These are Filipino-style mochi donuts. Crispy, sweet, and crunchy on the outside, dense and chewy on the inside. This is an eggless, gluten-free, and, dairy-free donut made of pure glutinous rice flour and coconut.
Filipino Coconut Mochi Donuts
This is the donut I grew up eating in the Philippines. It is a popular street food sold in skewers known by many different names. In the Ilocos region, it is called "cascaron", while in the Tagalog region, it is called "carioca or karioka". In our hometown, we call it "bitsu-bitsu".
In other parts of the world, it is known as mochi donuts simply because it is primarily made of glutinous rice flour or mochiko sweet rice flour.
Carioca vs. Japanese Mochi donuts vs. Chinese Sesame Balls
Carioca is only made of pure glutinous flour. Compared to Japanese donuts or the popular Pon de Ring Donuts, it has no egg, no tapioca starch, no butter, or baking powder. It also doesn't contain milk or wheat flour (all-purpose flour). Yes, it's a gluten-free and dairy-free donut (hurray!).
The process of making this Filipino mochi donut is also simpler and easier compared to the process of making the Chinese dessert called 'sesame seed balls'. It has no filling and no complicated cooking process.
You only need five ingredients to make this mochi doughnut:
- Glutinous rice flour - Also known as sweet sticky rice flour or mochiko flour. This is the main ingredient of mochi donuts. You can buy this online or in most Asian grocery stores and supermarkets.
- Coconut Milk - Use pure coconut milk. It should, at the minimum, only have coconut milk and water.
- Sweetened Coconut Flakes - Adds a hint of sweetness and crunchy texture to the dough balls.
- Salt - enhances the flavor of the donut.
- White sugar and water - to make the sugar crust to be glazed around the mochi donut.
How to Make Coconut Mochi Donuts
Here's how to make coconut mochi donuts in 5 easy steps:
- Make the mochi dough.
- Shape into balls and poke a small hole in each piece.
- Fry in hot oil.
- Make the crystallized sugar glaze.
- Coat the mochi donuts in the sugar.
Make the Dough
First, we start by making the dough. Here's how I do it:
- Combine all the dry ingredients to distribute the sweet coconut flakes evenly.
- Pour coconut milk and slowly mix until a smooth ball is formed. I usually use my hands to mix so I can feel the consistency.
- If the mochi dough is still sticky, add more glutinous rice flour. Do this in small increments, around 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep on kneading until it's soft and smooth. Don't add too much rice flour, or you'll end up with a dry and tough mochiko donut.
- If the dough is dry and hard to form into a ball, then add more coconut milk or water. Do this in increments as well, around 1 to 2 tablespoons.
Shape into Balls
- Dust a tray or a large plate with glutinous rice flour to prevent the dough from sticking.
- Scoop one heaping tablespoon of the mixture to make medium size donut hole. Roll in between the palm hands to form a smooth ball.
- To prevent the mochi dough from bursting during frying, poke a small hole on one side. Use a small wooden skewer or a similar size stick.
- Cover with a damp cloth or plastic food wrap to prevent drying.
Fry the Mochi Donuts
Just like regular donuts, mochi donuts have the best flavor if fried in oil. There's just something unique about its taste that you can't replicate in baking.
Tips for frying mochi donut
- To prevent mochi donuts from tasting greasy, ensure the vegetable oil is hot enough before frying.
- The easiest way to check the oil temperature is to stick a wooden chopstick or the end of a wooden spoon into the oil. If it's bubbling then it's ready. If it's bubbly too rapidly then it's too hot and will burn the donut. Let it cool a bit then test it again
- Add the rice balls one at a time, putting a small space in between to prevent them from sticking to each other. Do not overcrowd the pan, fry in batches if needed.
- Cook until all sides are lightly brown. Here, I opted to shallow fry the mochi donuts and used less oil. It works just as well as deep frying.
- Transfer the fried mochi donut balls to a cooling rack using tongs. Set aside and prepare the glaze.
Coat in Sugar Crystals
What makes this donut unique from all other types of mochi donuts is its glaze. Instead of coating it in melted powdered sugar or chocolate, it is tossed in a sugar and water solution that have been heated until almost crystallized. The result? Crispy, crunchy donuts! So good!
Here's how to do it:
- Combine sugar and water in a wide pan enough to fit the donut balls. Bring to a simmer then lower the heat to medium heat. Stir frequently until it becomes thick like syrup and bubbles form (see step 4 above).
- Set the heat to low to prevent caramelization.
- Add the mochi donuts, and toss using two wooden spoons until each piece is coated.
These mochi donuts (carioca) are usually served as mid-morning and afternoon snacks. It's so good with coffee, tea, and or hot chocolate.
If you're serving this for a potluck party or on a special occasion like Christmas and New Year, put them into small wooden skewers. It will look so much fun and interesting 🙂
You can also just serve them on small plates and serve them straight away as finger food.
These mochi donuts are best eaten on the day it's cooked and made. It doesn't store well as its texture can become quite dense and hard the longer it sits on your kitchen counter. Hence, make just enough amount for your friends and family to enjoy on the same day.
Bonus Tip: How to Make a Big Batch
This recipe is easier to make in small batches. If serving for a large party, I recommend making two separate batches rather than one large batch. It's easier to manage and you want to have to find a large pan to fit all the mochi balls.
Watch the Recipe Video
More Filipino recipes you might like
- Oven Baked Bibingka Malagkit
- Easy Cassava Cake (stays soft!)
- Easy Bibingka Recipe (Filipino Coconut Rice Cake)
- 18 EASY Filipino Desserts Recipes You Need to Try
Coconut Mochi Donut Balls (Carioca/ Cascaron)
- ½ cup white sugar (granulated or fine)
- ½ cup water
- Dust a plate or tray with 1 to 2 tablespoons of glutinous rice. Set aside.
- Make the dough: In a large bowl, stir together the glutinous rice flour, coconut flakes, and salt. Pour coconut milk. Mix with your clean hands until a smooth dough is formed.
- Dough consistency (note 2): If the dough is still sticky, add more glutinous rice flour. Do this in small increments, around 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep on kneading until it's soft and smooth. Don't add too much rice flour, or you'll end up with a dry and tough mochiko donut. If the dough is dry and hard to form into a ball, then add more coconut milk or water. Do this in increments as well, around 1 to 2 tablespoons.
- Form into balls: Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the dough. Roll between your hands to form a smooth ball. Poke the center with a skewer stick to make a small hole (not all the way through). Repeat with the remaining dough. Place in the dusted tray and cover it with a clean cloth to prevent it from drying.
- Heat oil in a frying pan. Test the oil with the stick end of a wooden spoon or a wooden chopstick. The oil is ready when bubbles form around.
- Fry the dough in batches until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack or plate. Don't use paper towels at may stick.
- Place sugar and water in a large pan. Bring to a simmer then lower the heat to medium. Stir vigorously until the liquid becomes thick and bubbly like syrup.
- Lower the heat. Add the rice balls and toss until evenly coated and the sugar forms a thin glaze, almost a crust. The sugar will start to harden as it cools and that's normal.
- Transfer to a wire rack or plate. Put into small wooden skewers around 3 to 4 pieces each stick. You can also serve as is or serve as is on a plate.
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Glutinous rice flour - Also known as sweet sticky rice flour or mochiko flour. You can buy this online or in most Asian grocery stores and supermarkets.
- Coconut Milk - different kinds/brands of coconut milk have a different consistency. Thin coconut milk may produce a wet dough and thick coconut milk may produce a dry dough.
- Shelf-life - These mochi donuts are best eaten on the day it's cooked and made. It doesn't store well as its texture can become quite dense and hard the longer it sits on your kitchen counter.
- Nutrition: Per piece of mochi donut assuming it absorbs ½ teaspoon of oil. It is impossible for me to determine exactly how much oil is absorbed during frying.