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What is Mochi Ice Cream? The Ultimate Guide

The Japanese dessert treat

There is no denying that ice cream is one of the best desserts that exist. You can enjoy it at the end of a delicious 3-course meal, you can enjoy it while walking across the beach during Spring Break, and you can always drown your sorrows after a breakup in a large tub of Ben & Jerry’s. Ice cream is great, that is just a simple fact. 

Japanese Mochi ice cream

But one type of ice cream that has taken the world by storm recently is Mochi. Thanks to the rise of TikTok, Mochi ice cream has skyrocketed in popularity, and this ice cream which we once knew little about is now a household name.

But what is Mochi ice cream? In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at what this ice cream/confectionary hybrid is, where it comes from, and lots more. So to find out more, keep on reading. 

What is Mochi Ice Cream?

First things first, let’s take a look at what Mochi ice cream is. As we have said, Mochi ice cream is an ice cream/confectionary hybrid which comes in lots of different flavors. It is of Japanese origin, and because of this, it utilizes some classic Japanese ingredients to form the unique shape and flavor of this treat. 

Mochi ice cream begins with Japanese Mochi. This is made using rice which is pounded and mixed with other ingredients to make it sticky, allowing it to form a ball. If you wanted to compare Mochi to Western cuisine, then the closest comparison would likely be dumpling mix. 

Once the Mochi has been prepared, a round of ice cream is placed inside it, and then the Mochi is stretched and pressed around the outside of the ice cream to form a ball. When you consider dumpling mix combined with ice cream, then this can seem like a very strange combination. But, the confectionery flavor of the ice cream, combined with the sweetness and texture of the Mochi forms a delicious ice cream bite. These bites are only comparable to sweets. 

Traditionally, the flavors that were used to produce Mochi were very limited. Basic ice cream flavors, such as vanilla and chocolate were combined with the Mochi exterior to create sweeter versions of these flavors. But recently, manufacturers have begun to offer more unique and exotic flavor combinations. But where does Mochi ice cream come from? Let’s take a look. 

Japanese ice cream Mochi with pistachios in rice dough
Japanese ice cream Mochi with pistachios in rice dough

Where Does Mochi Ice Cream Come From?

As we have already said, Mochi ice cream is a dish of Japanese descent. However, this doesn’t mean that it was first produced in Japan. The key ingredients used to produce Mochi ice cream do come from Japan, but this dish was actually first created in the USA. It is likely that early versions of this dish were created in Japan, but the person credited with inventing Mochi ice cream, did so in the USA.

That person is Frances Hashimoto, the CEO of Mikawaya. Mikawaya is an American company that specializes in Japanese pastries, snacks, and desserts. It is thought that Hashimoto’s husband was the person who came up with the idea for Mochi ice cream, and Hashimoto is the person who actually made this idea a reality. After the initial design process, production started on Mochi ice cream in 1993, and Mikawaya became the first company to offer these sweet treats. 

Since then, Mochi ice cream has gone through a lot of changes. Mikawaya still offers this treat, but it is very different from the initial Mochi ice cream that entered the market in the early 1990s. Likewise, Mikawaya is no longer the only company to offer Mochi ice cream, so there are lots of different variations available on the market. 

Is Mochi Ice Cream Healthy?

When compared to some of the other treats that you can get on the market, Mochi is still fairly young. Due to this, there are still a lot of rumors surrounding this type of ice cream, because a lot of people still do not understand what it is. One of these rumors is that Mochi ice cream is actually healthy, so let’s take a look at if this is true. 

Green tea mochi ice cream on red plate
Green tea mochi ice cream

Mochi ice cream is an ice cream, so as you would expect, it isn’t exactly the healthiest option. That being said, Mochi ice cream is actually packed with lots of different nutrients which can help your body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, and vitamin-B. All of these nutrients can help strengthen bones, increase energy, and lower your blood pressure. If that wasn’t enough, Mochi ice cream also contains protein (like all ice cream does). 

But just because Mochi ice cream does contain these nutrients, it is worth noting that this doesn’t make it healthy. Mochi ice cream is still high in things such as sugar, and this means that if you eat too much of it, then it will be unhealthy. But as long as you eat Mochi ice cream as a treat, then you will be getting essential nutrients, and a sweet dessert at the same time. 

What does Mochi Ice Cream Taste Like?

colorful mochi ice cream

Like we said earlier, Mochi ice cream is definitely unique, and this can be enough to make some people apprehensive about giving it a try. If you have eaten Mochi before, then you will know that it is delicious. But, if you are a fussy eater, then you might find yourself nervous to try it, simply because you do not know what to expect. So what does Mochi ice cream taste like?

Mochi ice cream is definitely unique, and due to this it has a very distinct flavor too. On its own, Mochi tastes like marshmallows, but has a consistency of gummy candy, so it is very different from what you would first expect. This flavor is even more unique, because once you have eaten it, there is a salty aftertaste that sticks in your mouth. Mochi is usually flavored using things such as green tea, and herbs to sweeten it, and depending on the recipe that is used to create the Mochi, your ice cream will taste very different. 

But what really changes the flavor of your Mochi is the different flavors of ice cream that are used in the middle of it. If you have a bold ice cream flavor, then this will often overpower the flavor of the Mochi, so the flavor of your Mochi ice cream will greatly depend on the ice cream that is used to make it. 

What is the Most Popular Flavor of Mochi?

While Mochi ice cream was a sweet treat that was created in the USA, this is now popular all across the world. If you look at the different countries where Mochi is popular, you will recognize that different flavors are more or less popular in different cultures. 

Mochi Ice cream Balls

Before we look at some of the most popular flavors of Mochi by country, it is important to realize that there are lots of different flavors of Mochi now available on the market. These flavors include things such as:

  • Chocolate
  • Strawberry
  • Vanilla
  • Cookies and Cream
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
  • Mango
  • Red Bean
  • Kona Coffee
  • Matcha 
  • Plum Wine
  • And lots more… 

In the USA, there are two flavors which have been the most popular since Mochi was first created. These are chocolate and vanilla. When it comes to regular ice cream, these are some of the most popular ice creams in the USA, so it makes sense that this is the most popular preference when it comes to Mochi ice cream too. In Japan, red bean is the most popular flavor, and this is primarily because red bean is Japan’s specialty. 

But it isn’t just these countries where Mochi ice cream is popular. In Canada, strawberry Mochi is the country’s preference, and in Italy, they prefer tiramisu flavor Mochi. Finally, in India and China, the flavor preferences are mango and green tea. Mochi has only recently become popular in the United Kingdom, so it is still too early to tell what flavor our friends across the pond prefer. However, when Mochi ice cream was first introduced, it did not have all these flavors on offer. So, what were the first flavors of Mochi to be created?

What are the Traditional Mochi Flavors?

Mochi ice cream might not have as rich a history as some other desserts, but it has still evolved a lot since it was first created in the early 1990s. When Mochi ice cream was first launched by Mikawaya, they offered 3 flavors of Mochi, these were all traditional Japanese flavors. These flavors were green tea, red bean, and mango. As you can see, these traditional flavors are still some of the most popular in Asian countries. 

While Mikawaya was the first company to launch Mochi ice cream, it was other companies that began to introduce new flavors to the market. This was primarily done by a man named Russell Barnett (My/Mochi Ice Cream) who really brought Mochi ice cream into the new millennium. Barnett recognized that Western buyers liked the traditional Japanese flavors, but also saw that they wanted something a little more familiar. Due to this, he began to create flavors including salted caramel, s’mores, and chocolate sundae. It was these flavors which really made Mochi ice cream popular in the USA. 

Since then, the flavors of Mochi ice cream have evolved even further. As an increasing amount of the world’s population is switching to vegan and dairy-free diets, My/Mochi Ice Cream has also begun to produce vegan alternatives. But, the traditional flavors of Mochi have not been forgotten, and most companies still offer mango, green tea, and red bean Mochi ice cream. 

Why is Mochi So Popular?

When it was first introduced to the market in the early 1990s, Mochi ice cream was almost an instant hit. It was new and exciting, and people were eager to get their hands on this new and delightful ice cream. While some flavors were not popular with all Americans, mango was an instant hit, and it cemented the popularity of Mochi in the USA. 

Over time, Mochi ice cream was then introduced into other countries. Variations of Mochi ice cream had already existed in Japan for many years, so when this new type of ice cream was introduced, it was a success. From there, Mochi ice cream began to be sold in India, and China, along with Western countries such as Italy and Canada. 

But it is only very recently that Mochi ice cream has hit the United Kingdom. This is quite surprising really as many US treats crossed the pond a long time ago. However, for whatever reason, Mochi ice cream was not one of them. Mochi ice cream has been sold in the UK, but it hasn’t been that popular. Until now. 

With the dawn of TikTok, people are now following all sorts of different trends that they see on the internet. It is thanks to a handful of TikTok videos that Mochi ice cream finally found popularity across the pond. Suddenly, ‘Little Moons’ were flying off of the shelves, and people couldn’t wait to try them. But it isn’t TikTok to thank for Mochi ice cream being so popular, it might have helped, but the popularity of Mochi ice cream comes from the flavor itself. 

Can you make Mochi Ice Cream Yourself?

As Mochi ice cream is so popular, it can often be difficult to get your hands on it. Not all stores sell this treat, and so you might find yourself unable to find it. In which case, you might consider making it yourself. This is something that can be done, but you should be aware that it will likely taste quite different from Mochi ice cream that you can buy in the store. However, if you want to make it yourself, check out the recipe below. 

How to Make Mochi Ice Cream: A Recipe 

You will Need:

  • Ice Cream
  • Sweet Rice Flour
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Cornstarch 

Instructions:

  1. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out 12 balls of ice cream and place them on a lined baking tray. Lay flat in the freezer. 
  2. Mix sweet rice flour with sugar and water, cover with saran wrap, then place in the microwave for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir until all lumps are gone.
  3. Cover with saran wrap once more and place back in the microwave for a further minute. 
  4. Remove from the microwave and stir once more and add food coloring if you wish. Cover back over and place in the microwave for a further 30 seconds. 
  5. Lay out a large strip of parchment paper and sprinkle with the cornstarch. 
  6. Take the bowl out of the microwave and use a wet spatula to transfer it onto the parchment paper. 
  7. Sprinkle the mixture with cornstarch, then begin to roll it flat using a rolling pin. Then place into the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 
  8. Use a cup or cookie cutter to cut 3.75-inch circles out of the (now flat) mixture, these will form the outside of your Mochi ice cream balls.
  9. With your circles cut, remove the ice cream balls from the freezer and work quickly. 
  10. Take a circle, brush off excess cornstarch, and place the ice cream in the center. Press the edges of the dough around the ice cream ball until it is completely covered. Once the dough has been pressed together, wrap with saran wrap, then place in the freezer. 
  11. Repeat until all the dough circles and ice cream balls are finished. 
  12. Leave in the freezer for at least 2 hours for the ice cream to set, then remove from the freezer 30 minutes before you want to enjoy these treats. 

Summary

In short, Mochi ice cream is an American treat that has Japanese origin. It combines ice cream with Mochi (Japanese sticky rice), and was first created in 1993. Since then it has become very popular in America and all over the world. 

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Written by Brian N

Brian has been an influencer in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years. He not only loves to eat and drink at restaurants on a regular basis, he also knows the business inside and out.