The best lunar new year dessert? Sticky sweet butter mochi

Butter mochi is crackly on top and sticky in the center when cut fresh out of the pan.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

When I was growing up, my mom coated slabs of niangao, a dense and sugary glutinous cake, in egg and fried them French-toast style. It was a dessert you had to eat right out of the pan. I’ve found butter mochi, a classic Hawaiian cake, delivers the same tender texture at any temperature and is perfect for toting to parties. Here, I tint the buttery batter gold with turmeric and cut the cake into “gold” bars to portend a year of richness. Right after the mochi cool, they’re still quite sticky when you cut them. If you prefer more cakey mochi and clean edges on your cuts, let them cool overnight before slicing.

Golden Butter Mochi

1 ½ hours, largely unattended. Makes about 4 dozen.


  • 1 box (1 pound) sweet rice flour, such as Koda Farms’s brand Mochiko
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cans (13.5 ounces each) unsweetened full-fat coconut milk, well-shaken
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottom and sides with parchment paper and spray the parchment.
  2. Whisk the rice flour, baking powder and turmeric in a large bowl. Beat the eggs and sugar in another large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale yellow. Reduce the speed to medium and pour in the coconut milk in a steady stream, then the butter and vanilla. Scrape down the bowl. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients, beating until smooth. Alternatively, whisk the ingredients by hand, adding them in the order above. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake until golden brown and the edges are just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 1 ½ hours.
  4. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut each quarter into 1-inch-wide bars to form 48 rectangles.

Make ahead: The bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.