Loathed by traditionalists, loved by those who don’t want their blood pressure to resemble a cricket score, Hong Kong’s modern mooncakes have become a Mid-Autumn Festival phenomenon.
The Chinese Mooncake is traditionally a belt-busting mix of salted egg yolks and sweet lotus paste in a hockey puck sized pastry. Believe or not, and after tasting one you might not, mooncakes are a desert and their dense filling can put a significant bulge in your waistline. So in response to demand from people who don't want to wobble when they walk, pastry chefs have added some lighter, and better, mooncake flavors. Here are some of our favorites that you'll find in shops around Hong Kong.
The original modern Mooncake. Snow skinned mooncakes hit the headlines in 1994 when Raffles Hotel in Singapore launched a champagne version of the desert - since then they’ve taken Asia by storm. Chilled rather than baked and named after their translucent skin, they’re much sweeter than they’re oily counterparts and come in a variety of fruit flavours.
Red Bean Paste
If you don’t want to get too far from the Chinese traditions of the Mooncake, red bean paste is the most popular sweet filling in Hong Kong - although watch out for them slipping in a hardened egg yolk or two. The many Hong Kong dessert shops around town should be stacked high with red bean paste mooncakes.
Everyone knows that if you really want to get to the business end of a great dessert, you skip the beans, pastes, and fruits and pick up the cacao. Chocolate covered, chocolate dipped and chocolate stuffed, Hong Kong’s chocolate Mooncakes are best enjoyed by those with gym membership.
Just like the fruit itself, the Durian mooncake packs a pungent punch. Tackle the smell and this boasts the best fruit taste around.
The mooncake meets the bagel. Experiments with savoury mooncake fillings have thus far been less than convincing; they just weren’t made for a BLT. Cream cheese, on the other hand, has just the right consistency for a convincing mooncake.
Taking its inspiration from traditional English custard cream biscuits, the custard cream mooncake is one of the few fusion mooncakes that still gets stuffed into the traditional pastry.
Once a novelty, now a firm favourite; Haagen Dazs Mooncakes may only be mooncakes in name but these chocolate coated, ice cream stuffed pies have established themselves as a Mid Autumn festival must. During the festival expect to find queues for these frozen delicacies.
Ideal for those who want to at least pretend that their dessert has health benefits. Green tea mooncakes are popular with those who can’t quite stomach the candy covered sweetness in most of the mooncakes above. The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong usually does a mean green tea flavoured mooncake.
An absolute hit with the kids, marshmallow stuffed mooncakes usually have a chocolate or ice cream filling and soft marshmallow case. Best enjoyed freshly warmed so the marshmallow melts and mixes with the chocolate.
Halfway between a mooncake and an egg tart, cheesecake flavoured mooncakes are not only filled with ricotta, egg and sugar cheesecake but have a soft cake-like crust. You can usually get them in vanilla, strawberry and chocolate flavours.