Monday, September 28, 2009

Well Over The Moon

I was just away from home for only 4 years and the mooncakes that I used to know are now almost beyond recognition.

To begin with, mooncakes are part and parcel for this particular Chinese festival--known in Chinese--Mid. Autumn Festival, aka in English as Lantern Festival/Mooncake Festival. The origins of this festival was about the celebration of the harvest which took place in the middle of autumn, that will be in August by the lunar calendar. 15th of August, to be exact when it is believed that will the brightest full moon of the entire year. The mooncakes, which are consumed on this festival, are made to resemble the moon, in a way, with the egg yolk within the lotus paste.

(Snow-skin mooncakes)

There are alot of myths associated with this festival, including one which took place during Yuan Dynasty when the Han Chinese were reigned by the Mongols. It was said that notes with plans to upsurp the dynasty were hidden within the mooncakes.

Chinese version of cakes
The idea of cakes are very different from the Western form of cakes. Chinese cakes are nothing like sponge cakes, closer to biscuits but softer and they usually come with a filling. For mooncakes, the golden brown crust is not flakey but soft. Traditionally, lotus paste is used for the fillings, together with egg yolks. The more luxurious mooncakes are those that come with four yolks, so that each quarter of a mooncake will carry the entire egg yolk.

I love the egg yolks!

A slice of the cake
The industry for mooncakes has definitely flourished in a span of four years. So much so that even occidental companies like The TWG and Starbucks (yes, Starbucks) are competiting for a slice of this industry.

Many years ago, the snow-skin mooncakes have come and settled into our selection of mooncakes for good. It is softer than the traditional crust and it's cool to taste. Due to the nature of the skin, it has to be stored in the fridge.

To give you an idea of how many flavours of mooncakes in this current industry:

champagne, truffles, lychee liquer, soursop, apricot, strawberry, osmanthus (see the photo above), jasmine infused, dark chocolates, green tea, black sesame, durian, chrysanthemum, figs, ginger, cinnamon.............