If you like the bouncy, springy, chewy, sticky texture of mochi and you like the sweet and spicy flavor of pumpkin, then you will love Pumpkin Butter Mochi! It's bouncy, beautiful, and sweet and spicy and only takes, no joke, 5 minutes to throw together. Shall we?
What is Butter Mochi?
Butter mochi is a classic Hawaiian dessert, originating as a multi-faceted fusion of local Hawaiian culture and Asian culinary influences. The primary ingredients—glutinous rice flour, butter, coconut milk—and resulting taste and texture are a kind of hybrid of Japanese mochi, Chinese nian gao, Filipino Bibingka, and Korean sweet chapssal tteok. However, Butter Mochi, or often called "Hawaiian Butter Mochi" by non-Hawaiians, is unmistakably its own thing.
Mochiko, Japanese sweet rice flour, is the ingredient that gives Butter Mochi it's characteristic bouncy, chewy texture. However, rather than being mixed with water then shaped and steamed like mochi, Butter Mochi is combined with butter, milk and eggs for that cake-like richness and baked in a pan in the oven.
Why Add Pumpkin in Butter Mochi?
This version stirs pumpkin puree directly into the butter mochi batter and infuses spices throughout. Pumpkin's earthy, subtly nutty flavor undertone counter-balances the sweetness of the sugar and glutinous rice, as well as the richness from the eggs, milk, and coconut milk. Pumpkin Butter Mochi is bouncy, beautiful, and definitely a must-make when pumpkin season hits.
Ingredients You Need For Pumpkin Butter Mochi
Here is a list of the ingredients you need for Pumpkin Butter Mochi:
- Mochiko, also known as sweet rice flour or glutinous rice flour
- Pumpkin puree
- Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg
- Baking powder
- Evaporated Milk
- Coconut milk
- Vanilla Extract
Optional: Toasted sesame seeds, either black or white, or pumpkin seeds, are optional ingredients you can sprinkle onto the batter right before baking. Either one will make a visual statement and add a little extra toastiness.
What is Mochiko
The eponymous ingredient in Butter Mochi is mochiko, a type of Japanese rice flour made from sweet rice. Sometimes sweet rice is called sticky rice or glutinous rice. Though mochiko is generally associated with Japanese cuisine, it is a popular ingredient across many Asian cuisines, sometimes used in savory dishes, and mostly used in sweet desserts and confections. When baked or cooked, mochiko imparts a distinctive texture that ranges from bouncy and squishy to sticky and chewy. If you've ever had mochi, mochi ice cream, or any of the colorful rice cakes like Korean tteok/dduk, Filipino bibingka, and Chinese nian gao, you're familiar with the texture!
Though the name has the word "glutinous" in it, glutinous rice flour does not have "gluten," spelled with an "e" in it, so mochiko is in fact, gluten-free. The word glutinous refers to the high starch content of the sweet rice, which is what makes it sweet and sticky.
This is the brand of mochiko I use. It is grown and milled in California by a multi-generation Japanese-American rice farming family!
Other Types of Sweet Rice Flour
There are several types of sweet rice flours that are similar to mochiko in that they are derived from sweet rice, but different in the way they are processed and therefore slightly different in the final texture and how it is used:
- Shiratamako is another Japanese style of glutinous rice flour, processed by soaking the rice first then milling into a much finer final product that is better suited for silky mochi confections. Shiratamako is not as widely available as mochiko, and is generally more expensive.
- Thai glutinous rice flour, pictured above, is also made by the "wet milling" method and is used for smooth silky dumplings. If you can't find a glutinous rice flour labeled mochiko, this is a good substitute.
- Sweet Rice Flour is basically any other "Western" brand that makes its own finely ground sweet rice flour, e.g. Bob's Red Mill.
Ingredients Notes and Resources
- Mochiko. I use this brand of mochiko, grown in California by a multi-generation Japanese-American farming family. You can buy it at most Japanese and Asian grocery stores, and online.
- Pumpkin Puree. Get 100% pumpkin puree in the can or box, not pumpkin pie filling, which has added sugar and spices.
- Cinnamon, Ginger, and Nutmeg. If you have an unexpired container of something called "pumpkin pie spice," might as well use 2 teaspoons here. You can also make my slightly more intense Pumpkin Pie Spice that includes turmeric.
- Sugar. Plain granulated sugar works the best here.
- Salt. Either this kosher salt or this ancient sea salt for every day use in the kitchen.
- Butter. I use salted butter for everything because I love salt. You can use unsalted butter, but why.
- Evaporated Milk. Just like for traditional American pumpkin pie, we're using a can of evaporated milk! You can use any fat percentage, though I have had the best results with 2%. Even nonfat/skim milk is fine if you use a full-fat coconut milk.
- Coconut milk. Use plain, unsweetened coconut milk in a can. Any fat percentage is fine, though full-fat will give you the richest texture. What you don't want to get is the kind of coconut milk in a carton usually located in the plant-based milk aisle. Also, not coconut cream, and not cream of coconut.
- Black Sesame Seeds. Any Japanese or Asian grocery store will have black sesame seeds. Make sure to get black sesame seeds that are already toasted. If you can only find raw or unhulled sesame seeds, lightly shake them in a sauté pan over medium heat for about 90 seconds until they are fragrantly nutty.
How to Make Pumpkin Butter Mochi
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Using the wrapper and ½ tablespoon of the butter, generously grease the bottom and sides of your baking pan. Or, spray with baking spray.
Whisk together 3 large eggs, 1½ cups sugar, 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1 can evaporated milk, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract in a large bowl just until well combined. Try not to beat or whip too much air into the batter.
In a sieve directly over the bowl with the liquid ingredients, sift together all the mochiko, 1 tablespoon baking powder, all the spices, and ½ teaspoon sea salt directly into the liquid ingredients.
Stir dry ingredients into liquid ingredients until well incorporated. You do not need to worry about overmixing because mochiko does not have gluten.
Add the ¼ cup melted butter and 1 can coconut milk and mix until fully combined. The batter will be liquidy.
Pour the Pumpkin Butter Mochi into the prepared baking pan. Tap the baking pan against the countertop to level out the batter and pop any air bubbles. If you are using sesame seeds, evenly sprinkle in a thin layer over the top of the batter.
Bake the Pumpkin Butter Mochi for about 1 hour, or until the edges are golden brown and no longer wiggles in the center when you shake the pan. Place the pan on a wire rack and run a knife with a thin blade around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides. Let the Pumpkin Butter Mochi cool in the pan completely, about 1 hour.
Tip the Butter Mochi out on to a cutting board upside down. Slice the Butter Mochi from the bottom side with a plastic knife for the cleanest cuts, and serve or wrap for storage.
Pro Tips, Tricks, and Techniques
- For an extra boost of pumpkin spice flavor, use the entire can of pumpkin and double the amount of spices. This does not affect the texture of the final Pumpkin Butter Mochi, just makes the individual pieces ever so slightly taller!
- Make sure to grease the baking pan all the way into the corners to make sure the Butter Mochi releases.
- Dust the buttered/greased pan with some of the mochiko or regular rice flour to make a very crackly crust around the edges of the final baked Butter Mochi.
- Whisk and stir by hand rather than an electric mixer, which will aerate the batter too much and give it a fluffier, more cake-like texture rather than the bouncy, chewy, mochi-like texture we want in Butter Mochi.
- Make sure to tap the baking pan with the batter in it against the counter to pop out any air bubbles.
- Use a PLASTIC knife, like the disposable kind, to cut the mochi for the smoothest, edges and no sticking. I tried a serrated knife, my ultra sharp Bob Kramer heated, run under water, slicked with oil and butter, and none of those even came close to a clean cut. I have no idea how or why the plastic knife works, but it does.
How to Cut Butter Mochi with the Cleanest Edges
Tools and Equipment for Pumpkin Butter Mochi
There isn't any special tool or piece of equipment required for Pumpkin Butter Mochi. In fact, I highly encourage you to skip hauling out heavy stand or hand mixers for this. However, that doesn't mean there are a couple of things that might make this Pumpkin Butter Mochi easier than it already is to get from pantry to plate.
- 9x13-inch pan. Because the final baked mochi is very sticky, you will have to grease or spray the pan no matter what. So it doesn't matter if the pan is non-stick or not. I love this pan with the 90° angle, perfectly squared off corners. This is a more affordable one available on amazon.
- Ceramic 9x13-inch pan. Because Butter Mochi is considered something of a "homestyle" recipe, I love the look of it in baked and served directly out of a cute ceramic dish.
- Parchment paper.Iif you're really worried about the mochi sticking to the pan, use parchment paper. Grease the pan directly first, layer with parchment, then grease the parchment. If you don't grease the parchment, the mochi will stick to it!
- Glass mixing bowls. You will need a fairly large mixing bowl to make this.
- Sifter. I use an inexpensive metal wire sieve to sift dry ingredients together. P.S. metal sieves are great for straining bone broth!
- Whisk. So much easier to grab a whisk out of the utensil drawer than haul a mixer out of the cabinets!
- Spatula. To scrape every last drop of that precious butter mochi batter out of the bowl and into the pan.
Different Size Pans for Baking Pumpkin Butter Mochi
- Can You Bake Pumpkin Butter Mochi in a Muffin/Cupcake Tin? Yes! And I highly encourage it because you get MAXIMUM crispy caramelized edges! Bake this Pumpkin Butter Mochi recipe as is in two 12-cup muffin tins, yielding 24 mochi muffins. Fill the muffin cups with just a ½-inch of space at the top. Mochi muffins do not rise like regular muffins and will not overflow.
- Can You Bake Pumpkin Butter Mochi in a Square Pan? Yes! You can bake this Pumpkin Butter Mochi recipe as is in two 8x8-inch square pans. Or, make half the recipe and bake in one 8x8-inch pan. The final product will be a little flatter, so check the butter mochi at 45 minutes.
- Can You Bake Pumpkin Butter Mochi in a Round Pan? Yes! You can bake this Pumpkin Butter Mochi recipe as is in two 8-inch round pans or two 9-inch round cake pans. Or make half the recipe and bake in one 8-inch or 9-inch pan. The final product will be a little flatter, so check the butter mochi at 45 minutes.
- Can You Bake the Cake in a Loaf Pan? Not recommended! Unless you have four loaf pans and only fill them about 1-inch high each time.
Quick story time: One time, I baked a killer Tres Leches Cake in the only 9x13-inch pan I owned and took it to my then-boyfriend's house for a dinner party. We broke up and I never got the pan back. So I make my Butter Mochi in one 9x9-inch square pan and the overflow in a muffin pan.
No I do not want to buy another 9x13-inch pan. I kind of like being reminded of that that little bit of rage every time I need a 9x13 pan and have to use something else.
Leftovers and Storage
You can absolutely keep leftover Pumpkin Butter Mochi for several days on the countertop and up to a month in the freezer. You just need to take care to do a couple of things for optimal storage:
- Pre-slice the Pumpkin Butter Mochi into individual portions
- Wrap each individual piece of Pumpkin Butter Mochi in parchment paper (best option) or plastic cling wrap (acceptable option) to keep them from sticking together.
- Air-tight container to keep the mochi from drying out and getting a little too chewy (unless you like that)
Here are detailed tips for how long to store leftovers:
Countertop. Keep leftover Pumpkin Butter Mochi in an airtight container on the countertop for two days.
Refrigerator. Keep leftover Pumpkin Butter Mochi in an airtight container in the refrigerator for five days. Take individual servings out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature or heat gently in the microwave for 30 seconds or in a toaster oven on medium.
Freezer. Store Pumpkin Butter Mochi for the longer term, about 1 month, in the freezer. It is best to freeze what you know you wont eat right away. Wrap each portion in parchment paper to keep from sticking, and store in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Thaw in refrigerator overnight, or pop into a toaster oven or air-fryer for a few minutes.
Ingredients Substitutions and Varying Ratios
The Butter Mochi itself is fairly forgiving in terms of flavor additions and measurement precision. However, there aren't many actual substitutes for the ingredients themselves, e.g. sweet/glutinous rice flour, butter, sugar, and eggs.
- Can you use a different type of flour? No. You can use different styles or brands of sweet rice flour or glutinous rice flour, but you cannot use any other kind of flour, e.g. wheat flour, cassava or other starch, or ground nut flours. Regular rice flour as explained above, is not "sticky" and does not produce the mochi "bounce."
- Can You Substitute Out the Butter? The point of Butter Mochi is butter. If you want to use oil, make a different recipe. That being said, you can absolutely substitute a plant-based butter that has the same general flavor and texture of regular butter in this recipe.
- Can you Replace the Eggs? I have not yet personally made this Pumpkin Butter Mochi with an egg substitute, either store-bought or something like ground flaxseeds. If you do, please let me know how it turns out! I would recommend against ground flaxseed though, as they will take away from the smooth texture of the mochi.
- Milk. If you would prefer not to use regular dairy milk, you can substitute with an additional ½ can of coconut milk, any other plant-based milk, or you can simply add 1½ cups plain water. You do need the liquid to create the characteristic mochi bounce. Just be mindful that if you're trying to make this Pumpkin Butter Mochi dairy-free, you also have to consider replacing the butter.
- Can You Make it Vegan? If you replace the eggs, butter, and regular dairy milk with appropriate plant-based substitutes, the butter mochi will be vegan. That being said, I have not applied any of these substitutions myself. If you do, let me know how it turns out!
Varying the Amount of an Ingredient
- Sugar. If you prefer something less sweet, you can decrease the amount of sugar by up to half without affecting the texture of the final Butter Mochi. However, do not use a low- or no-calorie sugar substitute.
- Butter. I have made this with half the amount of butter (¼ cup melted butter) and as long as you use coconut milk, the final result will be fine.
- Coconut Milk. Coconut milk contains some fat that contributes to the richness of the final butter mochi. If you would prefer not to use coconut milk because of the flavor, you can add an extra 1 cup of regular dairy milk, as long as the dairy milk is at least 2% fat.
More Pumpkin Recipes
If you're here for the pumpkin spice, bake this Pumpkin Butter Mochi first, then come back and try more of these sweet treat recipes using pumpkin!
Pumpkin Butter Mochi Recipe
- ¼ cup butter (½ stick) melted
- 3 large eggs
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1-pound box mochiko, or sweet glutinous rice flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 can unsweetened coconut milk 12 to 14-ounce
- optional: toasted or black sesame seeds
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with butter or baking spray.
- Whisk together 3 large eggs, 1½ cups sugar, 1 cup pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract in a large bowl until well combined and pale golden in color.
- In a sieve directly over the bowl with the liquid ingredients, sift together mochiko, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and ½ teaspoon sea salt directly into the liquid ingredients. Whisk until well incorporated. You do not need to worry about overmixing because mochiko does not have gluten.
- Add the canned coconut milk and melted butter and mix until fully combined. The batter will be liquidy.
- Pour into the Pumpkin Butter Mochi into the prepared baking pan. Lightly tap the pan against the countertop to level out the batter and pop any air bubbles. If you have the time, allow the batter to sit in the pan undisturbed for about 10 minutes to let the mochiko soak up the liquid. If you are using sesame seeds, evenly sprinkle sesame seeds in a thin layer over the top of the batter.
- Bake the Pumpkin Butter Mochi for about 1 hour, or until the butter mochi no longer wiggles in the center when you shake the pan.
- Place the pan on a wire rack and run a knife with a thin blade around the edge of the pan. Let the Pumpkin Butter Mochi cool in the pan completely, about 1 hour. Tip the Butter Mochi out on to a cutting board to slice and serve or wrap for storage.
Somewhere deep down in the darkest depths of a previous post, I alluded to my having one of the worst months in the history of my life ever on the planet in this universe. Ever. Don’t worry, I know most readers don’t get past the first paragraph in one of my posts, let alone the penultimate, but I still hate you for not reading.
It’s not really fair to say “worst” without explaining in what way it’s been the worst. Neither family nor friends have fallen ill. I didn’t get arrested, get mugged, get my heart broken (at least, not in recent months), get my house broken into, get into an accident, lose a job (again, not in recent months), or experience any other sort of disastrophic tragedy that would put me into an impossibly hopeless physical, mental, emotional, or financial situation.
When I say “worst,” what I am really referring to is my inability to keep up with this overwhelmingly frenetic pace that my life has reached. While I used to thrive on that kind of fast-lane lifestyle, careening at warp speed with my tailpipes on fire, this is undoubtedly unravelling at such a high speed that only teeny tiny dogs can sense it. My resumé doesn’t lie – every cliché “skill” on there is actually true for me, except for “team player.”
(I have never have been a team player, never will be, and neither is anyone else, but I will save my thoughts on “teamwork” for another day.) I am a “multi-tasker.” I can juggle competing priorities. I am a master of time-management. However, never before in my life have I had so many different things going on, not only simultaneously, but all with the same critical-path urgency. I cannot prioritize priorities when everything is priority one.
But the worst part of it is that no matter how deeply I focus, how late I work into the morning, how much caffeine, nicotine, taurine and vitamin unnatural NRG I pump through my veins, I can’t seem to get a damn thing done. Oh, I get things done, but I can’t get them done.
For the 968 things that are going on in my life right now, not a single one of them is anywhere near done. Complete. Finished. Signed, sealed and delivered. I don’t mind having 968 things on my list of things to do. In fact, I love having a ToDo List. However, I have not been able to check off a single thing and it is. Driving. Me. Crazy.
According to my resumé, I am a goal-oriented person. I like objectives. However, more than setting goals, I luuuuurve meeting them. I like to start a project, work feverishly on it, then finish it right before I keel over with exhaustion. Nothing, and I mean nada, gives me more satisfaction than finishing a project (well, there are some things, but let me put it to you this way. I see everything as a “project,” and for certain projects, the emphasis is on “finishing,” ‘k?)
I like to hand over a final deliverable. I like to check something off my list. Yes. I love checking off lists. Here’s a secret though. I like meeting goals so much that sometimes I set very very easy goals just so I can feel complete when I meet them. I like checking off lists so much that I put things on my list that don’t really need to be on a list, but I put them on there anyway, just so I can check them off.
“Charge phone.” Who writes “charge phone” on a to-do list?!?! I do. I even write things on a list that I already did, just so I can see it on my list as checked-off. WTF? Is that cheating? Is it weird? Scratch that. Yes, lunatic, it is weird, but how weird is that? It is very very weird, but I can’t help it.
I think it’s a sickness.
There has to be a name for this ailment, one of many from which I suffer, because I can’t be the only person who suffers from it. There has to have been at least one other person who has complained about it to a doctor, counselor, therapist (*ahem* or blog), which means it is documented, which means it would have obscure-German-doctor’s-last-name’s Syndrome, which means it is official, because if at least two people have it and it is documented, then it is a very real disease. However, searching through WebMD, there was nothing under “makeslistcompulsivelyorelsefeelsincomplete.” That must mean it’s something experienced by only me, in my head, not anyone else and that would make me…
A basket case.
Because I have not been able to check off anything from my list of 968 things in the last few months, I am a basket case.
Strangely enough, I didn’t bake because it relaxes me. Some people find baking a serenely pleasurable activity. For me, baking is quite the opposite, really. Patience with scientific measurements and precise timing is actually stressful to me. I am not a very good baker. I am not even a good baker. When it comes right down to the honest truth that no one would ever say to my face after I’ve baked something and they’ve eaten it because they just aren’t that rude, I suck at baking. It’s not false modesty. I really do suck at baking.
However, neither butcher nor baker, I am an obsessive list maker, and I needed to do something that I could legitimately put on a ToDo List, then check off as complete. I needed to feel like I was getting something done, and done. Baking is a project that can be planned, executed, and completed within the span of about 45 minutes. Brownies are deliverables.
And really, no matter how much I suck at baking, I can’t really screw up brownies.
I feel so much better now.
But I still have 968 things to do.