Around early fall, we start seeing moon cakes in Chinese restaurants and bakeries. The mid-autumn tradition is based on the lunar calendar around the eighth month of the year when the moon is at it’s fullest. Known as the Harvest Moon Festival it is celebrated by asians around the world. This is the second most significant season of the year for those of Chinese descent, the first being the Lunar New Year. This year’s Harvest Moon Festival is on September 19th ( 2013).
You can find out about the legends of the Harvest Moon Festival at various sites on the web. Two significant stories as told to us when we were little were about the Goddess Dancing on the Moon as well as the Man in the Moon.
Moon cakes are given as gifts during the festival season to family and friends. They are wonderfully dense made with the dark richness of sweet lotus seed paste (sometimes red bean paste) and enveloped in pastry. Inside the moon cake you will find a bright orange duck egg yolk, and sometimes more, to represent the harvest moon. A slice is all you need, right?
We’re on the hunt for the most intriguing Moon Cakes of the year from around the world and here are just a few that are too good for words!!
Raffles Singapore — the legendary hotel presents two new flavours this year. The Snow-skin Kaffir LIme Mooncake is sweet and tropical. The Snow-Skin Rum and Golden Raisin Mooncake is made of smooth white chocolate with plump golden raisins soaked in rum. They are also bringing back everyone’s favourite Snow-skin Mooncake with Champagne Truffle & Ganache. Available online as of June 1.
Shang Palace at Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore — Master Chef Steven Ng of Shang Palace presents ten premium moon cake flavours this year. Intriguing flavours include Red Bean Paste with Almond and low sugar Purple Sweet Potato that not only presents well but is a rich source of anti-oxidants making it one of the most healthy offerings of the season. Also those seeking a twist of tradition and modern should try the Mini Bird’s Nest with Custard Snow-Skin Moon Cake. Available at the hotel and retailers across Singapore.
GODIVA Chocolatiers have non-traditional moon cakes gift sets that include delicious creamy truffles filled with flavours of mango, peach, pomegranate.
Even ice cream makers Haagen Dazs is back offering a twist to the traditional with their unique ice cream moon cake flavour collections. The four piece gift set comes in white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate and strawberry chocolate.
Okay, while I love these unconventional offerings, I know my parents LOVE the traditional ones. In Toronto, I usually go to Dynasty Chinese Cuisine in Yorkville to purchase the gift sets for the family. The pastry is delicious and the sweet lotus paste has a perfectly smooth consistency. Every year, my parents boost how they are too expensive (do parents always say that?) but they always tell me they are SO GOOD!
But I would love to know…where do you get your favourite Moon Cakes?