Vegan mooncakes (6 ways!) 純素月餅

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A guide to lớn making Cantonese-style mooncakes with 6 different flavors. All vegan and made from scratch!

Happy start of the Mid-Autumn Festival weekend!

I've been making snowskin mooncakes (a variation with an easier mochi skin) khổng lồ gift friends and family for a few years now, but this year I wanted lớn try my hand at traditional baked mooncakes. There's just something about the glamorous, embossed pastry and the richness of the sweet và savory fillings that's both appealing and intimidating, especially for someone who's never made them before. Mooncakes really aren't something people traditionally make at home— most of the Chinese folks I know buy mooncakes, including my parents. They're pretty expensive, often over thirty dollars for a small box of four or six.

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But making mooncakes is actually quite simple, và you can use the highest unique ingredients. (I splurged on all organic nuts & seeds for these fillings). The dough for the pastry is easy khổng lồ put together & pretty forgiving khổng lồ work with, và the mooncake mold does most of the work in making the finished product look nice. You only need to lớn get two specialty ingredients (golden syrup and lye water, but we'll get into that shortly).

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Filling-wise, I've noticed that mooncakes in trung quốc and in Taiwan these days tend to lớn be more inventive than traditional, toying with wild, unexpected combinations— salty-savory, spiced và numbing, milky và cheesy, or some crazy molten center. I had fun playing around with a few ideas and ultimately decided on six different mooncakes— one fruity, two nuttier & salty-sweet, two traditional bean/seed paste fillings, và one chocolatey surprise. I love variety, especially for gifts.

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Read on for the full recipe & guide. I'll be ranking these too, so scroll khổng lồ the kết thúc to see which one was my favorite.

How to Make Vegan Mooncakes

STEP 1: Prepare the filling(s) of choice in advance.

The most time-consuming part of making mooncakes is the filling, because unless you buy ready-made sweetened bean pastes (which you certainly can), making these from scratch will involve some combination of soaking & cooking or toasting, and the most important step, chilling overnight.

Each of these filling recipes will make 9 30g filling balls, for 9 50g-sized mooncakes.

Option 1: Red Bean Paste & Vegan Salted Egg Yolk

For the red bean paste:1 cup (200 grams) dried adzuki beans, soaked overnight or at least 4 hours½ cup (100 grams) sugar¼ teaspoon salt2 tablespoons (28 grams) refined coconut oil9 (10 grams each) vegan salted 'egg yolks', prepared & chilled in advance

Make the red bean paste: Drain the soaked beans & place them in a small pot or Instant Pot pressure cooker. địa chỉ enough water lớn cover the đứng đầu by 2 inches, then seal & cook on high pressure for 25 minutes, then let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. OR, bring to a boil on the stovetop & simmer for 60-90 minutes until they are soft & easily crushable between your fingers. Transfer the cooked beans khổng lồ a food processor, with just enough liquid lớn puree.

In a thick-bottomed pan or nonstick pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. địa chỉ cửa hàng the bean puree and the sugar, & cook down, stirring every couple of minutes, until the puree has thickened and pulls away from the pan, holding its shape (a rubber spatula should come out clean). This will take about 8-10 minutes. Taste and adjust sugar as desired. Transfer lớn a heat-proof container và cool completely in the refrigerator.

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Take one 20g portion of chilled red bean paste, flatten into a disc, place one 10g vegan egg yolk in the center, & tuck & wrap the red bean paste around to lớn enclose, for 30g balls. Chill in the fridge until ready to lớn use.

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Option 2: Matcha Lotus Seed Paste with đen Sesame Filling

For the lotus seed paste:100 grams (1 cup) dried lotus seeds, soaked for 3 hours or overnight, green shoots inside removed45 grams (¼ cup) refined coconut oil50 grams (¼ cup) sugar2 teaspoons matcha powder, optionalFor the black sesame filling:70 grams (½ cup) đen sesame seeds, toasted50 grams (¼ cup) sugar1/2 teaspoon salt

28 grams (2 tbsp) refined coconut oil

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Make the lotus seed paste: Follow the same instructions for the red bean paste. The only difference is that the cooking time is shorter, 15 minutes for Instant Pot or 1 hour for stovetop. After removing from heat, stir in the matcha powder until smooth. Transfer to lớn a heat-proof container & cool completely in the refrigerator.

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Matcha powder

Make the đen sesame filling: toast the black sesame seeds until they pop in the pan, then transfer immediately khổng lồ a plate & cool slightly. địa chỉ cửa hàng to a food processor or blender with the sugar and salt & pulse into a fine meal. Stir in the coconut oil and chill in the refrigerator lớn harden.

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Divide the đen sesame filling into 10g portions (you will have extra; save the rest for another use). Take a 20g portion of the prepared lotus seed paste, flatten into a disc, place the ball of black sesame filling in the center, and tuck và wrap the lotus seed paste around to lớn enclose. The filling balls should be 30g each. Chill in the fridge until ready khổng lồ use.

Option 3: Caramelized Pineapple Jam Filling

1 (14-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained OR 1 medium pineapple, trimmed, flesh and core cut into 1-inch chunks2 tablespoons (28 grams) vegan butter or refined coconut oil

½ cup (100 grams) brown or granulated sugar½ teaspoon salt1 tablespoon (8 grams) cornstarch, more if needed

If using fresh pineapple, pulse the chopped pineapple flesh in a food processor until it resembles crushed pineapple. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the vegan butter over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until it foams & then forms light brown specks at the bottom và smells fragrant, about 5 minutes. địa chỉ the brown sugar, crushed pineapple & salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated và the pineapple is thick & caramelized, about 20-30 minutes. Transfer to a heat-proof container và let cool.

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When cool enough khổng lồ handle, portion into nine 30g balls (you will have lots of extra pineapple, reserve for another use). If the filling is too sticky to work with, showroom 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Chill the balls in the refrigerator until ready to lớn use.

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Option 4: Chinese Red Date Walnut and Chocolate Truffle Filling

For the jujube paste:

3.5 ounces (100 grams) dried jujube/red dates¼ cup (25 grams) shelled and halved walnuts, toasted1 tbsp (8 grams) cornstarch or glutinous rice flour1 tbsp (14 grams) refined coconut oil

For the dark chocolate truffle centers:1-3.5 ounce bar (100 grams) dairy-free dark or semi-sweet chocolate (I used 75%), very finely chopped2 tbsp (30 grams) full-fat coconut milk OR 2 tbsp peanut butter

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Make the red date walnut paste: Pit the dates. Place in a steamer và steam over boiling water on high heat until they’re softened and wrinkly, about 8-10 minutes. địa chỉ the dates to lớn a food processor with the roasted walnuts and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to lớn a bowl & stir in the cornstarch and coconut oil, then form into nine 20g balls. You will have date paste leftover; reserve for another use. Transfer to a heat-proof container & cool completely in the refrigerator.

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Make the chocolate truffles: Melt the chocolate either in the microwave in 30-second intervals or in a double boiler (place a saucepan on the stovetop with 1-inch of water, simmering, and a glass or metal bowl over vị trí cao nhất that rests high enough to not cảm ứng the water). When the chocolate is melted, remove from heat & stir in the coconut milk or the nut butter until the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a heat-proof container and cool completely in the refrigerator, then divide into 10g portions and shape into round ‘truffles’.

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Take a 20g portion of date walnut paste, flatten into a disc, place the chocolate truffle in the center, và tuck and wrap the date paste around to lớn enclose. The filling balls should be 30g each. Chill in the fridge until ready khổng lồ use.

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Option 5: Sichuan Peppercorn Peanut Sesame Filling

1 cup (140 grams) unsalted roasted peanuts¼ cup (35 grams) white sesame seeds, toasted2 tablespoons (18 grams) đen sesame seeds, toasted¼ cup (85 grams) honey, or ¼ cup agave nectar or maple syrup + 1 tablespoon sugar½ teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorn (toast và grind whole peppercorns for the best flavor) and ½ teaspoon black pepper2 tbsp (15 grams) cornstarch¾ teaspoon salt

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In a food processor, showroom the roasted peanuts & process until coarsely ground. Showroom the toasted sesame seeds, honey, ground Sichuan peppercorn, cornstarch và salt & pulse a few more times until the filling is still coarse but sticks together when pressed. Divide into nine 30g portions and shape into balls.

Option 6: Salty Seaweed Pistachio và Nut Filling (makes enough for 9 mooncakes)

1 cup (120 grams) shelled unsalted pistachios, toasted¼ cup (35 grams) unsalted peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, or roasted sunflower seeds¼ cup (18 grams) store-bought furikake seasoning OR 4 roasted nori sheets, torn into small pieces¼ cup (85 grams) honey OR ¼ cup agave nectar/maple syrup + 1 tablespoon sugar1 tbsp (8 grams) cornstarch½ teaspoon salt (omit if using furikake seasoning)

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In a food processor, combine the pistachios, pumpkin/sunflower seeds/peanut, and process until coarsely ground. địa chỉ the roasted torn nori sheets or furikake, honey, cornstarch & salt & pulse a few more times until the filling is still coarse but sticks together when pressed. Divide into nine 30g portions and shape into balls.

Make the dough

Combine the flour, oil, golden syrup, and lye or alkaline water in a large mixing bowl. I made my own golden syrup since I couldn't find it in a store nearby (see Notes below).

You can also make your own alkaline water using baked baking soda, which I've done before to make pretzels. It's very simple, although you have to lớn make it in advance.

Stir to form a dough, then knead with your hands until smooth & glossy, about 5 minutes. Khung into a disc & rest in a covered bowl at room temperature for an hour.

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Divide the dough into 20g portions and roll into balls. Take one ball và place it in your palm, & use the heel of your other palm lớn flatten it into a 3 ½-inch round. Place the 30g filling in the center and wrap the edges of the dough up around the filling. Continue to pinch the dough khổng lồ completely enclose the filling. It might take some squeezing and smoothing and maneuvering to completely wrap the filling in. It’s okay if some cracks form, just pinch them together. Roll between your palms into a smooth ball, then roll it gently into an oblong shape.

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Press/shape the mooncakes:

Prepare a 50g mooncake mold of choice— I used this set that I bought online. It came with three square designs và three round designs, which was perfect for 6 kinds of mooncakes.

Tuck the oblong ball (see photo below) into the mold, invert it, & press down firmly but gently lớn imprint the design. You may need to lớn dust the inside of the mold with flour but I didn't find it necessary, as the dough has quite a bit of oil.

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Release the mooncake from the mold và arrange it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat for all mooncakes, placing them at least 2 inches apart.

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Bake the mooncakes:

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350°C/177°F. Bake the mooncakes for 9-10 minutes until the edges are lightly golden. Remove the mooncakes from the oven và allow lớn cool on the sheet for 10 minutes.

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Allow lớn cool for 10 minutes.

Then, brush on the egg wash (I used a mixture of Just Egg and water) with a pastry brush (or a rolled up paper towel), on both the top & sides. Be careful not to add too much egg wash, as the pattern on top won't be as distinct after baking.

Bake a second time:

Return the sheet lớn the oven & bake until the mooncakes are a deep, caramel brown color, about 8-10 more minutes.

Cool and Store the Mooncakes

Place the baking sheet lớn cool on a wire rack, then carefully transfer the mooncakes khổng lồ an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to lớn a week. The dough will soften over time & fully absorb the oil, achieving a beautiful glossy shine và a softer exterior after 1-2 days.

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The mooncake brushed with the 'egg' wash (bottom), compared to lớn the one without it (top). Notice the difference in the shine and gleam.

Tips for Making Mooncakes

I recommend using a digital kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients. It's so much easier to add everything khổng lồ one bowl (tared lớn zero each time) than it is to lớn scoop và measure everything by volume, & the dough will turn out a lot better because of the precise ratios.The filling should be pretty solid— if the filling is too soft, or if there's too little of it in the pastry, the center will drop as it bakes and your mooncake will sag. I lượt thích a ratio of 20 grams dough to lớn 30 grams filling for a 50g mooncake— you get a thin pastry skin (a sign of a good mooncake) và a nice, substantial filling. Don't omit the 'egg' wash (see photo above). But don't brush on too much of it either— you don't want the egg lớn bake over the grooves and conceal the intricate, beautiful design.On the second round of baking, make sure the mooncake is nice và deep in color. I pulled one batch of mooncakes out too early, when they were still on the lighter golden-brown side, and after cooling overnight I realized they were too soft. I had lớn bake them again the next day for a sturdier crust. This is especially important if you're planning khổng lồ box or ship the mooncakes.

Results

Here's the breakdown of the six flavors with my personal rankings!

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Option 1: Smooth & sweet red bean paste with a salty & rich center. The macadamia nuts, mung beans, và coconut oil provided the right proportion of fat and protein, & I was pleasantly surprised how closely the tangy, miso-infused saltiness resembled a true salted duck egg yolk. 9/10.

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Option 2: I love lotus seed paste (莲蓉, lian rong)— it's so creamy and luxurious with a marzipan-like flavor. I thought the earthy matcha flavoring and the slightly bitter, salty richness of the black sesame was a great balance.

I liked the soft, slightly custardy texture of the đen sesame here, but next time around, I want to lớn experiment with a grittier, crunchier texture, something more lượt thích a đen sesame brittle candy.

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Option 3: PINEAPPLE. Personally, I like rich, nutty fillings better, but if you lượt thích fruitier desserts, you'll love this one. It reminded me of a Taiwanese pineapple cake (凤梨酥). The pineapple's juice & fibrous flesh cooks down into a caramelized, jammy sticky filling, and paired with the vegan browned butter, this was a delight.

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Option 4: CHOCOLATE! Jujube date paste is pretty grainy because of the date skin, và can be cloyingly sweet, so the roasted walnut studded throughout the mashed paste and the smooth, bitter chocolate center was the perfect combination. This was fudgey, deep, và delightfully decadent.

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Option 5: Onto the crunchy nut fillings. You cannot go wrong with peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, and sticky honey. địa chỉ the Sichuan peppercorn for a slight citrusy aroma & buzz of savoriness, and... *chef's kiss*.

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Option 6: My faaaavorite. I love nori và all things furikake, I love salty-sweet flavors that veer more towards savory, I love pistachio, I love nutty, seedy fillings. This was a no-brainer for me.