Baking and reviewing the Trader Joe’s Hawaiian mochi cake

March 12, 2022 — by Anjali Pai
This seasonal item is a must-have for those who like light, subtle flavors and chewy textures.

As I walked through the aisles of Trader Joe’s recently, a unique item caught my eye. The box was labeled “mochi cake mix” and described as a “Hawaiian-inspired cake with a chewy mochi texture.” The picture of this golden brown cake instantly caught my attention, and I eagerly put one in my cart. When I arrived home, I got to work right away.

I have a history of throwing myself into ambitious baking projects, most of which I end up regretting. Hours into prep, I often find myself contemplating my life choices. Luckily for me, the prep for this mochi cake was simple and did not lead to an existential crisis. 

All I had to do was gather one cup of room temperature water, two large beaten eggs, four tablespoons of melted butter and an 8×8 (I only had 8×9) greased baking pan. In a mere 10 minutes, I was able to preheat my oven to 350 degrees and stir  the eggs, butter and water into the cake mix. 

The ingredients blended together quickly and easily. I didn’t encounter the typical struggles of making cake batter — like spraining my wrists while mixing the stiff batter or finding lumps of cake mix that refuse to dissolve even after 15 minutes of vigorous stirring.

While almost everything went smoothly, I did encounter one problem: I greased my pan with way too much butter. I only found out when I turned on the oven light and saw the cake overflowing with boiling hot butter. Distraught, I decided that my cake was ruined.

After waiting 45-50 minutes, I took the buttery disaster out of the oven. Because my cake was drowning in butter, I had to drain the butter into the sink. 

As I waited the recommended 15 minutes (OK fine, I only waited 5 minutes), I prayed to the baking gods that my cake would not be ruined by the excess of butter. After my desperate plea, I cut the cake and took my first bite. 

To my surprise, the grease had not made the cake soggy. Within a few minutes of cooling, the cake became crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle — the baking gods definitely blessed me that night.

The texture of the cake was unlike anything I was used to. It was very chewy and kind of dense. Usually when you think of a cake, you think of something light and crumbly. This, however, was basically a slab of rubbery mochi, rather than a fluffy cake. 

The flavor was very subtle, with accents of coconut and butter. Some boxed cakes that I have tried in the past were so sweet that I could already see the Type 3 diabetes coming for me in my near future. But with its subtly sweet flavors, this mochi cake did not lead me to this conclusion.

At first, I was not the biggest fan of this cake, but by the time I finished my first piece, I was surprised by the urge to eat more. The contrast of the crispy outer edges of the cake and the chewy interior was addictive. By the end of the night, I had eaten a whole quarter of the pan. 

Although I was initially unsure of how this cake would turn out, I found myself hooked after persevering through the challenging buttery mishap. With a little help from the baking gods above and a desire to try something new, I was able to find this hidden gem. If you like subtle flavors and unique textures, you should definitely consider buying this mochi cake during your next trip to Trader Joe’s.

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