In Japanese cuisine, there are many types of desserts made of rice. A favorite, especially among children, is chi chi dango, a bite-sized mochi (rice cake) dessert that is pillowy soft and sweetened with sugar and coconut milk, then baked in the oven. This dessert, which originated in Japan, is quite popular in Hawaii and can be found pre-made at select Japanese grocery stores.
Chi chi dango is often enjoyed on Japanese holidays that celebrate children, such as Hinamatsuri (Girls’ Day) or Kodomo No Hi (Children’s or Boys’ Day). However, the dessert is versatile and is often a hit at parties and potlucks regardless of the occasion.
Tip: Use a plastic knife to cut the mochi into squares. The mochi is very sticky, and it is less likely to stick to the plastic knife versus a metal knife, making the process much easier.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a mixing bowl, sift dry ingredients: mochiko, sugar and baking powder, and set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Whisk together coconut milk and water. Add vanilla and mix well.
- Using a hand mixer, slowly add dry ingredients a little bit at a time to the wet ingredients and mix until well blended.
- Add couple drops of food coloring to the batter and mix well, until the desired color is achieved.
- Grease a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish with canola spray, then pour mixture into dish.
- Cover the pan with foil, sealing it completely.
- Bake at 350 F for 1 hour. The edges of the dish might appear slightly hard and over-baked, while the center of the dish will appear moist, but should be solid and sticky.
- Remove the foil and allow the mochi to cool completely.
- Dust a clean flat surface, such as a cutting board, with some potato starch. Using a plastic knife, cut the edges away from the pan if it hasn’t separated from the dish during baking. Turn the baking dish of mochi out onto the surface. You might need to use a metal spatula to scrape the mochi out of the dish. Using a plastic knife also coated with starch, cut mochi into small bite-sized cubes. You may also cut mochi straight from the baking dish, but I found that the mochi pieces tend to stick together making the process more difficult.
- Roll bite-sized pieces of mochi in potato starch and dust off excess before serving.
- Best eaten on the same day or next. Keeps for 1 day in an airtight container in a cool location. May be stored in the fridge for 3 to 5 days and microwaved for 10 seconds to soften the mochi.