All the nutty deliciousness of black sesame seeds. Plus, the squishy, chewy fun of mochi!
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with black sesame seeds. This nutty, savory little seed makes everything taste better.
Especially dessert. As you know, I’m not a big sweets fan. But adding black sesame powder to anything dessert-y adds instant richness, depth, and savory oomph.
In my quest to find the perfect black sesame dessert, a friend told me about mochi cake. Squishy, chewy mochi transformed into cake-like form? I had to give it a try.
Mochi cake is an Asian-fusion dessert with Hawaiian roots. Using Hawaiian Butter Mochi as a base, I tinkered and toyed until I made a Black Sesame Mochi Cake recipe that I loved! And couldn’t stop baking and eating!
Take one bite and you’ll agree — Black Sesame Seed Mochi Cake is the chewy dessert that is so satisfying to eat. Bouncy and springy. Unexpectedly fun. Plus, the dark, moody color! This recipe feels sophisticated yet it’s so easy to put together. An upscale party in a 9×13″ pan!
Canned Milk. Mochi cake is classically made with two kinds of canned milk: Coconut Milk and Evaporated Milk. When you live on a tiny, volcanic island far from land-grazing cattle (i.e., Hawaii) , canned milk is easier-to-find and cheaper than fresh milk. Canned milk lasts forever. And requires no refrigeration.
All to say — you could make mochi cake with regular milk. But I’ve decided to stay true to the Asian-fusion, Hawaiian origins of this cake by using canned milk.
Black Sesame Seeds. You can buy black sesame seeds and toast and grind them yourself. But if you want to skip a step, by all means — buy the powdered version from the Asian grocery store! So much easier!
Glutinous (Sweet) Rice Flour. This recipe calls for GLUTINOUS RICE FLOUR not regular rice flour. Yes, there is a difference. (FYI Glutinous Rice Flour and Glutinous Sweet Rice Flour are the same.)
Glutinous means sticky and that’s exactly what you need. Glutinous Rice Flour will give mochi cake that characteristically chewy, bouncy texture.
Can I halve this recipe?
Yes, I’ve successfully halved this recipe in a 8×8 pan! The cook time stays the same at 1 hour.
If a 9×13 pan is too much mochi cake for you — another alternative is to make the regular recipe, eat one half, and freeze the other half. Mochi freezes very well. Cut into squares before freezing to defrost by individual portions. When you’re ready to eat, let it come to room temperature by setting it on the counter. Or lightly reheat in a toaster oven/Air Fryer/oven, about 5 minutes at 350F.
Can I substitute the evaporated milk with a plant-based milk?
Yes, the canned evaporated milk can be subbed with almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, and regular milk. You can also use 2 cans of coconut milk instead of using 1 can coconut milk and 1 can evaporated milk.
This recipe is very forgiving and any kind of milk should work! I like to use evaporated milk for the ease and convenience, and also — to celebrate its Hawaiian origins.
Why is my mochi cake not as dark as yours?
I’m not sure why! I’ve baked this cake by using black sesame powder bought from the store AND by grinding my own. Each time, the interior comes out dark and rich in color.
If you grind your own sesame seeds, they may need more processing. Grind the seeds until they release some of their oil. This takes longer than you think. Look for a powder-like texture that clumps and sticks together.
The outer crust, though, is usually brown. Sometimes, the crust looks more black in some places. But the edges and tops are almost always brown.
How do I determine for doneness?
Determining for doneness can be challenging. The skewer test will not work, as the batter will remain moist and sticky even when fully baked. Instead, check for doneness by looking for edges that are brown and naturally pull away from the pan. Give the pan a little shake — the center of the cake should be set with no jiggle.
How to Make Black Sesame Mochi Cake:
To toast: add black sesame seeds to a dry saucepan over medium heat. Toss the seeds from time to time or mix with a wooden spoon, until they begin to crackle and smoke, about 3-5 minutes.
To grind: Transfer seeds to a food processor. Pulse until seeds are finely processed into powder. Be careful here — there is a fine line between powder and paste. Pulse the seeds until the oil starts to release and clumps together just a bit; the powder will look moist. But exercise caution — if you pulse too much, you will end up with tahini paste!
(If you buy black sesame powder, skip this step.)
Scrape black sesame powder into a large bowl. Add sugar and melted coconut oil. For extra coconut flavor + fragrance, also add coconut extract (optional ingredient). Whisk until well combined.
Add eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition.
Whisk in evaporated milk and coconut milk.
Whisk in glutinous sweet rice flour, baking powder, and salt.
Pour into a well-oiled 9×13″ pan.
In a small bowl, combine remaining 1 Tbsp black sesame seeds and 1 Tbsp white sesame seeds. Sprinkle along the edge of the pan.
Slide carefully into the oven and bake until done. Cool for 1 hour and cut with a serrated knife. Enjoy!
Black Sesame Mochi Cake
- 9×13 pan
- 3/4 cup black sesame seeds (or 3/4 cup black sesame powder, if you want to skip roasting and grinding the seeds)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted) (regular vegetable oil also works)
- 1 tsp coconut extract (optional – for extra coconut flavor + fragrance)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 400ml/13.5 oz can coconut milk (full fat, not the boxed kind)
- 1 354ml/12 oz can evaporated milk
- 3 cups glutinous (sweet) rice flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp black sesame seeds
- 1 Tbsp white sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Generously brush a 9×13 baking pan with melted coconut oil.
- To toast: add black sesame seeds to a dry saucepan over medium heat. Toss the seeds from time to time or mix with a wooden spoon, until they begin to crackle and smoke, about 3-5 minutes.
- To grind: Transfer seeds to a food processor. Pulse until seeds are finely processed into powder, about 30-60 seconds. Be careful here — there is a fine line between powder and paste. Pulse the seeds until the oil starts to release and the seeds clump together just a bit; the powder will look moist. But exercise caution — if you pulse too much, you will end up with tahini paste!
- Scrape sesame seeds into a large bowl. Whisk in sugar and melted coconut oil and coconut extract, if using.
- Add eggs, one by one, whisking well after each addition.
- Whisk in evaporated milk and coconut milk, making sure the batter is smooth and lump-free.
- Whisk in glutinous sweet rice flour, baking powder, and salt, making sure the batter is smooth and lump-free.
- Pour into 9×13 pan. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1 Tbsp black sesame seeds and 1 Tbsp white sesame seeds. Sprinkle along the edge of the pan. (If you prefer, double the amount of both sesame seeds and sprinkle completely over the entire top, not just on the edges.)
- Slide carefully into oven and bake until done, about 60 minutes. Checking for doneness will be challenging, as the batter will remain moist and sticky even when fully baked. Instead, check for doneness by looking for brown edges that naturally pull away from the pan. Give the pan a little shake — the center of the cake should be set with no jiggle. Cool for 1 hour (at least) at room temperature. Cut with a serrated knife into 24 squares.