Mooncake, a traditional bakery product eaten during Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, is considered as the symbol of family reunion and represents the round harvest moon. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, Chinese people will do lunar worship and moon watching, as well as enjoy the traditional delicacy of mooncakes. The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the four most important Chinese festivals. This year, the festival falls on September 12th.
In general, mooncakes are round or rectangular in shape, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 4–5 cm thick. Mooncakes are typically baked and consists of a thin tender skin enveloping a sweet and slightly oily filling. A thick filling usually made from lotus seed paste is surrounded by a relatively thin (2–3 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs. The yolk in the center of the mooncake is the symbol of the full moon. The saltiness of the yolk balances well with the sweet filling in the mooncake. Although rarely so, mooncakes can also be steamed or fried.
Many types of fillings can be found in traditional mooncakes according to the region culture:
Lotus seed paste - Considered by some to be the original and most luxurious mooncake filling, lotus paste filling is found in all types of mooncakes.
Red bean and other sweet bean pastes - Bean pastes are some of the most common fillings found in Chinese desserts. Although red bean paste, made from azuki beans, is the most common worldwide, there are regional and original preferences for bean paste made from Mung bean as well as black bean known throughout history.
Jujube paste - A sweet paste made from the ripe fruits of the jujube plant. The paste is dark red in color, a little fruity in flavor and slightly sour in taste. Depending on the quality of the paste, jujube paste may be confused with red bean paste.
Five kernel - A filling consisting of 5 types of nuts and seeds, coarsely chopped and held together with maltose syrup. Commonly used nuts and seeds include: walnuts, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, peanuts, sesame, or almonds. In addition, the mixture will usually contain candied winter melon, Chinese dried ham, or pieces of rock sugar as additional flavoring.
According to traditional Chinese culture, the mooncake is far more than a kind of food. It has an imprint on top consisting of the Chinese characters for "longevity" or "harmony" as well as the name of the bakery and filling in the moon cake. If you came to China during Mid-Autumn Festival, don’t forget to enjoy a piece of mooncake under the beautiful, round moon.