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Cinnamon Toast Crunch Butter Mochi

Franklin Gaw
Yields:
16 squares
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Chef notes

I love how the tradition of mochi spans memories and cultures, from Filipino bibingka and Chinese nian gao to Japanese mochi and Hawaiian butter mochi. Mochi’s presence in my daily life was fleeting. It was a beloved sweet seen only in the confines of the Asian community my parents were a part of: in a Tupperware from another Chinese mother, an unassuming Styrofoam container by the register of a small Asian grocery store, a Pyrex pan next to bags of Doritos and Lay’s on a plastic table at Chinese school. Months could pass before I ate mochi again, but every new taste was a surprise, its many variations — from steamed brown sugar nian gao to orange disks of sweet potato butter mochi — making every bite different from the last.

This recipe combines my memories of mochi with my cravings for my favorite breakfast cereal, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The batter is made by combining glutinous rice flour with milk soaked in Cinnamon Toast Crunch. (The soaking is a genius method by chef Christina Tosi, while the batter is inspired by Alana Kysar’s wonderful butter mochi recipe in Aloha Kitchen.) The cinnamon-sugar and cereal-milk batter is then topped with more crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch and baked into a crisp and chewy nostalgic treat.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk or nondairy milk
  • 5 cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cups Mochiko sweet rice flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • powdered sugar, for topping
  • ground cinnamon, for topping
  • flaky salt, for topping

Preparation

Soak the cereal:

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the 2 cups milk or nondairy milk with 2 cups of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Let soak for at least 1 hour or up to overnight, covered in the fridge. Strain the milk through a fine-mesh metal sieve; you should get about 1 cup of cereal milk.

Make the brown butter:

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter and stir frequently as it starts to melt and bubble. Look for little brown specks to start to appear and the color to change from yellow to a light amber, 3 to 5 minutes. Once it’s lightly browned, remove from the heat and transfer to a heatproof container to cool.

Mix the batter:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan or cake pan. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1 cup cereal milk, the coconut milk, maple syrup and vanilla until smooth. Add in the Mochiko rice flour, 1 cup of the brown sugar, baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and whisk until it becomes a smooth batter. Pour in the browned butter and continue to mix until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Crumble, bake and serve:

Crush the remaining 3 cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch with your hands until it’s a quarter of its original size. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, then pour it onto the crushed cereal. Mix in the remaining 2 teaspoons brown and sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Top the batter evenly with the crushed cereal mixture.

Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown. You’ll know when it’s done if you stick a chopstick in it and it comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack, then cut into squares, sprinkle with some powdered sugar, cinnamon and flaky salt, and serve. Store covered and enjoy within 3 days.

Reprinted with permission from "First Generation: Recipes from My Taiwanese-American Home" by Frankie Gaw. Text and photography by Franklin Gaw copyright © 2022. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.