Chances are you’ve seen one these hand-sized, golden-brown pastries once in your lifetime. If not, then you sure are missing out! These cakes can be eaten at anytime throughout the year (well, obviously) but are mainly eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival because of its significance to the holiday. They often come in tin boxes of four, and are rather expensive to say the least. The cakes are made in a bakery with the utmost care, and each cake can have a different Chinese character baked onto the top, varying from words like hope to prosperity. The most common mooncake is made with a light, flaky, and slightly greasy crust on the outside, and lotus paste on the inside. Each mooncake usually has from one to four egg yolks on the inside as well, and each additional yolk raises the price and “prestige” of the mooncake. More recently, bakers have tried to be more creative with their mooncakes in order to cater to their customers’ various cravings. Newer mooncakes include things like red bean paste, coconut, nuts, fruit, yam, ice cream, and even meat (yes, that does sound rather bizarre)! These cakes do get rather addicting, so if I had to suggest something from experience, it would be to avoid these if you’re watching your weight.
So where did these mooncakes originate from?
As legend has it, these mooncakes were originally created around the 14th century, during the Ming Dynasty. During this time, China was occupied by Mongolians, and as such, were prohibited to hold group gatherings by the Mongol empire. Liu Bowen (li-yo bow-when), an important figure of the Zhejiang (zhuh-gee-yahng) Province, devised an uprising by distributing small pastries throughout China, and falsely spread rumors that these cakes were to bless the Mongol rulers with longevity. Instead, these cakes each held a slip of paper inside of them that read, “Kill the Mongols on the 15th day of the 8th month,” and once a person received this message, they would dispose of any evidence by eating both the pastry and the slip of paper. On the night of the coup d’etat, the moon shined bright, helping the rebels fight their cause, and thus came the name for the small pastry—the mooncake. Ever since that uprising, mooncakes have been eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival to commemorate the overthrowing of the Mongol empire.
Especially given the fact that a mooncake costs around $15 to $20 each, I figured it’d be nice to save you some money and show you a website that describes how to make a mooncake by yourself. No need to thank me!