Sweet, pillowy chi chi dango mochi is a deliciously complementary end to any freshly delicate Japanese meal. Made of mochiko, or glutinous rice flour, coconut milk and sugar, homemade chi chi dango bears little resemblance to the starch-coated, mass-produced frozen mochi found in large supermarkets.
Choose Your Ingredients
The main ingredient in traditional mochi is mochiko, a sweet rice flour found at Asian food stores and large grocery stores. Coconut milk gives chi chi dango its distinctive flavor. Buy unsweetened coconut milk -- the type used in Thai, Indian and Caribbean cooking. Sugar and vanilla add another layer of flavor, while a bit of baking soda helps baked chi chi dango fluff up and hold its shape. The powdery stuff on the outside of mochi is not confectioner's sugar, but potato starch to ease the stickiness without adding sweetness.
Oven-Baked Chi Chi Dango
Baking chi chi dango brings out the subtle flavors and firms up the texture of the treat. The proportions vary from recipe to recipe, but the technique is no different from baking the base for a jelly roll. For every 1 pound of sweet rice flour, you need about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of sugar. Coconut milk comes in cans that range in size from 12 ounces to 15 ounces; add about 2 cups of water per can to give you the right consistency of batter and tone down the intense coconut flavor. Start with about a teaspoon of vanilla and add a little at a time to taste. Sift the dry ingredients together, combine the wet ingredients, then slowly add the dry ones to the wet ones. Mix them together until you have formed a thick batter. Spread this into a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes. Cut the chi chi dango into small pieces and roll them in potato starch.
Quick Microwave Version
Microwaving chi chi dango gives you a sweet treat in minutes. Follow the basic recipe, but skip the baking soda. Mix the ingredients until you have a smooth batter, then pour it into a microwave-safe baking dish or tube pan. Cover the batter with plastic wrap to help it heat evenly and avoid splatters. Microwave on high for 10 minutes, then cut and roll the pieces in potato flour or cornstarch.
Add a bit of color to chi chi dango by making several batches in different colors and serving them together on skewers. Or bake a multi-layered batch by dividing the batter into thirds. Use traditional colors -- pink, uncolored and green -- or choose any colors you like. Add a few drops of food coloring to the divided batter and spread the first third into the greased pan. Bake this for about 15 minutes to firm it up enough that the next layer will not simply sink into it. Repeat with the second and third layers, then cut and roll the pieces in potato starch.
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