sakura-mochi. But as I avoid pretty much everything with anko (sweet adzuki bean paste), those anko-filled sakura mochi has never appealed to me.
That said, I don't mind ichigo daifuku, or daifuku mochi filled with a strawberry and anko. Perhaps that's because the use of a strawberry as the filling results in lesser amount of anko involved, making it easier for me to handle. Fresh, slightly tart berries also cut back the otherwise clogging sweetness of anko. And as I found out that I prefer sakura-an (sweet white bean curd flavored with cherry leaves and colored in pink) to regular adzuki-based anko, I thought I'd try and make ichigo-daifuku using sakura-an, thus sakura ichigo daifuku. Simple enough, right?
Well, things started getting complicated when I suddenly remembered that I rather enjoy cream-filled daifuku and mochi ice cream (ever tried yukimi-daifuku? or mochi cream?) - and thought I'd try and make ichigo daifuku using sakura-an AND whipped cream.
I searched for recipes on the Internet, and found a few without trouble; I decided on this recipe (in Japanese), as the process looked fairly manageable, using microwave to make the mochi dough and all. Or so it seemed, perhaps very misleadingly to me at least.
As far as ichigo daifuku is concerned, there is no shortage of recipes in English on the Internet. And many are similar in that you first wrap hulled whole strawberries around with anko and shape them into balls; mix shiratama-ko (a type of glutenous rice flour), sugar and water to make the dough, heat in the microwave until cooked; roll the dough out into several thin pieces (this process involves a lot of potato starch to prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers and everything in the vicinity); wrap a strawberry-anko filling with a piece of mochi shell, and repeat with the rest of the filling and shells.
And so I tried valiantly, and failed spectacularly; they were all either shapeless, shell torn, or seam unclosed - or all of the above. For my meager honor's sake, the mochi dough was fine and things went well at least until the final wrapping part, which ruined everything. And despite their sad appearance, the resulting mess that was meant to be ichigo daifuku was downright delicious. That was probably why I decided to give it another shot immediately - if they hadn't tasted so good, I don't think I would have bothered to try it again.
Over the period of a month, I tried them four or five times, with no visible improvement whatsoever in my mochi-wrapping skills. There were always a few that didn't come to shape a form at all, and the rest of them would look resolutely ugly. My sister, who happens to be extremely neat-handed, declared them to look like Oba-Q. Well, I couldn't agree more...
To make cream ichigo daifuku, prepare the mochi shells and strawberry-anko filling following an ichigo-daifuku recipe of your choice, then whip some heavy cream (1-2 tsp for each mochi cake) until stiff while the mochi shells cool. Place a heaping teaspoonful or so of whipped cream in the middle of a mochi shell, place the strawberry-anko filling (tip side down) gently on top, and wrap the filling carefully around with the shell taking care not to break the mochi or let the cream escape from the shell. Place the finished daifuku seam-side down and repeat with the rest.
To make them sakura-cream ichigo daifuku, swap sakura-an for the regular adzuki-an and add a bit of cherry blossom flakes as soon as the mochi dough is cooked; you can wrap the finished mochi with a salt-cured cherry leaf, if you prefer.
* This was intended to be a part of sakura sweets post I am putting together, but since this got quite long as it is, I've decided to do a separate entry. I'll do the full sakura post tomorrow. See you around! cx