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Black Sesame and Coconut Mochi

Black Sesame and Coconut Mochi 12.000

Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Post

Apr 7, 2021

If you're already a fan of the delightfully soft and squishy treat, you'll love this not-too-sweet rendition of mochi. If not, it will win you over. Cookbook author Hetty McKinnon, who grew up eating the Chinese version known as lo mai chi, says the dessert may seem daunting to make, but in reality it's a fun, approachable project involving wrapping dough around a filling.

To make superfine sugar, process granulated sugar (use slightly more than the recipe calls for, around 190 grams) in a food processor until it is more finely ground. Take care not to turn it into powdered sugar.

Pro tip: Heat gelatinizes the starches in the rice flour and turns them quite gluey, so it's preferable to wash your equipment with cold water. Let soak first for easier cleaning.

Total time: 1 hour

Storage Notes: The mochi are best eaten immediately, but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours. After that, store in the freezer and eat frozen for up to 1 month.

Where to Buy: Black sesame seeds and glutinous rice flour are available at well stocked supermarkets, Asian markets and online. If you find roasted seeds, skip the toasting step.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 12 servings

  • For the filling
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (75 grams) black sesame seeds (may substitute white sesame seeds; see headnote)
  • 1 tablespoon superfine sugar (see headnote)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut cream (not cream of coconut)
  • 1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
  • Pinch sea salt
  • For the dough
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 grams) glutinous rice flour (sweet rice flour, such as Mochiko brand)
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 milliliters) water
  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) superfine sugar (see headnote)
  • Cornstarch, for dusting
  • 3 tablespoons desiccated coconut, for rolling


Make the filling: In a medium skillet over low heat, toast the sesame seeds, shaking occasionally, just until aromatic, 4 to 5 minutes (they can burn in a second). Transfer to a plate or bowl and let cool. (Skip this step if you've bought roasted seeds.)

Transfer the toasted sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon of the superfine sugar to a food processor or blender and process until finely ground and well combined. You may still see some flakes of the sesame seeds; they won't break down all the way. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Add the coconut cream, desiccated coconut and salt, and stir well to form a thick paste, mashing the coconut cream as you stir to ensure it's fully incorporated.

Make the dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice flour and water. Pour the mixture into a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium saucepan, using a flexible spatula to press it through and into the pan. Stir in the superfine sugar. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and, using a flexible spatula, stir constantly until you have a very sticky blob of dough, 6 to 8 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the pot as you stir to prevent scorching. At first it will look like nothing is happening, and then it will thicken very quickly. You'll know you've reached the right point when stirring feels like a real workout, with the dough putting up lots of resistance. Remove from the heat.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cutting board and sprinkle with cornstarch — you want an even layer to prevent sticking but not so much you dry out the dough immediately. Tip the dough onto the paper and allow to cool slightly for a few minutes. Too hot and the dough will be too loose to shape, but too cool and it won't be firm enough to form into neat balls. It should still be fairly warm to the touch. Keep in mind it will continue to cool after cutting and as you work your way through the batch.

Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with more cornstarch. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces, ideally with a bench scraper (it can be easier to visualize if you cut the round into fourths and then divide each of those into thirds).

Sprinkle the desiccated coconut onto a plate or shallow dish.

Dust your hands with a little cornstarch before handling the sticky dough (an excessive amount will dry out the dough too much and make forming the balls harder). Roll a piece into a ball, then flatten into a disc 2 1/2 to 3 inches wide. The dough should be soft and malleable. Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the filling in the center, then pull the sides up and over the filling, pinching and twisting to seal the dough.

It can help to flip the round seam side down to form it into a neater ball. Roll the mochi in the coconut, pressing a little to help it adhere, reshaping the ball as needed. If your hands are feeling sticky, just dust again with cornstarch. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling (you may have a little filling left over, which can be stirred into yogurt or oatmeal). Work as quickly and confidently as you can so the dough doesn't get too cold.

Serve immediately.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "To Asia, With Love," by Hetty McKinnon (Prestel, 2021).

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per mochi: 131

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 5g 8%

Saturated Fat: 1g 5%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 17mg 1%

Total Carbohydrates: 21g 7%

Dietary Fiber: 1g 4%

Sugar: 13g

Protein: 2g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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