These mochi-filled cookies, topped with a cinnamon Hawaiian-bread crumble, are a perfect example of 17-year-old Samantha’s style of cooking: “I like to combine my Asian and American backgrounds to make desserts that both my school friends and my grandparents can enjoy,” says the New Hyde Park, NY resident and winner of our America’s Best Kid Cooks Contest. The treats aren’t always traditional, she says, “but they represent my family’s stories.”
Make the French toast topping: Toast 2 slices of bread, then cut into cubes. Add the cubes to a food processor and process until crumbs form. Mix the breadcrumbs, cinnamon, confectioners' sugar and vanilla in a bowl and set aside.
Make the mochi: Combine the glutinous rice flour, milk and maple syrup in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes, stirring halfway. Remove from the microwave, stir once more, and let cool. Divide into 16 balls, using oil so the mochi doesn’t stick to your hands. Set aside.
Make the cookie dough: Cut the bread into cubes. Add the cubes to a food processor and process until crumbs form. Combine the breadcrumbs, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix. In another bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, egg and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until a dough forms.
Assemble the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Divide the cookie dough into 16 balls. Flatten a cookie dough ball into a circle with your palm, then place a mochi ball in the middle of the dough. Pinch the edges of the dough upward around the mochi to enclose the mochi, then roll the cookie gently in your palms to smooth any lumps or cracks. Roll the cookie in the bowl of French toast topping, pressing gently so the topping sticks. Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool and enjoy.