Berkeley’s Much-Heralded Mochi Muffins
Ever since discovering the joys of butter mochi in Hawaii a few years ago, I’ve been on a mochi kick.
I can’t get enough of the chewy, bouncy texture that sweet rice flour gives to baked goods.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to take a plane across the Pacific — only a drive to the East Bay to get my latest fix.
After hearing the praises of the mochi muffins made by Pastry Chef Sam Butarbutar, I finally had a chance to buy a few ($3.50 each) when I dropped by Catahoula Coffee Co. on Fourth Street in Berkeley.
The Indonesian-born Butarbutar, who worked at Lazy Bear in San Francisco when it was merely a pop-up concept, struck out on his own as a pastry chef. His Sam’s Patisserie is located inside the coffee house. When customers kept requesting gluten-free treats, he started experimenting with the rice flour.
While he bakes other items, the mochi muffins are his best-seller. They’re like butter mochi, but baked in an individual portion. Heady with the vanilla-like perfume from pandan leaves, and flecked with black and white sesame seeds, these little cakes are irresistible. They’re deeply golden and crunchy on the outside, and sticky-chewy inside. They look austere but pack an almost caramelized richness from butter and coconut milk.
It’s the perfect pick-me-up after a day of shopping on Fourth Street.
More Mochi Love: Butter Mochi