Raspberries and matcha flavor this unique mochi butter cake from Republique.
When Campanile restaurant and its adjacent La Brea Bakery closed in Los Angeles in 2012, I admit I shed a tear.
After all, Chef Mark Peel and Pastry Chef Nancy Silverton (then a married couple) together had created two of the most landmark establishments in the city, with the Wolfgang Puck-proteges turning out stupendous California cuisine, and extraordinary artisan breads and baked goods. In fact, the bakery was always my last stop, where I loaded up on pretzel bread and ginger scones before flying or driving home to the Bay Area.
But the iconic Spanish building that Charlie Chaplin supposedly built couldn’t have gotten better new tenants than Walter and Margarita Manzke. The couple lovingly remodeled it, maintaining its spirit, to open their Republique in 2013. It even features a bakery in the exact same spot that La Brea Bakery once operated, only now it is fully connected to the restaurant.
If you’ve ever visited the bakery, you know it’s nearly impossible to take your eyes off the front-and-center glass case overflowing with cookies, tarts, cream puffs, breads and assorted pastries of about 50 varieties. And if you’ve had the pleasure of sinking your teeth into any of them, then you know just how skillfully they are made.
Made with dark brown sugar, coconut milk, evaporated milk and mochiko flour, these little treats are gluten-free.
Anyone who has followed my blog for awhile knows about my love for butter mochi.
I can’t resist this Hawaiian baked good made with glutinous rice flour, which gives it a wondrous chewy texture like a big gummi bear.
For those with celiac disease, it has the added bonus of being gluten-free, too.
So when I spied a recipe for “Brown-Butter Mochi” in the New York Times a few months ago, I tore it out, eager to try it.
The recipe is from Berkeley’s Samin Nosrat, a writer, cooking teacher and former cook at Chez Panisse, who recently wrote the seminal, best-selling “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking” (Simon & Schuster).
She first learned to make butter mochi in a standard large cake pan from a friend’s recipe. But then she started tinkering, rejiggering the recipe to use two muffin tins instead. She also incorporated brown butter, which of course, is always a worthwhile addition.
Butter mochi — my downfall.
Last week, I gorged myself.
And I blame Chef Jeffrey Stout for it.
You see, after a recent trip to Hawaii, I happened to post a photo on Facebook of a unique sweet treat that I enjoyed there that was quite new to me: butter mochi.
Stout, former chef of Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino who’s now building his own restaurant, Orchard City Kitchen in Campbell, did what any self-respecting chef would do when he spied the photo and sensed my longing — he emailed me a recipe for it.
It was far easier to make than I thought it would be. When I tried a piece, I immediately ate a second, then had to restrain myself from reaching for a third.
Chef, what have you done!
The recipe comes from Stout’s neighbor, Taryn Esperas, who has been known to make this for neighborhood block parties, where it’s always one of the first things to be gobbled up.
It’s cake. But not. It’s custard. But not really. It’s sort of its own delightful hybrid.