October 3, 2009

Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with Mooncakes in NYC

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!  Today, also known as the Moon Festival, is one of the most important festivals in the Chinese calendar.  It celebrates the end of the farmers' summer harvest season and brings friends and family together.

Now that we're in New York City (away from Grandma who cooked many dishes and brought the family together) and trying to celebrate both of our cultures, we decided to brave the lines at Tai Pan Bakery to buy a few (mini) mooncakes.

The traditional mooncake from childhood:  Filled with a sweet lotus seed paste, this cake is very dense.  Our family would cut them into wedges and eat them with tea.

We're amazed by all of the new forms of mooncakes, including this popular one:  Snowskin mooncakes.  The white shell is gummy, whereas the original skin is crumbier.  These are also not baked, but chilled.
Inside is filled with white lotus-seed paste and salty duck egg yolk.  The egg yolk represents the full moon against the night sky of the paste.
Taro Mooncake:  Like the snowskin mooncake, the taro mooncake is also soft on the outside. 
However, the inside of this one is filled with a taro yam paste as opposed to lotus-seed paste. 

Strawberry Mooncake:  We got the last one!  This has a wonderful berry frangrance to it.

Inside was filled with a strawberry-flavored bean paste.

 Sesame Mooncake:  Using black sesame as the skin, this mooncake tasted nuttier.

It also contained a dramatic dark bean paste interior (as black as the night sky).

For the 6 mini mooncakes above, we spent $15.50.  For boxes of regular-sized mooncakes, the prices are usually around $20-$30, but can exceed $100.  Maybe next year we'll buy the mold and make these ourselves!

Tai Pan Bakery is located at 194 Canal St (at Mott St) in NYC.

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