You may be thinking…What in the world is Korean red bean mochi cake? And red beans in dessert? Hmm..weird yet oddly intriguing. If so, you’re not alone. When I first made this for my non-Korean friends, I was met with a lot of nonverbal resistance – raised eyebrows, nose scrunching.. you know how it goes. Their politeness totally paid off this time, though, as their eyes lit up upon first bite.
I’ve been eating plenty of sweet red beans here in Korea, mainly in the form of “patbingsoo,” which is basically a shaved ice dessert with various toppings, such as fruit, rice cake, and of course sweet red beans. Most of the coffee shops (and there are plenty of them here) sell it, and it is a perfect way to cool off during the hot summer months. I must say though, it is not cheap – about $11 per bowl. While you may think that’s not too bad considering its massive size, to put it into perspective, you can eat a delicious bowl of Korean soup or noodles for about $6-7. Nevertheless, the Hungryman and I continue to eat it almost everyday.
Sweet red beans are also in mochi and various breads.
This recipe is particularly special because it’s one of the few recipes from my mom that actually contains exact ingredient measurements. I can be sure that it will taste exactly the same every time. Just to brag a little, my mom’s cooking skills are well-known in the Korean community in Houston, although I’m sure someone else has risen to fame since her move to Korea. While I applaud her ability to whip up anything off the top of her head, it makes things slightly…just a tad bit hard for her faithful assistant, yours truly. She takes the concept of “let your hands guide you” to a whole new level. They move seamlessly, not once touching a measuring spoon.
Furthermore, it is rare that she would bake sweets. Come to think of it, I think this red bean mochi cake is the only dessert that she’s ever baked for the family. At least she understands that baking is like science and that the eyeballing it method would not go so smoothly. Thank you, mom, for writing down the recipe for me to share with the whole world! 😉
I will say that you’ll need to make a trip to an Asian grocery store to make this cake. Look for this Mochiko sweet rice flour and a can of red bean paste. If you’re on a gluten-free diet, no worries. Even though the packaging may say “glutinous” rice flour, it is made completely of rice and contains no gluten. All the other ingredients you can purchase at your go-to store.
The recipe calls for whole milk, but you can feel free to substitute with whatever kind you prefer. I’ve tried it with low-fat milk and almond milk, and while it’s still pretty good, I’m biased toward the one that I’ve grown up eating.
All you need is one big bowl. There’s no need to mix the dry and the wet ingredients separately and combine (even though it’s just one extra step and one less bowl to clean, somehow it becomes a thousand times more fuss-less). Just dump all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk everything together. Then simply pour into a greased baking pan and bake for about 45 minutes.
Although I named this “cake,” it’s really more like a cross between a bread and cake. Not so light and spongy in texture, but rather dense and chewy. I actually like to make this ahead of time (usually the night before) and leave it covered as I find that the flavors really get more pronounced – a bit sweeter and even chewier. Let this recipe serve as a base and feel free to add other ingredients. I like to add roasted chestnuts and walnuts. Enjoy!
- 1 pack (1 lb.) box Mochiko (or sweet rice flour)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 eggs
- 2½ cups milk
- ½ stick butter, melted
- 1 can (18oz.) sweetened red bean paste
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.
- Bake for about 45 minutes.
- Cool completely before cutting into squares.