Easy Mochi Ice Cream Recipe – Tastes Better From Scratch

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Video Mochi ice cream balls

Four Mochi Ice Cream balls on a plate with one cut in half to show the ice cream center.

My love affair with Mochi (pronounced moh chee) began a couple years ago when a friend from Laos brought mochi ice cream to a dinner party. I loved the soft and chewy texture and the size and shape of this bite sized treat. Since then, I’ve noticed as mochi has made major gains in popularity in the US and I see it in the freezer section of every grocery store I enter.

My kids have also become big fans of mochi ice cream as we’ve been purchasing large packs from Costco and having them nightly for dessert. But, as much as I love the my/mo variety pack, I decided it was time to try my hand at the homemade version. And, as predicted, I’ll never go back!

Some people recommend making mochi rice cakes even sweeter with a 2:1 ratio of sugar to flour. For that approach, check out this recipe.

What is mochi?

Mochi is a sweet rice cake that is found in many different sweet or savory varieties in Japanese cuisine. During the Japanese New Year, there is a tradition called Mochitsuki, which is the more laborious process of steaming the sweet glutinous rice and then pounding it to make mochi (small glutinous rice cakes). I loved this video showing the process of Mochitsuki.

This recipe is a simpler version of mochi is made by microwaving or oven steaming the glutinous rice flour to form these little rice cakes.

Why we love to make our own Mochi Ice Cream:

  • EASY! It may sound intimidating, but I’m here to tell you this recipe is so EASY! Pick up your favorite ice cream and order sweet rice flour (amazon will ship it right to your door for $7) and the other 5 ingredients are pantry staples. Plus, it takes 3 minutes to cook and just about 25 minutes to prepare.
  • Customize it. I love all the customizations you can do to this recipe (see flavor ideas below). I added peanut butter to my most recent batch of dough and it was amazing.

Know before you go:

Mochi is very sticky! You will want to have cornstarch, potato starch, or tapioca flour on hand to help manage the stickiness. You’ll also want to have some water in a cup to dip your spatula in and be ready to soak everything in water when you are finished. This will help make easy cleanup.

Dough Cutter: Choose a cookie or biscuit cutter that is about an inch bigger than the ice cream scoop. It’s important to have a circle of dough that is just big enough to surround the ice cream but not SO big that you have air pockets or extra dough hanging off. I’ve even used the lid of my cornstarch container because it was just the right size. If you do have extra dough, be sure to cut it away when you add the ice cream as it will taste hard and chewy once it’s frozen.

Cooking the mochi dough: I have found the microwave to be fast, easy, and effective. However, traditional mochi is steamed. If you’d like to steam the dough instead, steam it for for 15 minutes, stir it and steam for 5 more minutes or until the dough takes on a slightly shiny sheen.

Ingredients in Mochi:

  • Glutinous rice flour (sweet rice flour- I used Mochiko but you can also use shiratamako). Regular flour will not work for this recipe!
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cornstarch (or potato starch) – to help with the stickiness of the dough.

How to Make Mochi:

1. Freeze ice cream balls: Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Working quickly, use a small ice cream scoop to scoop ice cream balls and place them on the parchment paper. Be sure to pack the ice cream tightly in the scooper, leaving a flat edge on the ice cream so that it will sit flat on your cookie sheet. Freeze for 1 hour.

Scooped ice cream balls on a cookie sheet.

2. Make mochi: Combine flour, sugar, and powdered sugar in a microwave safe bowl. Add water and stir well, until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave mochi dough for 1 minute. Wet your spatula to prevent sticking and use your spatula to repeatedly fold the mixture. Cover, and microwave again for 1 minute. Fold the dough again and microwave for 30 more seconds. The mochi should look slightly shiny and if it doesn’t, microwave for 30 more seconds.

4. Roll mochi dough into rectangle: Place a piece of parchment paper on the counter and dust it with a layer of cornstarch. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the mochi dough from the bowl and onto the parchment paper (keep in mind that it will be very hot so be careful not to touch it). Dust the top of the dough ball with cornstarch. Use a rolling pin to roll the mochi dough into a large rectangle, about ¼ inch thick. If the dough sticks at all while rolling, continue to dust the top with cornstarch to prevent sticking. Place the parchment paper with the rolled out dough on it, onto the cookie sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Three process photos for making Mochi, rolling it out and cutting circles out of it.

5. Fill mochi with ice cream: Remove the dough from the fridge and use a round biscuit cutter (about 3 inches) to cut circles in the dough. Your circles need to be big enough to pinch the dough around the ice cream. Pick up one circle of dough and gently brush off the cornstarch from the top (I like to use a dry pastry brush to do this). Working with one scoop of ice cream at a time, (keep the rest in the freezer so they don’t melt), place one ice cream scoop in the center of the mochi and gently press the dough around the ice cream. Pinch the edges of the mochi to seal it. Place mochi on a piece of plastic wrap bringing the corners of the plastic wrap to the center and twisting it tightly at the top.

Three process photos for adding a scoop of ice cream to mochi dough and rolling it into balls and wrapping it in plastic wrap.

6. Freeze: Place mochi back in the freezer with the rolled plastic wrap side down. Continue with remaining dough and ice cream. Freeze mochi ice cream for at least 1 hour before eating. Once it’s frozen, store it wrapped in the plastic wrap and in a freezer safe bag or container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow the dough to thaw slightly before eating.

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