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Chocolate Mochi Snack Cake

March 12, 2015
14 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

If you were to cut yourself a slice of the deep chocolate, shatter-topped, brownie-like cake pictured above, how big would you make your piece? Most of us would be fairly conservative, if not in an act of modesty than in one of prudence–no one likes to be caught halfway in the middle of a sea of too-rich cake without a life preserver.

But what you don't know about this cake is that as dense and rich and indulgent as it looks–as much as it could pass for a nearly-flourless chocolate cake–it is none of those things.

I'd like to make a case for why this mochi cake–more squishy than gooey, more subtle than sweet–is better. And it starts with the fact that, with its surprising spring and spryness, it is inhalable.

See, on the chart of Words Often Used to Describe Cake, "squishy"–the most apt description for mochi cake–is overlooked ("soggy" appears twice because it is particularly offensive). We talk about light cake–the angel food "cake" you'll eat and eat and feel nothing at all, making you question your humanness. We talk about dense cake–the loaf that sinks straight to the bottom of your stomach and lives there for some time, during which you'll want to nap.

What we don't talk about is squishy cake–the kind that gives a little when you press a finger in it and then bounces back, recovering from your violation. Squishy cakes are light enough to snack on and chewy enough to distinguish themselves from air. You can eat a lot of it (yes, with your hands) and, more importantly, you'll want to. In 2015, I'm going to make more squishy cakes. I'm going to describe cakes as squishy and people are going to nod in understanding and ask to share. I'll probably say no.

It's glutinous rice flour–ground from the same grain used to make sticky rice–that makes this cake chewy, gummy, and a little bit gelatinous (in the greatest possible sense). If you've ever had Japanese mochi or Filipino palitaw, you'll understand this cake's playful stretchiness and light stickiness. For an even more intense textural experience, leave out the tablespoon of baking soda that gives the rice flour a major boost and you'll come away with something even more closely resembling a giant sheet of mochi.

If the texture of the cake isn't what you were expecting from the photos, neither is the taste. The chocolate flavor tips more towards mild than dramatic, reminiscent of chocolate Teddy Grahams, which, after the chocolate chip grahams, were always the best in the variety box. If you're unsatisfied with that subtlety, bake with flavored sugars. I made this cake for the first time using Mexican chocolate-flavored sugar because I was out of plain, and it added dimension to the cake.

A note on mochi: I love mochi. I love mochi so much, I named my cat Mochi. But not all people like its smushy texture and delicate flavor. I do not understand these people, but they do, indeed, exist. There are even some people who love me very much and who respect my love for mochi but who do not love mochi themselves. This is okay. I will be at peace with this. If you know you do not like mochi, I fear you will not like this cake. It's worth a shot, but do not say I didn't warn you.

This recipe is from the The Polynesian Cultural Center by way of Use Real Butter. —Sarah Jampel

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Makes one 9- by 13-inch cake
  • 2 cups (9 1/4 ounces) glutinous rice flour, like Mochiko brand
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (6 1/2 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 24 ounces evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, beaten
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F and grease a 9- by 13-inch baking pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Heat the butter and the chocolate chips together in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until you have a smooth mixture.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. With the mixer running on low, add the evaporated milk, vanilla, and eggs and mix until incorporated.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until the batter is smooth and lump-less. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the cake no longer jiggles. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
  6. This cake should be stored at room temperature rather than refrigerated.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Caitlyn
  • Maya M Hokolatte
    Maya M Hokolatte
  • Jennifer Maestas
    Jennifer Maestas
  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
    Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.

43 Reviews

Suzanne T. April 5, 2019
We’re from Hawaii and wanted to take mochi to an event at my daughter’s new school in Colorado. Just made this recipe (doubled the batch) and it’s delicious!!! Just like a dessert from back home. Will definitely make again!
Cheryl July 21, 2018
Hi, I only have a 9" x 13" glass baking dish at home. Would that work for this recipe? Appreciate any insights/advice! Hoping as far as possible to not botch my first attempt... Thanks!
hanne November 15, 2018
Cheryl, I'm betting that you tried the recipe anyways and I hope it turned out great. I always use a glass 9" x 13" when I make this recipe and it turns out nicely every time.
Cheryl January 8, 2019
Hi! Happened to bake this again today and saw your reply. YES I did try it the last time and it was awesome!! :D Thanks :)
egam March 8, 2018
So good!! I added a tablespoon or so of instant espresso which was delicious. I don’t think I incorporated everything as well as I should have into the melted chocolate so I put the mix through a strainer before baking .
tia December 16, 2017
I tried freezing the leftovers and I am happy to report that they freeze well! I cut the cake into pieces and wrapped them in plastic but I bet you could freeze bigger pieces, too. I just let it sit on the counter to defrost. It's not quite as good as fresh, but it's a nice thing to have stashed away for the occasional treat!
Caitlyn December 6, 2016
Since I first came across this recipe just about 2 years ago, it is my go-to baked good for potlucks, bake sales, or just because. Everyone always goes wild for it. I am curious if anyone has experimented with additions. My thoughts were to add chocolate chips to the batter before putting in the pan to bake, perhaps to give a little bonus, gooey chocolate treat. I'm also curious if anyone has made a cake with this, in the sense that you added some sort of filling and layered this cake on itself? The only way I can bake is if I follow recipes to a T so any insights on anyone's experiments would be appreciated (Such as Katy's experimentation with nutella. Yum!)! Thank you!
katy March 2, 2016
I used Nutella ~6-7 oz, instead on chocolate chips and it came out amazing. Thanks for the yummy recipe!!
grace January 28, 2021
Hi, did you then omit the 2 cups of sugar? because nutella is pretty sweet. thanks in advance!
Maya M. December 9, 2015
I wanted a moister cake like texture could I use chocolate pudding in a box along with sugar and mochi glutinous powder?
Andreana L. August 3, 2015
I made this yesterday and gave it to my parents in law and good neighbors. They all loved it! It's not too sweet nor dense and the springy squishy texture is wonderful. I am curious if anyone has tried green tea version of this cake. I'd appreciate it if you can share how much green tea powder/measurements to mix as well as whether to incorporate it into the flour or with the butter.
Author Comment
Sarah J. August 3, 2015
I haven't tried a green tea version, but we do have a variation on this type of cake, with green tea and coconut, here: It's not quite the same light texture, but you could use the amount of matcha in that recipe as a starting point! I'd incorporate it into the dry ingredients.
Andreana L. August 4, 2015
Thanks Sarah, I'll give it a try with green tea =)
Jennifer M. July 18, 2015
Do you think you can freeze leftovers?
witloof June 28, 2015
I made this for a potluck dinner on Saturday night and it flew right off the table. The gluten free people were thrilled! I added a tablespoon of instant coffee to the chocolate mixture and used homemade vanilla sugar. Everyone loved it. I'd definitely make this again.
Nancy Y. June 25, 2015
I followed this recipe exactly how it is. It was DELICIOUS and so easy. I let it cook for a full 60 minutes and was still worried that it was undercooked in the middle. It was fine though and perfectly cooked! I highly recommend this -- my coworkers and friends loved it!
Author Comment
Sarah J. June 25, 2015
Hooray! So happy to hear this.
Farah May 19, 2015
Hi Sarah,
This was was good! Nice and squishy and not overly chocolate-y. (I reduced the sugar to 86g as my mum can't take sweet stuff.) Thanks for the recipe!
I like it all squishy but my daughter would prefer it a little less squishy though. Hence, am planning to leave out the baking soda the next time. However, I came across some recipes which used baking powder (and a lot less milk) instead. Would the texture be very different if using baking powder instead (of baking soda or with no leavening at all) do you think?
LeBec F. May 19, 2015
farah, leaveners- i.e. baking soda and bak powder- are what would make the mocha cake LESS squishy because they cause rising of/air in the batter. So, if anything, if you wanted less Mochi and more Cake- you would use more leavening and/or some flour. It is the mocha (think short grain rice all stuck together) that is squishy because it is rice and not wheat flour.
Farah May 21, 2015
Alright, will give it a try. Thanks for the info. :)
MMitra April 15, 2015
I made this last night after getting all the ingredients together. It's delicious! I'm sharing it with my food exchange buddy today! Thank you!
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 15, 2015
That warms my heart!
LeBec F. April 15, 2015
p.s. sarah, I'm always wanting to experiment and add stuff! Any thoughts about doing a filling layer that bakes along with the cake? Could you divide the base into 2 batches- 1 chocolate and 1 different (maybe green tea mochi). Is the mochi batter thick enough that one could lay down a layer of chocolate and then a green tea mochi batter layer and lastly choc. again-- and have the layers stay distinct?
And have you tried any other experimenting w/ additions: nuts, sesame seeds, dried fruit, extracts, coffee powder....? If certain things have been tried but were not good, that would be v helpful info! Thx again for this inspiration! (I'm getting all these ideas because we have a new Korean bakery here in Boston,
and they make fried mochi donuts filled with adzuki paste (anh) and I'm addicted!)
LeBec F. April 15, 2015
sarah, I hope I didn't insult you with my ideas. Very inspiring recipe!
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 15, 2015
No—you did not insult me at all! I just haven't tried these things. I desperately want to visit that bakery in Boston because it sounds amazing, and I'd love to know how the cake turns out with two layers! I haven't tried using brown rice powder or flour—I'm not sure it would work because the recipe relies on glutinous rice for its texture!
LeBec F. April 16, 2015
hi sarah, whew! so, 2 things for you to know:
1) short grain sticky brown rice does exist I believe, so SOMEBODY must make flour/powder from it!
2) I wrote Bob's Red Mill and their brown rice flour/powder is NOT from brown sticky rice. So I am still looking for some.
Author Comment
Sarah J. May 19, 2015
Thanks for the info!
LeBec F. April 15, 2015
sarah, one more reason to admire your 52 contributions! Tell me, have you ever tried using brown rice powder/flour? I bought some that appears korean but it doesn't say ANYthing other than Brown Rice Powder, and I don't know if it is sticky rice powder or just regular brown rice...!
donna B. March 31, 2015

i see the the recipe says to store at room temperature which is great because i'd like to make it and ship it 2 day air. do you think it'll travel well and will it mold if it has evapororated milk in 2 days? thanks. i'm dying to try this recipe and i can't even eat cake. thank you. donna in snohomsih
Erica March 24, 2015
I can't eat egg. Is there anything I can substitute for them in this recipe?
Isa June 11, 2020
We have subbed flax eggs before, and today we are making it with 1/4 cup water, 4 teaspoons baking powder, and 2 teaspoons oil (for the two required eggs). We have also made it with eggs, and nobody can tell the difference, so we tend to just hold off on them. We have also made it vegan with coconut oil and evaporated coconut milk (we evaporated it ourselves...). That version is also quite nice with a slight coconut flavor.
Joy H. March 23, 2015
I made this yesterday and couldn't stop eating it. The texture is so different from anything else I've ever had, kind of in between regular cakes and mochi. I have a silly question though: what makes this a "snack cake" vs. just a "cake"? I've seen that term used to describe a few other recipes on this site and am wondering what the difference is.
Beth March 19, 2015
Is it possible to use almond flour rather than rice flour?
Author Comment
Sarah J. March 19, 2015
I'm afraid the texture won't be at all the same. Glutinous rice flour is really the key ingredient here!
Beth March 19, 2015
Got it. Thanks--can't wait to try it! :)
Melanie March 16, 2015
I halved this recipe, and baked it in a 9 inch round cake pan. I only used 3/4 c. of organic cane sugar and substituted full fat coconut milk for the evaporated milk. I baked it for 35 min. The texture is really interesting (springy, light) and the flavor is delicious. A nice alternative to wheat flour and super easy for a week night dessert. Thank you!
Author Comment
Sarah J. March 16, 2015
So glad you enjoyed it!
LeBec F. May 19, 2015
Melanie, it is 52ers like you that I appreciate so much because you contribute to the whole body of knowledge about a recipe. And this is particularly important with such a new ingredient-glutinous rice flour/powder! thx so much.
Melanie March 30, 2016
Just saw your comment, Le Bec Fin. Thank you! I was just recently wondering how folks who post recipes feel about those of us who make adaptations to recipes as written. :-)