3 ways to make mooncakes

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Today: Cynthia of Two Red Bowls is bringing traditional Cantonese mooncakes stateside, so you can get prepped up for the upcoming Chinese Mid-Autumn festival.

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There’s a lot to lớn love about the Mid-Autumn Festival, one of my favorite holidays of the year. Its date is based on the lunar cycle, và so it has no fixed date on the calendar, but traditionally falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar year (coinciding with a full moon). In 2019, we"ll celebrate it on September 13. 


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The celebration is something lượt thích a Chinese Thanksgiving—a time for family, celebration, và a whole lot of good food. It’s also the time when we eat one of the treats I love best in all the world: mooncakes. These goodies get their name from the full moon that marks the date of the festival, and they’re about as rich và decadent as Chinese desserts get.

A supple, golden-brown crust (made of a simple dough comprising all-purpose flour, vegetable oil, và a bit of golden syrup) hides impossibly smooth, dense fillings like white lotus paste or deliciously sweet red bean, và my favorite varieties have a salty, savory duck yolk (or two, or more!) nestled in the center. They’re so satisfying that my family used to cut just one into eight tiny slivers and share them between the four of us.


In Hong Kong and mainland China, mooncakes can be found everywhere in early September. Stateside, they’re a little less plentiful, so one year, I decided lớn try my hand at making my own. As it turns out, making these gems was surprisingly easy, a ton of fun, and yielded a very exciting reward.

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To make a traditional Chinese mooncake, you vì chưng need a few specialty items—namely, the mold—but an Asian market or quick click to Amazon can always help. After that, the process is straightforward, resulting in a mooncake that is incomparably lighter & kinder on your stomach, but still just as (if not more) delicious as the store-bought versions. The homemade paste in particular is a dream; commercial lotus paste can sometimes be cloying, but when it’s homemade, it"s guaranteed to be fragrant, delicate, and floral.

Many store-bought fillings incorporate lard for a richer mouthfeel, but most homemade recipes I found điện thoại tư vấn for regular vegetable oil instead. As a result, many of the people who followed these recipes noted problems with overly soft fillings. I sought lớn avoid that by using another fat that, like lard, stays solid at room temperature. Thus, I opted for coconut oil, which lent the fillings a nice, nuanced coconut undertone. Otherwise, vegetable shortening may be another substitute. 

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Finally, the recipe here is designed for miniature mooncakes, which are about 1.75 to lớn 2 inches in diameter. For traditional-sized mooncakes (around 4 inches in diameter), you may need to lớn play around with the sizes of the fillings and the wrapper doughs to get the right shape.

White Lotus Paste

Makes 2 cups

1 cup dried lotus seeds, or two 12-ounce cans cooked lotus seeds in water2/3 to ba phần tư cup sugar (to taste)Pinch salt (optional)6 tablespoons coconut oil

Traditional Cantonese Mooncakes

Makes 12 lớn 14 miniature mooncakes

1/4 cup golden syrup (like Lyle"s)1/2 teaspoon alkaline water (also called kansui, or potassium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate solution)2 tablespoons vegetable oil1/2 cup all-purpose flour1/2 cup cake flour (alternatively, omit cake flour và use 1 cup of all-purpose flour)2 cups of lotus paste (you can also use red bean paste)1 miniature (50 gram) mooncake mold

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First, make the mooncake filling. If you’re using dried lotus seeds, soak them in plenty of water for at least 6 to 8 hours, or overnight. The seeds should soften & plump up considerably. The next morning or when you’re ready to lớn use, rinse the seeds, then split them in half & remove the green sprout in the center (the sprouts are bitter, and will affect the taste if they’re left in). 

Place the seeds in a pot with plenty of water & bring it khổng lồ a simmer over medium-low heat. Let the seeds cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until they are soft enough that you can mash them with a fork. Drain the cooked seeds, then place them in a food processor with the sugar & blend until smooth. (If you"re using canned lotus seeds, skip straight lớn this step.) You may need to showroom 2 or 3 tablespoons of water in this step lớn achieve a smooth texture. 

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Next, pour the purée into a medium saucepan or skillet và cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until much of the water has been cooked away and the purée has thickened lớn a consistency similar khổng lồ hummus. At this point, if the purée isn’t as smooth as you like, you can blend it again.

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When your purée is the consistency of your liking, showroom the fat of your choice. Most any fat that is solid at room temperature (excluding butter) should work for this. I used coconut oil because I thought it would be fun to add a touch of coconut flavor khổng lồ the filling, but lard is most traditional here, and shortening would work as well. Stir the mixture until the fat is fully incorporated, then continue to cook over medium heat until the purée becomes glossy and forms a dough that sticks khổng lồ the spoon in one mass, about 4 khổng lồ 5 minutes. The consistency should be similar lớn soft cookie dough at this point. Remove from heat and chill until ready to use.

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Now it"s time to get started on the dough. In a large bowl, whisk together the golden syrup, alkaline water, & vegetable oil until blended. (The mixture will likely not fully combine, but vì the best you can to lớn emulsify it.) Next, địa chỉ cửa hàng in the two flours & use a wooden spoon khổng lồ stir until it forms a pebbly dough.

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Gather the mixture together and gently knead it just until it comes together into one mass—take care not to lớn knead vigorously. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 45 minutes khổng lồ an hour.

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Preheat your oven lớn 350° F. Divide the filling into 12 equal pieces & shape each of them into a ball. Each ball of filling should be about 2 tablespoons lớn 2 50% tablespoons—roughly the form size of a golf ball. If you have a kitchen scale, each ball should weigh about 33 to lớn 34 grams.

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For each mooncake, scoop about a tablespoon of dough & roll it out between two pieces of parchment so that it’s about 3 to 3 một nửa inches in diameter. 

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For this next step, you may want khổng lồ flour your hands lightly, though I didn’t và it was generally fine. Place a ball of filling in the center & fold up the dough around the ball. It likely will not cover the whole ball at once, nor should it. Gently push, press, and squeeze the dough, holding the ball securely in your palm, until the dough gradually covers the filling ball. The firmer your filling, the easier this will be. If it really won’t squeeze over the filling, don’t worry—just pinch off another small piece of dough, roll it out, and use it to patch the ball. I did this a few times & the results were just as good. 

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To make things even easier, you can even just roll out two small balls of dough (about a teaspoon each) & fold one around each end of the filling so that you cover all of the lotus paste without needing lớn stretch or squeeze.

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Place the mooncake ball into your mold & turn it upright on your surface. Press the plunger down until you feel resistance. Lift the mooncake mold off the table & use the plunger to lớn push the mooncake out. Place on a Silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet while you make the rest of the cakes. If it’s a hot day, you may want to lớn place these in the fridge to lớn keep their khung while you finish folding.

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When you’re finished forming the mooncakes, bake them at 350° F for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk an egg with a splash of water until smooth. 

Remove the mooncakes from the oven và let cool for about 10 minutes. Brush on the egg wash, then bake the cakes for another 10 lớn 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top and fragrant. 

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Let cool completely. Store the mooncakes in an airtight container for 2 days to lớn “release oil”—the mooncake skins will become shiny, soft, và supple, & it’s at this point that they’re meant to lớn be enjoyed. (But I won’t tell if you sneak one fresh.) Gift them lớn friends, or enjoy at home yourself!