know thyself – coconut mochi cake w sweet red bean filling (gluten-free)

by hungryrabbit on July 26, 2012

Coconut Mochi Cake w Sweet Red Bean Filling (gluten-free)

Confession time: this dessert baker has been cutting down on gluten and sugar. As an experiment–and thanks to one of my instructors at the gym–I’m eating less gluten and processed sugar in order to increase my energy level.

When I started this project to change my diet, my first thought was that I could never give up my desserts. Well, I didn’t need to slip down that path: it’s all about moderation. Many of you have asked how I can stay in shape and eat all the desserts that I bake (and sample from bakeries and restaurants). The simple answer is I don’t consume that much. I always share my desserts that I post here with friends. There have been a few incidents where M loved something so much that we would eat more than our fair share, but we would cut down on the next batch.

According to some experts, the secret to a diet is not to deprive yourself of the foods your crave but to know which ones and how much best suit your metabolism. I’m refining what my balance is so I can achieve an improved level of health while not feeling deprivations of vital culinary consumption. (There’s an awful lot that feels vital.)

When it comes to sweets, I still long for a sweet ending to a nice meal. I yearn for a nice treat to go with my afternoon coffee. By no means do I want to crush these desires–I seek alternate solutions that deliver satisfaction on a healthier plane. In this case, I wanted to combine two favorite childhood food sensations: chewiness of mochi and the earthiness of red beans. Though the red bean filling is cooked in sugar, it can still be a wise choice–in moderation.

Coconut Mochi Cake w Sweet Red Bean Filling

recipe adapted from Rachel Laudan
yield: Makes 12 large or 48 mini-squares


3 cups (16 ounces) mochiko (sweet rice flour)
2-1/2 cups (17-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 (14-oz) cans unsweetened coconut milk
5 large eggs, room temperature
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure coconut extract
1 can (16-18 ounces) sweetened red bean paste


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350℉.

2. Whisk together mochiko, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together coconut milk, eggs, butter, and extracts in another bowl. Add coconut mixture to flour mixture, whisking until batter is combined.

3. Pour batter into an ungreased 13- by 9-inch baking pan, smoothing top, and bake until top is golden and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 1-1/2 hours. Remove cake from oven and cool completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours.

4. Remove cake from baking pan, trim edges. Split cake horizontally in half. Spread red bean paste over cut side of bottom layer of cake, top with top layer. Cut cake into squares and serve.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Margaret July 26, 2012 at 10:51 pm

So far, I’m loving all your GF desserts. These were delicious! Can’t wait to see and taste what you’ll make next. xoxo

Amy @ fragrantvanillacake July 26, 2012 at 10:51 pm

I too have been cutting back on the sugar lately, and feel great as a result! But you are right, one must indulge once in a while ;). This sounds delicious! I love the red bean filling!

Brian @ A Thought For Food July 26, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Well, I guess if you’re going to give up gluten, this is a dessert that will still hit the spot. I love everything about it!

Can’t wait to see you tomorrow!

Betty Ann @Mango_Queen July 26, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Oh how delish! And your photos are gorgeous! Are you bringing some of these to BSP3, Ken? Thanks for sharing the recipe~ I have all these ingredients so I must try this soon!

Colette July 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm

OMG My mouth’s watering. I’m putting this on the docket for baking tonight! Cheers.

Liren July 29, 2012 at 1:37 am

Ken, I have been trying (though not successfully), to cut back on my baking, but like you, always need a sweet ending to the evening meal or with my afternoon coffee. There is absolutely no way I would be able to resist this, and the kiddos would go ga ga over it too. You know we’re a family of mochi lovers! Reminds me of daifuku! I must make this. Hope you’re having fun at BSP, wish I were there, too! xo

Javelin Warrior August 3, 2012 at 12:13 am

I’m so intrigued by the use of red beans in this dessert – such a cool idea and it sounds delicious! And it’s so true – if I cut out dessert and try to abstain, all that happens is an unrelenting craving that ultimately leads to a binge :( Thanks so much for sharing this post and I’m featuring this post in today’s Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and I love the inspiration I get from your food…

carrian August 3, 2012 at 12:14 am

I’m a big believer in balance in all things, and healthy options more often than not. I love the idea behind these babies. Can’t wait to try it out.

jean February 3, 2013 at 7:20 pm

I made these for a pot luck – and they were a big hit! Thanks for the recipe! =)

Deepika November 16, 2013 at 6:25 pm

I love this combination! one of my fav!
I did try this recipe, but my batter seemed a bit runny rather than batter like you would have a cake? Is it meant to be that way?
After baking it, I couldn’t get the cake out of the pan and also I didn’t get enough height to cut the cake I n half for the red bean?
Is there something I’ve not done right in the recipe?
Would love some advice and help! Thnx a lot! Dee x

hungryrabbit November 16, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Hi Deepika, thanks for visiting my blog and tried my recipe. The batter is not thick like a cake batter. I suspect the reason that your cake didn’t rise is because your baking powder has expired and lost it’s strength. I hope you’ll try this again with much success. Happy Baking -Ken

Foodie January 2, 2014 at 1:41 pm

This looks very tasty. I want to make this. My son is allergic to eggs and milk. Can I omit the eggs and butter or substitute with something else?

hungryrabbit January 2, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Hi there, you can substitute coconut oil for the butter, as for eggs, I’m not sure what’s a good alternative. -Ken

Jess February 28, 2014 at 5:16 am

I just made this. It’s so yummy, but it’s difficult to cut without the red bean spilling out from the sides. Did you cut the mochi first before spreading the red bean? Yours looks a lot neater.

And how should I store the mochi cake if I’m making it a day ahead?

Lauren March 1, 2014 at 12:53 am

Hi there. Just something to be aware of, or at least in South Africa, not all baking powders are GF. The packaging of the ones that are will specifically say so. Otherwise does baking soda work?

hungryrabbit March 1, 2014 at 1:53 am

Hi Lauren, thanks for the heads up. Baking soda might work but I haven’t tried but it will not be a direct substitute. -Ken

hungryrabbit March 1, 2014 at 1:55 am

Hi Jess, I cut it cakes after the red bean filling is spread. each brad has a different consistency, make sure you get the ones that are more solid and pasty. It also helps to use a warm knife for cleaner cuts. -Ken

Ann-Li March 26, 2014 at 9:34 am

I made them last night, subbing coconut oil for butter and brown sugar for granulated – because that’s what I had on hand. Also – I baked them in a cupcake tin for about 30 min. So delicious that I may make another batch this weekend! Thank you!!!

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