With the fast development and increasingly comprehensive power of China, the Chinese culture has received much more attention in abroad. Today, I’ll introduce a traditional Chinsese pastry – Mooncake to you. Do you know it?
What is Mooncake?
Mooncakes are traditional snacks/desserts of Mid-Autumn Festival. In ancient times, mooncakes were a kind of offering to the moon. They are named after the moon goddess (Chang’e), who is said to make this kind of cake. People often give mooncakes as gifts when visiting friends and family around Mid-Autumn.
The mooncake is not just a food, but also a profound cultural tradition in Chinese people’s hearts. Traditional mooncakes have an imprint on top consisting of the Chinese characters for “longevity” or “harmony”, as well as the name of the bakery and the filling inside. Imprints of the moon, Lady Chang’e on the moon, flowers, vines, or a rabbit (symbol of the moon) may surround the characters for additional decoration. And, In Chinese culture, roundness symbolizes completeness and togetherness. A full moon symbolizes prosperity and reunion for the whole family. At Mid-Autumn Festival people eat mooncakes together with family, or present mooncakes to relatives or friends, to express love and best wishes.
Top 10 famous flavors of mooncakes
- Five Kernel and Roast Pork
Five kernel and roast pork mooncakes are the most traditional classic flavor. Compared to other common flavors, this kind of mooncake is much more expensive. They are filled with mixed nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, and dried winter melon, sesame, and pumpkin seeds) and roast pork. You will get a different taste with each bite.
- Red Bean Paste
Red bean paste mooncakes are filled with a rich, thick, red bean paste, and taste sweet and smooth. The red bean paste gives a lingering flavor, and the scent fills your mouth after each bite.
- Lotus Seed Paste
Lotus seed paste is considered the most luxurious mooncake filling. Due to the high price of lotus paste, white kidney bean paste and duck eggs is sometimes used as filler to make sure you don’t go too cheap and get a real lotus paste mooncake.
Lotus seed paste mooncakes are a famous Mid-Autumn Festival dessert of Cantonese origin, which have become popular all over China and even overseas.
- Snow Skin
Snow skin originated from Hong Kong, and have become fashionable in China. It is non-baked mooncake, whose crust is made of frozen glutinous rice, and looks snow white. Now some people add juice to the crust to make it look more colorful. The fillings can be sweet or savory, or both, such as fruit and duck egg yolks.
- Vegetable and Fruit
Fruit and vegetable mooncakes are filled with fresh vegetables and fruits, and taste soft and smooth. Fillings including honeydew, litchi, and pineapple, which make it healthier.
Chocolate mooncakes’ crust are made from chocolate and the filling can be oats, berries, Oreo flavor, etc. This kind of mooncake makes Mid-Autumn Festival more romantic because the attractive mooncake appearance and the thick scent of chocolate mix traditional Chinese culture and Western romantic culture together.
- Green Tea
Green tea mooncakes are mainly filled with tea leaves and other ingredients, like lotus paste. With the taste of fresh tea leaves, the usually greasy taste of mooncake is well balanced.
- Cream Cheese
The main feature of cream cheese mooncakes is the golden and crispy crust with a thick milky flavor. It is not as sweet as other mooncakes. There are many fillings, mostly pastes and jams, to meet different customers’ tastes.
Seafood mooncakes are more expensive than other types of traditional mooncakes. As their name suggests, they are filled with seafood like abalone and seaweed. They taste fresh and salty.
- Ice Cream
Ice cream mooncake is a new look for traditional Chinese mooncakes. Cooling instead of warming, the refreshing taste makes it popular among young people. The crust is often made from chocolate and the fillings can be any flavor of ice cream you like.
Regional Varieties of mooncakes
-Cantonese-Style Mooncakes — Sweet with Various Fillings
Originating from Guangdong and Guangxi provinces, the Cantonese mooncakes has multiple variations. The ingredients used in the fillings are various. The most used ingredients include lotus seed paste, melon seed paste, ham, chicken, duck, roast pork, mushrooms, and egg yolks. Cantonese-style mooncakes taste sweet. More elaborate versions contain four egg yolks, representing the four phases of the moon. Recent contemporary forms (albeit nontraditional) sold in Hong Kong are even made from chocolate, ice-cream or jelly.
-Beijing-Style Mooncakes — Meticulous Decoration
This style is the typical variation in North China. It originated in Beijing and Tianjin. It features the delicate use of sweetness and meticulous decoration. The common proportion of pastry and filling for Beijing-style mooncakes is 4:6.
This style has two variations. One, called di qiang, was influenced by the Suzhou-style mooncake. It has a light, foamy dough as opposed to a flaky one. The other variation, called “fan mao”, has a flaky, white dough. The two most popular fillings are the mountain hawthorn and wisteria blossom flavors. The Beijing-style mooncake is often meticulously decorated.
-Suzhou-Style Mooncakes — Crisp Layers of Flaky Dough
Suzhou-style mooncakes (Su mooncakes for short) represent the Yangtze Delta region around Shanghai. This style is known for its layers of flaky dough and generous allotment of sugar and lard. Su mooncakes appeared more than a thousand years ago. There are both sweet and savory Suzhou mooncakes. the latter served hot and usually filled with pork mince. Filling made from salt and pepper are common in flaky Suzhou-style mooncakes. It is also smaller than most other regional varieties. Suzhou-style mooncakes feature both sweet and savory types,
-Chaoshan-Style Mooncakes — Larger with Vegi-Paste
Chaoshan is a region of Guangdong in China where many ethnic Chinese in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand come from. This is another flaky crust variety, but is larger in size than the Suzhou variety. It is close in diameter to the Cantonese style, but thinner. A variety of fillings are used, like mung bean paste, and black bean and potato paste.but the aroma of lard after roasting is emphasised.
-Yunnan-Style Mooncakes — Ham and Flower Fillings
Yunnan-style mooncakes have two most fomous style: ham mooncakes and flower mooncakes.
Ham mooncakes are delicious with fillings of diced ham and sweet honey. The flavor are both sweet and a little bit salty.
Flowers are popular in Yunnan as cake fillings. Fresh roses or other edible flowers are wrapped in the pastry skin of flower mooncakes.
-Hong-Kong-Style Mooncakes — Ice-Skin
Ice-skin mooncakes were first popular among Hong Kongers. The skin of the mooncakes is not made of ice. They got this name because their skins are white, and are not baked in an oven, but stored in a refrigerator instead.
Ths style is made from shortcrust pastry which is rich, crumbly and buttery crust like pie dough. The most popular fillings are similar to those sweet Cantonese-style mooncake such as sweetened red bean paste, lotus seed paste, taro paste with egg yolks in the middle of the filling.
This style is also inspired by the Suzhou-style. It is prevalent in Zhejiang province, and has a compact covering. The fillings are either seaweed or ham; it is also known for its spicy and salty flavor.
The Most Popular Mooncake Brands in China :
Daohuaxiang (稻花香), Anqi (安琪), Tianlun (天伦), Huamei (华美), Ronghua (荣华), CANSO (元祖), Maxim’s (美心), Miqi (米旗), Xinghualou (杏花楼), and Maiquer (麦趣尔).