Ube mochi is difficult to miss with its vibrantly purple rice casing. However, this fusion snack has much more up its sleeve than just its colour. Mochi is a deliciously chewy Japanese rice cake which is taking the world by storm, and if you have never tried this Filipino rice cake dessert before, you’re in for a treat!
Read our helpful guide to find out more, and discover our tried and tested recipe below to make your own easily.
What is ube mochi?
Ube mochi cake is a fusion treat of the classic Japanese sweet snack made with glutinous rice, flavoured with eye-catching purple yam, similar to sweet potato. The bright violet colour of this root vegetable has intrigued people worldwide.
Originating from the Philippines, the locals use the root vegetable to flavour cakes and other desserts.
Meanwhile, Japanese mochi is chewy and indulgent. First, a sticky rice paste is made through the vigorous pounding of short-grain glutinous rice, known as mochigome. From there, cooks shape the rice paste into balls and serve them with sweet or savoury food or wrapped around a sweet filling. Popular fillings include red bean, matcha and vanilla.
Taro, another root vegetable that many compare ube to, is also often used to make the sweet paste filling. This is similar to another Asian favourite snack, taro mochi.
While many describe the rice as glutinous, this refers to the sticky consistency as it is gluten-free.
The flavour of ube is similar to sweet potato, yet slightly less sugary with subtle creamy vanilla notes. Some compare the taste to taro, a popular root vegetable eaten across Asia. However, traditional cooks rarely use taro in sweet foods. The flavour is savoury and nuttier but is a favourite addition to bubble teas.
We have an article that goes into detail on ube versus taro. Many people often confuse these two root vegetables due to their close similarities.
However, the sweetness of the Filipino root vegetable is perfectly balanced in our ube mochi recipe. We made sure to soften the purple vegetable’s sugary taste with that creamy, chewy rice casing.
One ube mochi cake contains 81 calories. So, we won’t judge if you eat two! In addition, one cooked cup of this starchy vegetable contains only 140 calories meaning it is healthy and delicious.
For our ube mochi recipe, you will need:
- Mochiko (sweet rice flour): Rather than steaming and pounding the sticky mochigome yourself, it is much easier, and much less messy, to buy a packet of glutinous rice flour! The flour is easy to buy online these days.
- Sugar: Some recipes don’t include sugar. However, keeping the paste smooth and pliable is crucial. In addition, sugar helps lengthen the mochi’s shelf-life.
- Ube flavouring: There are various options for incorporating that deliciously sweet flavour. You can try an ube powder or a paste.
Ube powder is concentrated and raw, full of vividly purple colour! This is a great option to make ube mochi if you're looking for convenience. You can use it to make both the creamy filling and the flavoured rice dough.
Using the powder is quick and easy. It not only saves you time but also acts as a dye, turning the rice paste bright purple. Plus, it is effortless to buy online.
If you’d like to try our recipe using the flavouring powder, follow these simple steps:
- For 1 cup of mochiko, add 1 tablespoon ube powder. Combine in a bowl along with ¼ cup white sugar.
- Slowly add 1 cup of water, stirring continuously. Once it is all incorporated, you will have your mochi paste. From there, continue to follow the recipe below.
Using fresh paste
Fresh ube paste is called halaya and is a sweet, creamy mixture of the starchy root vegetable mixed with condensed milk or coconut milk. Be warned, halaya is so delicious you may find yourself eating it before it makes its way into the mochi!
Making halaya from scratch is more time consuming than hydrating the powder. However, if you’re looking for the delicious purple root vegetable flavour, look no further than the real thing.
Cooking these ube mochis are incredibly simple. A top tip is to use your microwave, so the process is really quick and easy. If you don’t have a microwave, preheat your oven to 275°F/135°C, cover your mochi batter in foil and bake for 1 hour.
A thick halaya paste for the filling is ideal, so if you cook it from scratch, make sure it reduces until spreadable.
How to make Ube paste (halaya) recipe
Follow the steps below to make 3 cups of your own paste at home. Preparation should take about 5 minutes, but the whole cooking process will take about 1 hour.
- 1kg ube (fresh or frozen)
- 110g sugar
- 1 354ml can evaporated milk
- 1 300ml can condensed milk
- 60g butter
- First, scrub the ube. Then, put the root vegetable whole in a saucepan covered in water and bring them to a boil. Cook for 30-40 minutes until tender.
- Drain the boiled root vegetable. Once they are slightly cooled, peel off the skins and mash the flesh in a bowl.
- In a wok or high-sided frying pan, add the mashed root vegetable along with all the other ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Stir continuously as the mixture thickens. If left unattended, the paste will burn. Cook for 25 minutes for a jam-like consistency or for 40 minutes for a thick peanut butter texture. The paste will continue to thicken when chilled in the fridge.
- Add a couple of drops of purple food colouring to the water in step 1 of the recipe to make your ube mochi extra purple!
- Store the halaya paste in the fridge for a couple of days, or you can freeze it for a month.
Ube Mochi Recipe
- 1 cup sweet rice flour (mochiko)
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ½ cup ube paste (halaya) for the batter
- ¼ cup ube paste (halaya) for the filling
- 1 cup water
- Potato starch for dusting
- In a bowl, mix together the mochiko and sugar. Combine the water and ½ cup halaya paste in a jug and slowly add it to the dry ingredients, stirring continuously to make sure there are no lumps.
- Pour the batter into a microwavable dish, cover with cling film and cook it on ‘high’ for 5 minutes, checking it at 1-minute intervals. It should gradually thicken and become pliable and sticky as the rice flour cooks. Leave it to cool slightly.
- Tip out the mochi paste onto a clean surface covered in potato starch and cut it into 12 pieces.
- Flatten each piece into a square and add a teaspoon of halaya paste in the centre. Close the square of rice paste around the filling, making sure it is tightly wrapped and the ball is smooth and round. Repeat with the rest of the ube mochi dough. Sprinkle with a little more potato starch before placing on a serving plate. Serve immediately.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
The Autencio Siblings has a great video recipe showing the whole home cooking process! They use some dye and ube condense to add the halaya flavour to their mochi!
Liked this recipe? Try making it at home and share with us a picture of your delicious sweet dumplings! Then, tag us on Instagram @honestfoodtalks.