Greetings, June! We’re kicking off the month with a beautiful dessert fit for summer – strawberry cheese mochi.
I love Japanese sweets, and I was more than ready to dive into this mochi dessert. From bits of sleuthing, I learnt that this confection is called daifuku mochi. Daifuku is mochi that encases a sweet filling – most traditionally being red bean paste. The world of daifuku has evolved, and it includes other fillings with creative flavors. Ice cream-filled daifuku is popular too, and the fillings are quite exotic in the Lion City – durian ice cream daifuku is one of them. As I enjoy durians, daifuku featuring the king of fruits look and sound appetizing!
Strawberry is a well-loved daifuku filling. Normally, a piece of strawberry sits in the middle, but this daifuku features a layer reminiscent of strawberry jam. ‘Cheese’, however, caught my eye. An illustration of what seems like a chunky wedge of emmental cheese was printed on the box! After perusing the package, I couldn’t detect new clues as to what type of cheese is used in the daifuku. This led to a million-dollar question: is the filling a crossover of two different realms? I had to find out whether team ‘sweet’ and team ‘savory’ have joined forces in this interesting dessert, or whether it’s regular cream cheese.
From time to time, you’ll come across shredded or grated savory cheeses (like cheddar) in desserts when exploring Southeast Asia. This concept’s kind of like the ‘pineapple on pizza’ idea. It’s an acquired taste, but as always from past foodie expeditions, never judge a book by its cover. What may seem different and strange could turn out to be alright – and before you know it, you’re grabbing seconds!
Although the batch had been sitting in the freezer, the baby pink mochi is wonderful. It’s chewy, soft, and delicate. It isn’t super sticky, thanks to the coat of potato starch, which also adds a ‘snowy’ effect in appearance. Coating mochi with starch is important when making daifuku. Traditional ones use starch (which prevents stickiness), and it’s great that they’ve not deviated from how mochi is supposed to be as a whole. The only part that has a different stamp is the filling, hence being a Japanese-Southeast Asian (made in Malaysia, I must include) fusion.
Now, to answer the million-dollar question. The cheese turns out to be… drum roll… cream cheese! It’s not a cheesecake-ish sweetened cream cheese, but a tangy and slightly savory cream cheese. As it turns out, strawberry jam and cream cheese are like two peas in a pod. Sweet jam goes hand-in-hand with semi-savory cream cheese. In my opinion, they nailed sweet to savory ratio. I expected more cheese as it’s depicted as a thicker layer on the box. I’m so, so glad that the jam’s quantity wasn’t reduced to make way for extra cheese.
Biting into this daifuku was a lovely journey. Mochi (which I reckon has a light strawberry taste when I tasted it on its own) comes through first, followed by cream cheese. Finally, strawberry jam comes into the picture and seals the bite. The cohesiveness of flavors and textures that the trio of primary components deliver is impressive.
Texture-wise, they’re soft – but not too soft to the extent it’ll collapse when you hold it or cut into it. They did tumble around the plate when I attempted to stack them, but they miraculously held their sphere-like shape. No piece was harmed, except when I sliced and bit into them!
All in all, this daifuku mochi is a delicious start to summer. I hope that summer and the rest of 2020 will be sweet and beautiful, like this lovely pink daifuku.
We’re wrapping up this post with timeless words of wisdom.
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope” – Maya Angelou
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too” – Paulo Coelho
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted” – Aesop