When eating out in Chinese restaurants, I often see these little pumpkin mochi with pumpkin filling, which are virtually always fried, on the menu. Ma La You Huo, a popular Sichuan restaurant chain in China, is where I first tried them. How adorable and lovely it looked spread out on a long plate like a pumpkin patch complete with creeping vines and leafy foliage. Therefore, these cute little guys came to mind when our Editor-in-Chief recently asked for additional pumpkin dishes to celebrate the upcoming autumn season.
The dough for mochi needs to maintain its shape, hence a small amount of cornstarch or potato starch is also required, although most sweet rice treats solely use sweet rice flour. And use whatever you like for the filling. This pumpkin filling has a wonderful buttery flavor, but I’ve heard that red bean filling is a fan favorite as well. Pumpkin pairs well with many flavors, including chocolate and Nutella.
You can also prepare a pan-fried variation if you like. Make a thin patty instead of a pumpkin form, oil a flat-bottomed skillet, and pan-fry each side (covered) for 5-6 minutes over medium-low heat or until golden. Though not as endearing as the steamed variety, this form of sticky rice cake is excellent if you like a crunchier texture.
- 820g can pumpkin puree (divided: 2 cups + 1 1/2 cups)
- 15 whole cloves
- 2 1/2 cups of sweet rice flour
- 1/2 cup of caster sugar
- 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 3 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- Make the filling first. Butter needs to be melted in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in a third of a cup of sugar, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and two cups of pumpkin puree. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it darkens and becomes a thick paste. You should set up 30 minutes for this. Requires a full cooling-down period.
- At that point, you’ll be ready to start working on the dough. When the filling has cooled, whisk together the sweet rice flour, cornstarch, and caster sugar. Blend in the extra 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree until you have uniform dough. It’s important that the dough is easy to work with. If it breaks easily in your hands, it’s too dry. Just a few drops of water will do. More sweet rice flour may need to be added if the dough is too wet.
- Make 15 small balls from the dough by cutting it into 15 parts. Wrap it in a damp paper towel and cover it. The filling should be divided into 15 equal pieces and rolled into balls once it has cooled.
- Assembling is simplified by rubbing a few drops of water into your palms, which softens the dough and allows for more precise work. Start with a ball of dough, roll it out into a 3-inch circle, and place a filling ball in the center.
- Roll the dough into a smooth ball after closing it over the filling. Lightly squash the ball into a shape resembling a flat pumpkin. Then, make a series of outlines for your pumpkin with a toothpick. Use a clove for the “stem” of your pumpkin.
- Get a steamer ready by filling it with cold water and lining the rack with cheesecloth. Spread the miniature pumpkins out on the steamer rack so that they have a 2-inch gap between each one.
- Use ice water and steam for 10 to 12 minutes before turning on the stove’s high heat. After cooking, the pumpkins should have a transparent appearance.