These ichigo-daifuku (strawberry mochi dumpling) style Japanese sweets resemble Girls' Day dolls. Strawberries are wrapped in matcha tea-flavored an (sweet bean paste) and then dressed up in a thin, soft glutinous rice dough called gyuuhi. Try making them for a cherry blossom viewing party.
Wash the strawberries, take off the hulls and carefully pat them dry with paper towels.
Add the matcha to the shiro-an. When it's well mixed, divide into 6 portions.
Invert a strawberry and cover 2/3 with the white bean paste. If the bean paste is soft, use a paper towel as shown here.
Form the part that will face forwards into a V. They should be cone-shaped.
Spread plenty of cornstarch onto a large cutting board.
Put shiratama flour into a heatproof container, and add water little by little. Add sugar and mix well.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and microwave for 2 minutes (at 600w). Take it out and mix well.
Microwave for another minute. When it puffs up, take it out and mix again. It's done when it turns shiny as shown in the photo.
Take the dough out onto the cornstarch. If you can drop the dough on the board so that it's as flat as possible, the following steps will be easier.
Dust the top of the dough with cornstarch. Spread the dough out by pressing with your fingers and lifting it until it's about 30cm x 20cm in size. It's hot to start with, but cools down quickly.
When the dough has cooled completely, cut off the rough edges to straighten them and slice the dough into 6 pieces.
Wrap a piece of dough around each paste-covered strawberry as if you were dressing it in a kimono.
The ends stretch out a lot, so arrange them however you like.
You can wrap it round and round to make a baby princess.
I stretched out the end of the dough to the back, to look like a long train on a princess kimono. When it's shaped like this, it's easier to eat.
Story Behind this Recipe
I read Yasushi Inoue's historical novel. "The Samurai Banner of Furin Kazan", and was really drawn to the character of warlord Shingen Takeda's concubine Yuu-hime (Princess Yuu), and was inspired to make these dumplings in her image. I used canned sweet white bean paste, which I always have in stock.
If the bean paste is too soft to work with, microwave it for a few seconds to evaporate the moisture. Cool down completely before working. Work quickly when you're doing steps 9 and 10. The gyuuhi dough is soft, but it's very stretchy and easy to work with, so spread it out patiently and carefully. Even if it stretches out to a funny shape, you can adjust it when you cut off the edges in step 11. As long as you have pieces that are big enough to wrap around the strawberries, it's fine. Alternatively, you can just divide the dough into 6 portions and make round daifuku dumplings instead. You can wrap the dumplings with plastic wrap and chill them in the refrigerator before eating - they're delicious that way too.