.
How to make mochi donuts at home
To make the beignets, you will bring a mixture of milk, sugar, butter, and salt to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mixture of mochiko and tapioca flours. This lumpy batter is mixed in a stand mixer until smooth, then you add an egg and baking powder to make a sticky batter. After a little rest, you’re ready to shape your donuts and fry them until golden brown.
Sweet rice flour
I’ve included recipes for some of my favorite frosting flavors including matcha, raspberry, chocolate, black sesame, and ube. Once your mochi donuts are cooled and glazed, feel free to top them with colorful sprinkles, nuts, whole sesame seeds, candies, toasted coconut, or whatever you like.
You can give these mochi donuts the traditional pon de ring shape, but I actually prefer to turn them into donut holes, either just glazed or just coated in cinnamon sugar. Can you think of anything better than a bowl of mochi donut holes to eat like candy? I certainly can’t.
Mochi donutsClarice Lam
Originally appeared on Epicurious