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Guide to the mooncake

Snow skin mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival

Curious about all the intricately decorated desserts that have cropped up over the last few weeks?  It’s all part of the Mid-Autumn Festival this weekend on September 30.

This festival, also known as the Mooncake Festival or the Moon Festival, is celebrated by the Chinese and Vietnamese.

On this day, families and friends gather together to carry around beautiful paper lanterns beneath the moon and enjoy different types of mooncakes.

Traditional mooncakes

Mooncakes are a delicious Asian dessert for anyone with a sweet tooth, but watch out because most traditional mooncakes are made with peanut oil nowadays. However, those with peanut allergies can still enjoy the snow skin (or ice skin) and Teochew mooncakes.

The outside layers of mooncakes are different depending on what type you get, but the insides are generally filled with a soft, but dense and sweet paste. Make sure not to have too many of these tasty bites because one mooncake can be up to a whopping 1,000 calories.

Types of Mooncakes

With new varieties coming out every year, selecting a flavour or even a type of mooncake can be overwhelming. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular types of mooncakes available:

Traditional mooncakes: These have a soft, chewy shiny outer layer that crumbles slightly when you bite into it. The skin is created mainly from a mixture of flour, alkaline water, golden syrup and oil. The insides can be filled with a variety of different things such as red bean paste or lotus paste with a savoury preserved duck egg yolk in the middle or sometimes an assortment of nuts and seeds.

Traditional mooncakes with a duck egg yolk centre

Snow skin mooncakes (aka Ice skin mooncakes): The outer layer or skin of this mooncake is made of glutinous rice, powdered sugar and lard. This mixture creates a very smooth, velvety texture similar to Japanese mochi, but without the chewiness. The insides filled with anything from the traditional lotus paste to more interesting things such as Durian or yam paste, strawberry flavor or black sesame seed paste.

Snow skin mooncake

Teochew spiral mooncakes: These are the round, flaky mooncakes composed mainly of flour, shortening and sugar. This delicate pastry can be filled with any of the typical mooncake fillings, but can also be stuffed with exotic green tea or taro flavours as well.

Where to buy mooncakes in Vancouver

Here’s where you can buy some: 

  • Maxims (Metrotown and 257 Keefer St. in Chinatown)
  • Pine House Bakery (5870 Victoria Drive, 3396 Kingsway, 2462 Hastings St)
  • Anna’s Cake House (Lougheed Mall, 5510 Cambie St, Lansdowne Mall, 606 East Broadway)
  • T&T SuperMarket
  • Superstore

Make your own Mooncakes

Feel like whipping up a batch of your own? Give these relatively easy Chinese mooncake recipes a try:

If you’re interested in checking out the beautiful and increasingly more unique moon festival lanterns visit one of these locations after dark this weekend:

If you can’t make the festivities this year, mark your calendars because the festival will be on September 19 next year.

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