it’s mooncake season! for all you non-chinese out there – and I can’t imagine there are many of you, considering how quickly that nation is expanding – mooncakes are an annual confection that appear this time of year, to celebrate the mid-autumn festival (and its full, round moon).
traditionally, these were rounds of lotus paste surrounded by and baked brown with an outer pastry. like a meat pie, but with a sweet filling (the closest western reference being frangipane) and a sweet crust (reminiscent of fig newtons).
at most, there were nuts or salted egg yolks for interest.
nowadays, it’s gone all fancy-like, with the festival adopted commercially as the season for mooncake-shaped sweets filled with chocolates, brownies, champagne – you name it.
these modern ones are also coated with a glutinous rice flour outer firmed with shortening and coloured like the rainbow – very cutely marketed as snowskin. it also is a rather acquired taste – I most definitely prefer the simplicity and flavor of the traditional baked good.
but whatever your preference for flavor or style, the cardinal requirement for Chinese sweets is that it be not too sweet – and these hua ting ones certainly fulfil that.
I like the health-conscious bend mooncakes have taken in recent years (though let’s face it, it don’t mean they’re healthy), and the not-too-sweetness of these mooncakes also makes them easily eatable.
if you’re considering your pick amongst the hundreds going on sale these couple weeks, then hua ting’s mooncakes are a good bet for the traditionalist – the baked ones have the choice of macadamia nuts (which I love), yolk or no, and an intriguing milk tea one I’ve yet to try; and the snowskin ones come with green tea, champagne and yam flavours. interesting flavours that are still comfortingly familiar (and still deserve the moniker of mooncake, as opposed to those excuses for cake and ice cream).
there’s a stand at the lobby of the hotel where you can pick the mooncakes up (or do some sampling), and if not – online’s definitely the way to go.
p.s. I forgot to mention the lovely red box with tassel and bright reds – all the packaging make great works of art!