Third Culture Bakery’s Dark Chocolate Mochi Brownie

What started as a wholesale business in Berkeley, CA has grown into Third Culture Bakery in Denver where inclusion and acceptance go hand-in-hand.

TRUE LOVE STORY: Third Culture Bakery co-founders Wenter Shyu (left) and Sam Butarbutar (right). Photo by Paul Miller

“The bakery is our love story,” says Wenter Shyu. “It wouldn’t be if we didn’t fall in love.” Shyu and Sam Butarbutar’s confectionery lovechild, Third Culture Bakery, is a union between Indonesian-Taiwanese influences and each of the baker’s third culture upbringing—an identity based in the idea that they were raised in a different culture than their parents. “It’s been great to lead with that and to have that as our backbone, because I think a lot of people resonate with it,” says Butarbutar. During the midst of their baking boom, both Shyu and Butarbutar came out to their parents—Shyu to acceptance, Butarbutar to exclusion, which marked a turning point for the couple. “The story of love and acceptance from your family is not a guaranteed thing,” says Butarbutar. “The bakery is our chosen family, and we want to extend that safe space to everyone.” The duo is also involved in numerous philanthropic efforts. “We have to advocate for people who might not have a voice, especially in the last four years. It’s so important in times of difficulty that we shine even brighter and harder and stronger for those that were affected negatively,” says Shyu. “At the heart of it, the very root of our bakery is because two men fell in love wanting to do something together and put something good in the world.”

Photo by Paul Miller

“This mochi brownie is chewy, fudgy, and chocolatey. And, it is naturally gluten free! What’s not to love?”—Sam Butarbutar, co-founder and owner

Dark Chocolate Mochi Brownie

Yield: 1 pan of brownies

1/3 c. natural cocoa powder*
11/2 c. whole milk
2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
3 whole eggs at room temperature
1/2 c. melted butter and extra for pan
2 tsp. vanilla extract
23/4 c. mochiko rice flour**
11/2 c. cane sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
dash kosher salt
*Not dutched.
**Not regular rice flour and not glutinous rice flour; can be easily found at most supermarkets and grocery stores.

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Handful of cacao nibs
Handful of flaky sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cocoa powder and milk in saucepan. Cook over medium high heat, whisking continually until smooth. Mixture must reach boil in order to cook away the “raw” taste of the cacao powder.
2. Once it boils, take off heat, and add all of the chocolate chips. Whisk until melted and smooth.
3. Add eggs, butter, and vanilla until evenly combined. In the same pan, add all the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture and stir until combined.
4. Generously grease 8×8 square baking pan with melted butter. Pour batter directly in the pan. Sprinkle with cacao nibs and flaky sea salt.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes. To check for doneness, toothpick or metal skewer into the center of the brownie. The toothpick should be moist and (mostly) clean. If it’s still loose, return to the oven for five more minutes.
6. Let it completely cool before cutting.