Mooncakes are a significant part of the Mid-autumn festival, celebrated throughout China and many parts of the world, including here in Singapore. Buying mooncakes for personal consumption, as well as gifts is the norm during this season.
This celebration is also known as the mooncake festival, and apart from having a moon cake, people also celebrate by drinking tea, observing the full moon and lighting paper lanterns.
A mooncake is a Chinese pastry, made with a sweet filling. One of the most popular types of Chinese moon cakes is the baked moon cakes, made with a soft brown outer skin. Here are the most popular types for 2021:
White Lotus Paste With Salted Egg Yolk
Lotus paste is a mooncake recipe that’s a crowd favorite. The sweet lotus paste is made with lotus seeds that have been steamed and then crushed before being cooked with sugar.
Some baked mooncakes are filled with just the white lotus paste, while some have an added salted egg yolk, either one or two. The saltiness of the egg yolks actually balances out the sweet lotus paste and enhances its richness.
The savory addition of salted egg yolks is not limited to lotus paste mooncakes as other fillings also feature this ingredient. However, white lotus paste is arguably the one flavor that goes best with salted egg yolks.
You can get this lotus mooncake at Ding Bakery, where our Signature White Lotus Double Yolk mooncake comes in a Majestic designer box when you buy a package of four mooncakes. These handmade mooncakes retail for $69.90 and you can get it delivered as early as 30th August 2021.
They’re also low in sugar, so you can rest assured that you’re getting lower and healthier mooncake calories.
Source: Ding Mooncake
Red Bean Mooncakes
Red bean mooncakes is another traditional flavor that’s a local favorite. It is also known as Dou Sha or Dou Sa mooncake. The filling is made of steamed, crushed red beans that have sugar added. Red bean fillings are pretty common throughout Asia and are also found in Japanese and Korean desserts.
It’s no surprise that red bean baked skin mooncakes are well loved. This is because they bring about a lot of childhood memories.
Good red bean baked mooncakes have smooth fillings that are slightly nutty and starchy. Red bean paste actually goes best with baked skins, as the skins are pretty thin and doesn’t cause a cloying taste in your mouth.
Pandan mooncakes are a unique flavor found only in South East Asia. Pandan or screwpine leaves are often called the ‘vanilla’ of Asia. These long leaves emit a pleasant, sweet aroma that can’t be replicated.
Pandan leaves are used to flavor various local desserts, often known as kueh. The leaves are crushed or blended in a little water and strained. The resulting green liquid can be added to various other ingredients.
In the case of mooncakes, Pandan leaf extract is incorporated into mung bean fillings, resulting in a green coloured paste. This paste is really light and refreshing on the tongue. Pandan mooncakes are suitable for those who prefer a more delicate flavor that’s not heavy on the taste buds.
Source: Alpha @Flickr
Durians are fruits that are native to Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, with its origin in the island of Borneo. Needless to say, Singaporeans love their durians too and import them in large quantities.
The concept of incorporating durians into mooncakes is fairly new, and the popularity of durian mooncakes really skyrocketed in the last 5 years or so. These days, durian mooncakes are considered luxury items, especially if they’re made with premium Mao Shan Wang or Musang King durians.
If you’ve never had durian mooncakes during the moon cake festival, now is the time to try it. Have some clear Chinese tea on standby if you’re afraid that the flavors might be overpowering. That being said, most well made durian mooncakes have a pretty creamy texture and flavor that won’t cause any discomfort.
Mixed Nuts Mooncakes
Baked mooncakes are the only type of mooncake that has this mixed nut flavor. Basically, a selection of crushed nuts are held together by glutinous rice flour and this becomes the mixed nuts paste filling.
Commonly, about 5-7 nuts are used at any one time for mixed nuts mooncakes, and the recipe differs from one maker to another.
Some of the commonly used nuts include crushed peanuts, melon seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds and sesame seeds.
Often, candied and preserved fruits are also added, such as orange peel, candied citron and dried cranberries. There are even mixed nuts mooncakes that incorporate some Chinese hard cured ham. The ham gives the mooncake an added layer of savoriness, which is incredibly special.
Source: Wkimedia Commons
Bonus: Modern Fusion Baked Mooncakes
Mooncakes are increasingly becoming more and more creative in terms of their flavors. These days, many mooncake creators come up with new flavors every year that incorporate flavors from cultures that aren’t Chinese.
For example, Starbucks mooncakes come in flavors like Tiramisu, which is coffee and cheese. Other brands have green tea, peach, mango, strawberry, blueberry, chocolate and even cheese flavored mooncakes.
The limits of creativity when it comes to mooncakes is unlimited. Once you get the basics of mooncake making down, the rest of the steps involve infusing different flavors into a basic paste.
Rather than being just another Chinese cake, mooncakes actually hold a lot of celebratory significance. In the past, they were even used to carry secret messages in times of war. Therefore in terms of culture, eating and appreciating mooncakes should be something that’s done joyfully, with a hint of curiosity.
If you’re hunting for the best mooncake brands and ‘mooncakes near me’ but can’t find something you like, you can always learn how to make mooncakes yourself. All you need is some raw ingredients, a mooncake mold and lots of determination!