Butter Mochi Meets Diet Culture Resistance in a Portland Home Kitchen – Rae Robey

Daphne Kauahi’ilani Jenkins measures time in butter mochi. Each Friday in Portland, Oregon, she sells tray after tray of rotating flavors, offering slices like Passion Fruit–Dark Chocolate, Macadamia–Key Lime Pie, and Matcha-Hibiscus-Strawberry for $5 a piece. Jenkins, a holistic nutritionist and home baker, describes them as “delicious, and beautiful in a very homey way.” (I’d offer one edit, which is that her butter mochi—adorned with rose petals, mango-peach preserves, and delicate slivers of dried lemon—in fact looks incredibly professional.)

There’s nothing in the American baking lexicon that’s truly comparable to butter mochi, the classic Hawaiian tray bake. At first glance, butter mochi brings to mind an American blondie—indeed they are both square, chewy, and pale buttery-gold in color. Upon his first bite of a dense, custardy interior slice, my dad proclaimed it “chess pie, but with coconut milk,” which feels far more apt. Jenkins is more likely to compare it to another Southern favorite: “It’s this viscous, elastic, but pound-cake-esque baked good,” she said. “Because it’s so chewy, it delivers flavor over and over and over. It kind of has its way with you.”

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