Waleska Arroyo’s

Pumpkin Mochi Cake

We’re thrilled to introduce Waleska Arroyo and her Chinese Pumpkin Cake Recipe. Waleska is the heartwarming force in the kitchen at Common Ground, a unique space where a magnet high school, urban farm, and environmental education center converge in New Haven. Common Ground is a testament to learning, growth, and sustainability, deeply rooted in its mission to connect people of all ages and identities to their urban environment and to inspire them toward a just and sustainable world.

Waleska Arroyo, serving as Common Ground’s Kitchen Assistant, is a vital cog in this inspiring machine. Her role goes beyond mere food preparation; she is an integral part of a team that nourishes the bodies and the spirits of students and staff. Her work in the kitchen is a daily demonstration of Common Ground’s core values of commitment, joy, and community building. Waleska’s presence in the kitchen is a constant reminder of the importance of nurturing and caring in creating healthy and heartening food.

I love cooking. It’s therapeutic to me. I love being at Common Ground surrounded by nature. Common Ground reminds me a lot of my childhood experiences.

I had the best of both worlds growing up. I am originally from Puerto Rico, but I was raised in Connecticut. My summers and school vacations were pretty much on a farm back home.

Waleska Arroyo

In the bustling environment of Common Ground, Waleska’s contributions are multifaceted. She plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the meals prepared are nutritious and delicious and embody the spirit of Common Ground’s mission. By using produce from the urban farm, she helps bridge the gap between farm and table, making the connection between sustainable agriculture and healthy eating tangible for everyone at Common Ground.

Waleska’s approach to her work is deeply aligned with Common Ground’s belief in a diverse, connected community. In her kitchen, different cultures and tastes come together, creating a melting pot of flavors that reflect the diversity of the community. Her dedication to her craft is a beautiful example of how food can build connections, understanding, and respect among people from various backgrounds.

At Common Ground, Waleska Arroyo represents more than just a Kitchen Assistant; she is a symbol of the joy and passion that fuels the organization. Her commitment to providing nourishing meals reflects the larger goal of Common Ground – to foster learning, growth, and sustainable change. Through her work, she feeds the body and the soul, making her an indispensable part of the Common Ground family.

Pumpkin Mochi Cake Recipe


Glutinous Rice Flour
Red Bean Paste
Panko Bread Crumbs
Pumpkin Puree


  1. Mix the pumpkin puree with the glutinous rice flour to make a dough
  2. Divide the dough into small pieces and shape it into balls
  3. Shape the red bean paste into small balls for the filling
  4. To assemble, flatten the dough with your hands to form a disk
  5. Place the red bean paste filling in the center
  6. Wrap the dough around the filling to seal it
  7. Round out the filled cake then gently flatten it
  8. Dip both sides into bread crumbs


  1. Preheat the oven to 340 °F. 
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. 
  3. Place the pumpkin mochi dough on the baking sheet. 
  4. Brush vegetable oil or melted butter all over each mochi dough to prevent cracking (don’t forget the bottom side). 
  5. Bake at 340 °F for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.


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