A Tasty Recipe for Revolution

By Marc Checkley
Updated: 2007-09-25 11:03

Traditionally mooncakes are round, symbolizing the full moon and evoke part of the old Chinese saying "pleasant flowers and round moon", used to signify family togetherness and happiness. Despite its popularity, the cakes rate badly when it comes to health, usually being high in cholesterol, fat and sugar content. For many mooncake lovers the adage "its only once a year", seems to be their mantra.

Like Easter eggs, today's mooncakes are big business. The festival has seen exponential growth over the last several years as people, other than the Chinese, acquire a taste for this ancient pastry. In antiquity the cakes were filled with lotus seed or red bean paste with salted egg yolk - the most impressive have four yolks. Today's adaptations come in many new forms such as chocolate fudge, dried fruit, tiramisu or ice cream and even tiny flakes of gold. There are also mini-mooncakes for those who don't want to add a notch or three to their belt size during the festival.

"Every year we develop new mooncakes," says Leung. "This year we're introducing the new snowy crunchy series, green bean paste mixed together with crispy chocolate."

It's not just food specialists who have made mooncakes an annual fixture on their menus. Asia's luxury hotels have also garnered a reputation while breathing new life into the age-old festival. For the first time The Peninsula Beijing is bringing the world-renowned recipe from its Hong Kong namesake north to the capital.  

The Peninsula Hotel's famous egg custard mooncakes make their debut in Beijing this year. Courtesy of The Peninsula Beijing.

Based on an exclusive concoction, the light mini egg custard mooncake is a contemporary take on the traditional filling.

"The Peninsula Hong Kong invented the egg custard mooncake in 1986," explains Cecilia Lui of The Peninsula Beijing. "It also made the cakes smaller and lighter than the traditional kind. These bite-size mooncakes are following the health conscious trend while making sure the unique taste comes through.

Ms Lui, herself a mooncake fan, says where flavour is an important factor for Hong Kong Chinese, presentation is a main attraction for those in Beijing.

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