A mooncake (yue bing) is a Chinese pastry traditionally filled with a sweet, dense filling (make that very sweet, very dense) and one or more whole salted egg yolk (symbolizing the full moon). The tops of these delicacies are decorated with imprints of Chinese characters for longevity and harmony and the name of the bakery as well as images of the moon, flowers, vines, Chang’e (Chinese goddess of the moon), and a rabbit (symbol of the moon), and there really hasn’t been a Mid-Autumn Festival without mooncakes since the Tang Dynasty (618-690 and 705-907) when they were first used as offerings to the moon and eaten during worship. Today, mooncakes are customarily offered and shared between friends, gifted to business clients and relatives, and eaten at family gatherings while celebrating the festival, and there are many different crusts, fillings and regional styles.
Although deeply rooted in ancient tradition, the sky’s the limit when it comes to contemporary-style mooncakes. The myriad modern creations include low-fat and sugar-free versions, exotic flavors and ingredients, and unique, custard-style fillings. Häagen-Dazs was one of the first to create an ice cream mooncake. They were a big hit (everybody loves ice cream!).
Mooncakes in Modern China, by Meredith Butenhoff, Allyn Wiggins, Hattie Grant, & Brandon Bank (Debunking Myths of China, Furman University, October 25, 2016), article includes recipe & instructions on how-to-make mooncakes
The Right Way to Eat Mooncake, by Ellen Duong (Sampan, August 5, 2016)
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Feature photo is courtesy of Flickr user, Chee Kweng Teoh, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0