September 28, 2015

2015 Mooncake roundup

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I'm not a big mooncake fan, so I normally only buy mooncakes to bring home to Taipei for mom so that she can give them to family and friends.  This year, however, I chose not to go home for Mid-Autumn Festival since I had just spent a week and a half with the parental units in the U.S... so I cut my mooncake purchase to a minimum this season.

The only mooncakes I did buy this year were from Da Shi Jie (大師姐).  Having tasted her very special batch a few weeks ago, I had the good fortune of being able to order this very limited batch of old school mooncake with lotus seed paste, three yolks, and Indian almonds (古法三黃欖仁蓮蓉月餅).  Last year these were made in such limited quantities that they were only given out to select friends.  The production was increased this year to a reputed 500 boxes.

What's special about this particular mooncake?  Well, in addition to the third yolk - which, actually, doesn't do anything for me since I prefer my mooncakes without yolk - the lotus seed paste actually had some lard mixed in.

The yolks inside were a little uneven, with some drier than others, but the lotus seed paste was definitely smooth and yum... with richer flavors.  The Indian almonds (欖仁) added additional crunch and fragrance.  And I definitely noticed the oil left on the plate by the mooncake...  We definitely should have heated up the mooncake before chomping...

While my firm receives mooncakes from brokers every year, this year was the first year that I have received mooncakes as gifts in a personal capacity - as normally I turn down mooncake offers from friends.  I gotta say that people are getting more and more creative with the packaging around these things.

Duddell's (都爹利會館), the 2-macaron restaurant, collaborated with local artist Frog King (蛙王) to deliver a very unique box for their mooncakes.  I received a box of these from my friend who is part owner of Duddell's.

Custard mooncakes seem to be the rage these days, so it's no surprise that these were in the box...

After nuking for 20 seconds, the thing was pretty loose... and fell apart pretty easily.  In terms of flavor, the taste of coconut was pretty strong... which was nice and distinctive but it tasted slightly unbalanced for my liking.

I also received a gift of two boxes of mooncakes from Lisboa Food and Wine, and I was really curious about how they would taste.  This is a business behind some of the best restaurants in the Hong Kong / Macau region, so expectations were high.

The Grand Buffet (自助山) is the buffet restaurant of the group, and somewhere I have yet to pay a visit.  Their mooncakes were shipped in a faux leather cylinder with a handle.  Opening up the cylinder reveals 6 small silicone tubs, each containing a mooncake.  The design is ingenious because the silicone tubs can be repurposed for a variety of uses, and they can be collapsed for easy storage and carriage.  The cylinder itself functions as a rather elegant and handy carrier for wine, which is perfect for someone like moi!

A friend who used to receive them had commented that these custard mooncakes were pretty tasty...

... and they were!  The custard filling had tiny bits of egg yolk peppered throughout, adding both more yolk flavor as well as texture.  Yum.  This was also a little firmer and did not fall apart as easily.

The other box from Lisboa Food and Wine comes from Le Salon de The de Joël Robuchon and contained mooncakes made with chocolate.  Four flavors were available, arranged in a 七星伴月 fashion.  If you think that the traditional Cantonese mooncakes with lotus seed paste are too rich and sweet, then these aren't for you...

Green apple

A layer of green apple jelly lies in the middle of the chocolate ganache.  The jelly was pretty sweet but had some acidity here, although it was overpowered by the ganache...


I was surprised to see wafers as part of the filling... The yuzu (柚子) flavors were definitely more prominent compared to the green apple, but the wafers were soggy than I expected.

Rum raisin

The rum raisin flavors were a little weaker than I expected, and once again the wafer filling was just soggy.


I think I'd much prefer having jelly in the middle of the ganache...  The pear flavors were decent, although once again very rich and almost a little too sweet together with the ganache.

The last box came from my friend behind Mara Js Pâtisserie.  I had asked my friend not to give me any mooncakes, as I already had so much that I had agreed to donate some to a charity that a friend was working with.  Nevertheless, I found myself with a few mooncakes in addition to a tin of my beloved palmiers...

I had brought some of these custard mooncakes home last year to mom.  This year the pretty mooncakes had a little bit of gold powder on top...

The cross section revealed the issue that mom and I had with these... they just crumbled and fell apart too easily after nuking and cutting - with all that space between the custard filling and the yolk in the middle.  However, mom and I did like the fact that there was actual yolk in the middle... as this delivered better flavor profile.

Now... on top of all these mooncakes, this year I also stopped by Lade Made to try out a very seasonal ice cream flavor...

Mooncake (雙黃蓮蓉月) - yes, ice cream in the traditional flavor of the mooncake!  The ice cream itself tasted exactly like lotus seed paste, while staff sprinkled powdered yolk both on top and in between the two scoops of ice cream to create that "double yolk" effect.  Very yum.

Many thanks to everyone who sent these yummy mooncakes my way!

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