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This Japanese Ice Cream Is Taking Over. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Taste of Home logo Taste of Home 2017-11-22 By Rachel Seis, Senior Editor
The colorful mochi dessert ice cream on wood plate © Photo: Shutterstock / YP_photographer The colorful mochi dessert ice cream on wood plate

If you've been to a Whole Foods Market in the past few months, you may have done a double take as you passed by a long freezer bin filled with brightly coloured mystery balls. On that second look, you may have noticed the name "mochi." And maybe after you left the store, you started noticing those orbs of cuteness popping up EV.ERY.WHERE: Instagram, Facebook, your favourite magazines, and even in a few other grocery stores. Mochi ice cream has been exploding in popularity across the U.S. this year...but what in the world is it?

Where did mochi come from?

While mochi ice cream may be a new trend to us, mochi itself can be traced as far back as the year 794 A.D. Mochi is a Japanese sticky rice dough. It's eaten year-round but is extra popular around the New Year because it's a symbol of good fortune. And leave it to the Japanese to transform an ancient food into something totally trendy (and completely adorable): They pounded down that sweet mochi dough into sheets, wrapped it around balls of ice cream and turned it into one of the most Instagrammable desserts of the year.

How does it taste?

So what can you expect to eat when you inevitably cave into the mochi trend? It's a little chewy, a little squishy, cool, creamy and so addictive. The little balls come in many ice cream flavours you already love—like strawberry, chocolate and vanilla—but if you're feeling adventurous, go for green tea, black sesame, passion fruit or mango. Whole Foods offers all these flavors in their self-serve mochi bars (you can scoop them up individually or by the dozen), but if you just want a grab-and-go box, hit up Trader Joe's, which offers packaged versions of the eye-catching sweet treats you can load up in your freezer (their coffee flavor is incredible).

Where can I get some?

If you don't live near a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, fear not: Mochi ice cream is creeping into freezer sections everywhere. You can stock up on 18-packs at Costco (just one of the many secret perks it offers members), and soon enough it may show up in the freezer aisle at your local grocer. Just keep an eye out for their distinctive shape and fun colors—but get ready: Take one bite and you'll never look at ice cream the same way.

Are you an ice cream purist? Find out our favorite brand of chocolate ice cream. Or try our favourite-ever ice cream recipes you can make at home. And if you're into the fun-coloured hand-held ice cream thing, these Candy-Craze Ice Cream Sandwiches might help you ease into the mochi trend (just don't share them with your dog).

Related Gallery: 12 Easy Ways to Upgrade a Pint of Vanilla Ice Cream Bananas Foster Sundaes: I have wonderful memories of eating Bananas Foster in New Orleans, and as a dietitian, wanted to find a healthier version. I combined the best of two recipes and added my own tweaks to create this Southern treat. —Lisa Varner, Charleston, South Carolina Get Recipe 12 Easy Ways to Upgrade a Pint of Vanilla Ice Cream


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