A couple of weeks ago it was Mid-Autumn Festival, and traditionally in Taiwan we would do barbecue and have some delicious mooncakes. Although I can find them here, I thought it would be fun to make my own. There are two types: I grew up with the Taiwanese kind, which are made of puff pastry and loose, soft filling (usually mung bean). The Cantonese kind is thick and dense with filling, usually lotus seed, mung bean, or red bean. Also, a salted egg yolk may also be present, but I decided it was too much of a hassle so we didn’t use them.
So typically Cantonese mooncakes have designs on top. Traditionally the molds are large wooden blocks, and the design can be anything from flowers to words to patterns like this one. Mooncakes can either be square or round, but I liked round one betters so I got round mooncake molds
I got these from ebay. They’re easy to use and sort-of easy to clean (use a toothpick for the fine pattern). Its best if you flour the mold before pressing it on your mooncake.
So we made 2 types of mooncakes – green tea snow skin mooncakes with red bean filling, and regular skin mooncakes with lotus seed filling. These were the snow skin ones and they are really easy. The recipe is just glutinous rice flour, sugar, water, and green tea powder. We used canned anko for red bean filling because we happened to have it on hand. I have never had a store-bought snow skin mooncake so I’m not sure if what we made was correct, but my friend commented that they should be chewier. Considering that the wrapper isn’t cooked/steamed, I’m not sure how anyone can make it more chewy. I did see a recipe that called for making the wrapper into mochi before wrapping it around the filling, but then how do you get the design on it?? I’m very confused.. but our mooncakes turned out to be pretty good.
For the lotus seed paste, we actually made it from scratch. We boiled the lotus seeds in water for an hour, and then mashed it up with a fork. We added sugar, butter, and very thick oolong tea in it to make oolong tea lotus seed paste, and then sauteing it on a pan to evaporate the extra water. This stuff is DELICIOUS. I could just eat it by the spoonful, and I couldn’t stop myself from tasting it while I was mashing it/making moon cakes.
So our recipe called for using caramel in the wrappers, which, other than the egg wash, was what gives it its nice brown color. However, I think the recipe may have called for a little too much baking powder/soda which caused puffy mooncakes.
Anyway, I just wanted to blog about this experience. We, by no means, was successful. The mooncakes are NOTHING like the ones we could buy, and I blame it on not carefully choosing the recipe. The ratio/proportions were also super off, which is why I’m not posting those recipes. I really have to be careful in choosing recipes. I forget that I used to spend hours sifting through webpages and blogs for a reliable recipe from a reliable source during summer, but this time I just used the first one I saw. Horrible idea. However, it was a fun experience, and I would love to do it again (with a better recipe).