Mmmmmmm…… Magic Mooncake Madness
Words by Craig J Selby
Photos by The Yum List (Monica Tindall)
To be honest, the mooncakes were an amazingly pleasant surprise. I headed to Prince Hotel and Residence to sample their famed dim sum lunch, and our host insisted that in addition to a scrumptious lunch, we sample an array of their awesome mooncakes too.
I have been fascinated with mooncakes for years – but my exposure was always limited. Today, was a learning curve, and a delicious one at that. I had so often in the past enjoyed the traditional mooncakes with preserved egg inside – a delicate light brown pastry on the outside, intricately carved with beautiful traditional-looking patterns, and filled to the max with lotus paste, and if I was lucky, a double-yolk egg. Divine mooncakes in my old world.
|Baked Moon Cakes|
Mooncakes are a central food to the Mid Autumn Festival, and as such are typically enjoyed with family and friends. It was apt that I was with friends, both new and old, as we ventured our taste buds into some pretty exciting new taste worlds.
I learnt mooncakes come in both traditional and modern formats – the traditional being the ones I described earlier. These mooncakes are usually heavier, bigger even, and somewhat denser in texture – but nonetheless, extremely tasty, and come in a huge variety of flavouts. Modern mooncakes on the other hand, are lighter, more colourful with a ‘snow skin’ pastry, and a little smaller. The constant, the attention to detail in the carving, and of course, the “wow factor” in the flavour.
We sampled nine, yes nine, mooncakes – five traditional and four modern. Each unique in its own right; each exhibiting flavours to spark memories of days gone by or the good things in life. I have always enjoyed the traditional mooncakes, but todays experience has certainly given me new perspective.
The snow skin mooncakes had an assortment of appetising flavours – chocolate whiskey. Passionfruit, pandan lotus paste, and mung bean paste. The chocolate whiskey was like a thick and creamy chocolate fudge – defined flavour that was incredibly indulgent. Each bite enabled an enjoyment of both the chocolate and whiskey elements – the chocolate bringing me back to younger days, the whiskey to more recent times.
Juxtaposed against this denser and darker filling was the passion fruit cheesecake version. Highly aromatic, the wafts of passion fruit surrounded us as we bit into this variety. The passion fruit flavour, as original as eating fresh passion fruit just plucked from a bush – a surprisingly different experience to the previous mooncake – but hands-down, my favourite. I just wish I could buy a container of the passion fruit cheesecake, and serve it up for dessert every night. The closest I came – I bought a few back to share with my team at the office – sadly, but don’t tell them, I ate them all before they reached the office door. Sorry guys. Ssssh.
Both the red bean and the pandan lotus paste versions were delicious also, and gave a modern twist to two flavours that I am accustomed to with Chinese cuisine.
The five traditional mooncakes were certainly not ordinary. Love and care has gone into their flavour construction and their physical preparation. Although “traditional” in outlook, they also boasted flavours that had a twist – all in the aim of encouraging global citizens to sample these. My favourite was the nuts, rum and raisin version, which was a compromise between western flavours and traditional Chinese sensibilities. Crunchy texture and strong flavour made this a winner in my book. It reminded me almost of a slice of pecan pie – a sublime interpretation of great familiar flavours encased in a traditional Chinese package. Good work Chef.
They also had one of my usual favourites, white lotus paste with single yolk egg. This is what I remember from the first time eating mooncakes. Yummn, authentic, and very palatable. I love how the outer skin has just a hint of flakiness to it, crumbling a little with each bite, but not overwhelming the mooncake with unnecessary flavour.
A little scarier for me was the durian lotus paste – yes, not a durian fan here, but my friends told me it was awesome. I shall take their word on that matter. Two other flavours, pandan paste and melon seed, along with red bean paste, rounded out the selection nicely.
So, I did learn a lesson. Nine mooncakes are tough to eat in one sitting, but 2-3 are quite realistic. I love the snow skin mooncakes, and highly recommend for anyone to try these – certainly the passion fruit version, and the chocolate whiskey. Regardless of which direction your taste buds steer you in, you are certain to appreciate the care that these mooncakes have been prepared with, and love the flavour.
So, I don’t know what the correct salutation is, but Happy Mid Autumn Festival, and even Happier Mooncake Eating!
Prince Hotel and Residence Kuala Lumpur
Prince Hotel and Residence Kuala Lumpur
50450 Kuala Lumpur
+603 2170 8673