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How to Make Your Own Mochi Ice Cream (& Spare Yourself from Trader Joe's)

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Soft mochi—smooth and pillowy and cotton ball-light—needn't be messed with. But if you had to—let's say it's August (yes) and a billion degrees outside (yes) and you wish your big toe could be submerged in an ice bath at all times (yes, yes, yes)—you could combine it with ice cream. And not just combine it with ice cream, but wrap it around the scoops to make a handheld and highly adorable dessert.

You know the kind: You buy them at Trader Joe's or order them at sushi restaurants or from fancy websites (?).

A little wonky, yes—and with a close resemblance to dinosaur eggs?
A little wonky, yes—and with a close resemblance to dinosaur eggs? Photo by Linda Xiao

With only two component parts (mochi, ice cream), they're simple—if not necessarily easy—to make at home. (And personally, I do everything in my power to avoid the New York City Trader Joe's lines.)

Because the mochi needs to engulf the ice cream balls, you'll have to contort it in a slightly unnatural way, manipulating (and warming, and melting) the ingredients much more than for a typical ice cream sandwich. In summer's heat, it's a bit of a masochistic pursuit—but not an impossible one. It's fun! And you can choose whatever combination of mochi (matcha, black sesame, vanilla, mint) and ice cream (cookies and cream, strawberry, chocolate) you want.

Photo by Linda Xiao

You'll need to track down sweet glutinous rice flour and your favorite store-bought ice cream (it's easier to work with than homemade), but once you've got those, you're good to go.


These tips will make the process easier:

  • You'll need to scoop and refreeze the ice cream well before assembly. Portion them into a mini muffin tin or an egg carton lined with plastic wrap.
  • You want your mochi to be cool but also very fresh. As mochi sits, it becomes drier and less elastic, which means it'll be more prone to tearing as you try to stretch it around the little ice cream scoop. Since mochi-making takes only about 30 minutes from start to finish, I recommend starting that process when the individual ice cream balls are already frozen solid.
Act fast!
Act fast! Photo by Linda Xiao
  • As you're making the mochi, be generous with the cornstarch to avoid stickiness. You can always dust it off later! I also recommend sifting the cornstarch to avoid big clumps.
  • Plastic wrap is here to help. Place each mochi round on a generous piece of plastic wrap, then use the excess to help gather and smush the mochi around the ice cream: You'll be able to belt it all together and then shove it in the freezer—all ice cream leaks will be contained until they refreeze.
Now you see the ice cream, now you don't.
Now you see the ice cream, now you don't. Photo by Linda Xiao
  • And plastic gloves will help, too: They'll protect the ice cream from the warmth of your hands.
Plastic wrap helps to hold everything in until the ice cream has a chance to re-freeze.
Plastic wrap helps to hold everything in until the ice cream has a chance to re-freeze. Photo by Linda Xiao
  • If possible, work with one ball of ice cream at a time (and in close proximity to the freezer).
  • Let your mochi soften a bit at room temp before attempting to slice or bite or serve to friends. The mochi layer needs some time to relax back into its naturally soft state.
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Mochi Ice Cream

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Makes about 8 balls of ice cream
  • Storebought ice cream of your choosing
  • 3/4 cup sweet glutinous rice flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Potato starch, cornstarch, or additional rice flour, for dusting

Would you rather eat mochi ice cream or just plain mochi? And what's your favorite flavor combination? Tell us in the comments!

Tags: mochi, ice cream, mochi ice cream