With the Mid-Autumn Festival upon us, the Asian American women of Ingredient recently got together to enjoy an evening of tea drinking and mooncake making.
While many different countries celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with special traditions and meals, one of the most iconic foods is definitely the mooncake. While they’re now readily available for sale, and the mooncake making process can be long, coming together to enjoy making good food has always been something Ingredient loves.
We make our mooncakes with lotus seed filling and salted egg yolks. Take a bite, and they have an eggy, toasty crust — and then the sweet, subtly coconutty lotus paste and creamy egg hit. They pair perfectly with White Peony tea: think light, floral, and effervescent.
For us, the Mid-Autumn Festival is all about the small joys and little celebrations. It’s a day to celebrate Asian American pride, tea time, and beautiful food.
Here’s the recipe so you can make your own mooncakes this year — they’re very pretty and make sweet gifts.
Kitchen tip: We used mini molds to make our mooncakes. The cakes are so rich, it’s hard to eat a full-size one (many people cut them into 8 servings!), and the minis are super cute. You can find mini and full-size molds online.
Yield: 16 mooncakes (8 filled with lotus seed, 8 filled with lotus seed and egg yolk)
For the filling:
5 oz dried lotus seeds
⅔ cup granulated sugar
6 Tbsp coconut oil
8 salted egg yolks
For the pastry:
½ cup honey
1 tsp lye water
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 large egg
1 tsp water
Special equipment: mooncake molds
- To make the filling: Using a paring knife, split the lotus seeds open. Remove and discard the green germ in the center. In a medium bowl, cover the lotus seeds in water and soak for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Drain the water from the lotus seeds. Place the seeds in a medium pot and cover them with 1” of water. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes or until the seeds easily mash between your fingers.
- Drain the seeds and place them in a food processor. Add the sugar and a pinch of salt. Process until smooth and the consistency of hummus, 30 to 45 seconds.
- Pour the mixture into a large skillet. Heat over medium heat, and add the coconut oil. Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until the paste thickens considerably and turns glossy. The filling should resemble very soft cookie dough. Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, to make the pastry dough: In a medium bowl, sift the flours together.
- In another medium bowl, whisk together the honey, lye water, and vegetable oil until combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour until it forms a pebbly dough. Gently knead the dough in the bowl until it becomes one mass. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- To make the mooncakes: Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a 1-oz scoop, portion out 8 pieces of lotus filling and roll them into balls. Set aside.
- Portion out 8 tablespoons of the remaining filling. Flatten 1 portion, place 1 salted egg yolk in the center, wrap the filling around the yolk to cover it, and roll it into a ball. Repeat with remaining portions. Set aside.
- Using the 1-oz scoop, portion out 16 pieces of pastry dough and roll them into balls.
- Lightly flour your work surface, and using a rolling pin, roll 1 dough ball into a ⅛”-thick circle. Place 1 ball of filling in the center of the dough, and fold the dough around it, gently pressing and squeezing the dough so it covers the ball. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- Gently place a mooncake ball into the mold, and turn it upright onto the prepared baking sheet. Press the plunger down until you feel resistance and push the mooncake out. Repeat with the remaining mooncake balls.
- Bake the mooncakes for 8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg and water together to create a wash.
- Remove mooncakes from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Brush the egg wash on the tops and sides of the mooncakes, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant.
- Allow the mooncakes to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.
- Rest the mooncakes for 2 days at room temperature, so they can release their oils. Their skins will become shiny, soft, and supple. Enjoy with your favorite tea!
Adapted from: Two Red Bowls