What is Mooncake?
A delicacy that comes under the dessert’s category, Mooncakes are very famous and are have been a major part of the Moon Festival or the Mid-Autumn festival. It is gifted and shared between friends and family. Throughout thousands of years ever since the mooncakes have been in existence, they are offered to the Moon Goddess Chang’e.
Mooncakes are the combination of a sweet pastry on the outside and a dense filling of red bean paste or lotus seed paste on the inside. The lotus seed paste is very expensive so people sometimes use white kidney bean paste as a substitution. Red bean paste is often confused with jujube paste which is also used as a filling in the cakes. While red bean paste is sweet, the jujube paste is a little sour to taste.
The outer pastry can be dense. Flaky or chewy. The chewy crust is the most common and has a shiny glaze to it. To symbolize the full moon salty duck eggs are also used in them so when you cut into the mooncake, you can see the moon shape.
We can see that there are designs on top of the mooncakes, these designs are usually symbols of harmony and longevity. These symbols can be any character from the legend of the festival, right from the Moon Goddess to the Jade Rabbit.
What Does The Mooncake Symbolize?
Mooncakes are made round in shape; their shape symbolizes completeness and togetherness of the family. The full moon on the day of the festival is an indication of family reunion and wealth. In today’s time, Chinese families exchange mooncakes to respect the bond they share and let it be the same for years to come.
What Is Written On Mooncakes?
If the mooncakes are bought from a bakery, then the logo of the bakery or the name of the bakery can be found on top of them. But if they’re being made at home then there are stamps available to imprint designs on top of the mooncakes. Mostly the imprints on her are Chinese characters that represent harmony and fortune to those who eat them. Other than these characters there can also be designs of the Moon Goddess, the Jade Rabbit, flowers and vines.
How Long Do Mooncakes Last?
Mooncakes can last for different periods. It all depends on the making process and the ingredients used because they affect the lasting time of the mooncake. They can last for 10 days, 30 days or a maximum of 60 days based on the mentioned factors. Baked mooncake that is store-bought can be stored for months if they’re kept in a cool place, away from any exposure of sunlight. On the other hand, handmade mooncakes can be stored for only 7-10 days at the right temperature. The scenario is completely different for snow skin mooncakes. They need to be stored in the fried where they can last for a few weeks at the most but can be spoiled within hours at room temperature.
Varieties of Mooncakes
Traditional Mooncakes are made to appreciate and worship the Moon on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunisolar calendar. They’re offered to the Moon Goddess Chang’e along with hopes for prosperity and good luck.
Beijing style Mooncakes
Beijing style mooncakes have 2 kinds, di Qiang and fan mao. They both differ due to their crusts, di Qiang had a foamy and light crust while fan mao has a thin and flaky crust. The most famous filling flavours are rock sugar, sweet Osmanthus, nuts, hawthorn and wisteria.
Cantonese style Mooncakes
Having many variations of fillings the Cantonese style mooncakes first originated in Guandong and Guanxi province of China. The fillings have ornate 4 duck eggs which represent the phases of the moon. Other ingredients include nuts, chicken, ham, roasted duck, mushrooms, melon seed paste, lotus seed paste etc. these style of mooncakes with their non-traditional fillings are now very famous in Hong Kong where they are sold with chocolate fillings too.
Yunnan style Mooncakes
These are also called ham mooncakes as they have the Yunnan special ham along with lard, honey and white sugar. The crust is hard and when cooked is golden yellow or brownish-red. The crust uses various kinds of flours like wheat flour, rice flour and buckwheat flour.
Suzhou style Mooncakes
Suzhou style mooncakes have more than a dozen variations including both sweet and savoury. They’re known for their flaky crust and a generous portion of lard and sugar. The sweet ones generally contain rose petals, nuts and bean paste while the savoury ones have pork mince, ham, shallots and shrimp.
New Style Mooncakes
As its name suggests, the snow-skin mooncakes have a white outer covering. White is a colour worn to funerals but white coloured mooncakes are now very popular among teenagers. They are not baked and need to store in the refrigerator. Their filling includes mango pomelo sago, purple yam, mung bean paste, jam etc. Due to their crusts, they are also called similar to mochi.
Ice cream Mooncakes
Just like the other types of mooncakes, ice cream mooncakes look like the others. Their outer covering is not made from flour but white and dark chocolate. Their filling can be any flavour ice cream of your choice. Some of them also have a whole egg yolk at their centre like the traditional mooncakes. They need to be refrigerated to be kept from getting spoilt just like snow-ski mooncakes.
Unusual Flavour Mooncakes
These types of mooncakes have a 50-50 liking among the locals. Many enjoy having crayfish filled mooncakes but many happen to dislike them as they find it too fishy. The making of crayfish mooncakes needs a lot of attention as seafood can go bad very easily.
Oreo mooncakes appear like huge chunky oreo cookies and are very sweet to taste. They have been in existence for a few years and are being enjoyed by Asians during the Mid-Autumn festival. They are sold in retail stores where you can find 2 cakes in one pack. They have a different filling like brownie chocolate, custard, strawberry jam, double chocolate with milk, etc.
Lemon Cheese Mooncakes
The lemon cheese mooncakes were first made so that everyone can enjoy them being at home. They are very easy to make in a pie maker using a filling of lemon zest and cream cheese. To add a little liveliness to them, a little amount of jam is added to the center of these mooncakes.
Bamboo Charcoal Mooncakes
These mooncakes are made without any preservative as people are often worried about consuming any unwanted ingredients. They are made using green tea, lotus seeds, beans and Takesumi (bamboo charcoal). Bamboo charcoal provides a sweet taste along with keeping the tradition of mooncakes alive.
The Most Popular Mooncake Brand In China And How Much Does It Cost?
Daoxiangcun is the most popular mooncake brand in China. It was established in 1773 and is at the top of its category. It serves its purpose of making the best pastries flawlessly and is also known as the ‘Pastry Maker’. This brand originated in Suzhou and Beijing and has expanded its merchandise ever since. Just as they promise, their products are of the best quality and quantity. The most popular mooncake of this brand is the five nuts mooncakes along with zilaihong mooncakes, jujube paste mooncakes and rose mooncakes.
RMB stands for Ren Min Bi and is the official currency of China. Daixiangcun pastries range from RMB 15-33 per 500 g. On average, a small box contains 12-13 pastries of your choice costing up to RMB 130-140. The bigger box on the other hand can fit 20 types of pastries and costs up to RMB 170. If these prices seem a lot, then you can always go ahead and buy 1 pastry for RMB 3.