By Carley Sheehy

All About Mochi Ice Cream

Mochi Plated

Mochi ice cream is all the rage these days, and with good reason! The soft silky outer layer encapsulates a dollop of cold creamy ice cream, making it a fun handheld treat. But Mochi ice cream isn’t a traditional dessert, and instead exemplifies the marriage of two cultures joining together to create a fusion sensation. Here’s some tasty history behind mochi ice cream.

First, let’s dig deeper into the unique outer layer, mochi. Mochi is a Japanese confection made of pounded sticky rice. It can be shaped and prepared differently, but the texture is always soft and chewy with a touch of sweetness.

Mochi, in its traditional rice cake form, has been around for centuries in Japan. It was first popular as a meal amongst Samurai who needed portable, filling food. Interestingly, a small piece of mochi, about the size of a matchbox, is equivalent to eating a bowl of rice. Today, it’s eaten year-round, but especially popular during the Japanese New Year. The different types of mochi have symbolized different things over time, but is mostly known for being a symbol of good fortune… and who doesn’t want that!?

In Japan, mochi is traditionally made in a ceremony called mochitsuki, otherwise known in my book as “don’t try this at home!” Check out this video of these two (cray-cray) mochi chefs using perfectly coordinated full body pounding to get the perfect, traditional mochi texture:

Mochi evolved from simpler rice cakes to daifuku and manju, which are a similar form of mochi ice cream except the filling is often a sweet bean paste. Some even additionally have pieces of fruit, like strawberries.

It wasn’t until the 1990’s when mochi ice cream as we know it today was born in the US. Pairing the Japanese confection with the ever-so-popular “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream” dessert was the genius idea conceived by Joel Friedmanm. His wife, Frances Hashimoto, a Japanese-American business woman, brought the idea to fruition. The more “traditional” flavors include green tea, chocolate, and strawberry, but the sky is the limit and we’re starting to see more exotic offerings.

My love affair with mochi ice cream started a while ago as a staple dessert at Japanese restaurants, special treats while vacationing in Hawaii and even a box from the frozen aisle at Trader Joe’s. Today, I am seeing mochi ice cream all over the place… even at my local Whole Foods and Safeway. Mochi ice cream is taking the world by storm, and I’m all about it. Aren’t you!? What are your favorite mochi ice cream flavors?


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