Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mooncakes (月饼) 101

This is a simple introduction to mooncakes, the star pastry of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.

Traditional mooncakes are baked with either lotus paste or red beans filling. They can round or square, and the crust is stamped with the manufacturer's logo, auspicious Chinese greetings or names of the ingredients. Salted egg yolk is usually included to counter the sweet taste of lotus paste or red beans, but you can choose to go without.

The traditional method is just to put in the whole salted egg yolk into the filling. It is very crumbly when you cut the mooncake, so some pieces have more egg yolk than the other. To counter this, some manufacturers now mash the egg yolk and add it as a layer, so that each cut piece of mooncake would receive the same amount of salted egg yolk, and also provides a "cleaner" look {see pic above}.

A variation of the traditional mooncakes has flakier crust, like the yam mooncake. I think walnut mooncakes {love!} fall into this category too. The skin is more crumbly and has walnut pieces. The filling is still traditional lotus paste with, or without, salted egg yolk though.

To keep up with the modern times, and to diversify to attract all kinds of tastes-buds, there's a whole plethora of mooncake flavours now. Yam, durian, chestnut, matcha etc. Most of these creative contemporary flavours are found in snow-skin mooncakes.

Snow-skin mooncakes (冰皮月饼) do not require any baking at all. It is relatively easy to make and I made it a few times with my mum before {Hello Kitty types, real cute!}. The skin is just cooked glutinous rice flour, sugar, shortening and flavouring wrapped over a filling. Again, the manufacturer's logo, Chinese greetings or name of the ingredients is stamped on the top... or, it can be molded into cute cartoon characters, flowers etc designs. Because it's not cooked, it has a shorter shelf-life than traditional mooncakes and needs to be refrigerated.

Manufacturers really like to go wild with the flavours and colours of snow-skin mooncakes! There's fruit flavours (e.g. strawberry, lychee, apple, lime), dessert flavours (e.g. chocolate, cream cheese, tiramisu, marshmallows), nutty flavours (e.g. hazelnut, pistachio), liquor flavours (e.g. rum, Singapore Sling).... you get the idea :)

There's also ice-cream mooncakes, or jelly mooncakes like the ones I made here. Nowadays, with healthy-living being the focus, you can also find low sugar or sugarless varieties.

Depending on the quality, and manufacturer, mooncakes can range from about $2.00~$15 a piece. So there's one for every budget and as mentioned above, every flavour you like! If you are in Singapore {or HK, Malaysia, China... but I'm not sure if they have the exotic flavours though heh} you must try one!

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Unknown said...

hi, happy mooncake festival to you and ur family.

Nowadays people tend to make mooncake at home. No artificial colouring n No preservation.

I also try out the ice cream mooncake from one of my blog fren's recipe. SImple and easy.


MumLee said...


Thank You for stopping by my blog.

EssentiallyJess said...

My husband would love these! Anything with egg in it and he is hooked!

Thanks for linking up!

Julie said...

I stayed in Japan for 3 months through school in 1995. I remember getting quite a shock when I ate the sweets with red-bean paste in them. I expected something quite different until I bit into them!

No one said...

I've heard the term "moon cake" before but didn't know what they were. We have "moon cakes" in Iceland but they are different (fruit mince and a proverb on baking paper in a crescent shaped pastry). I'm not a fan of whole cooked eggs, but I gather from your descriptions they can be found without this?

Daisy, Roo and Two said...

They look so yum! I am on a diet, I am on a diet I am on a diet!

Unknown said...

Stopping by from the blog hop. I had always wondered what moon cakes were since I saw them on Nickelodeon's Kai Lan. Now I know and am drooling! Thanks! If you get a chance please stop by my blog


Anonymous said...

Those look so good! Thank you for stopping by Random Deals. I'm your newest follower! Have a great day!

~ Tonya
Random Deals

Heather said...

YAY! Thank you for Sharing!
I'm was so curious about them but haven't had the chance to do a search yet. And I thought they were only sweet flavored more like a dessert but that's obviously not the case, which is really interesting!

I like that there is such a diversity in the flavors and ingredients but the idea stays the same.

Thanks again for sharing! I was looking forward to hearing your take on it! :)

Skylar Magazine said...

Interesting. Never tried these before. I've heard of them before, but never knew what they were until now. btw I'm Sarah, I am a new follower. I found you through the blog hop and would love for you to come follow back http://skylarinc.blogspot.com/. Thanks, Sarah.

astrogirl529 said...

Wow they look really tasty! I would love to try them one day!

Lady Koukou said...

Oh yum!! they look so good! I first tried these on a family trip to Japan 2 years ago but they were a sweet variety. I would love to feel confident enough to give these a try.

They look so GOOD!!!

Sharon Field / Inky A*Muse-ment said...

Yum! I remember eating these in Chinatown in San Francisco!