Everyone loves a good traditional lotus paste mooncake (although there are some who are on the fence about whether they love it with a salted egg yolk or not). But the best part about the annual Mid-Autumn Festival is the plethora of exotic, exciting and unconventional flavours that are churned out by the most creative of the culinary industry here. For those with a more adventurous palate, the mooncakes available during this period is a gastronomical delight with plenty of surprises, as chefs try and outdo each other with their creations.
We tried some of the more unique offerings — from tea-infused mooncake with a peach centre to ones with Jambon de Bayonne and lavender to those with truffle carbonara and chrysanthemum and winter melon — and give each a rating. Taste is subjective, to be sure, but it’ll give you an indication on which are worth the price tag (and calories).
Known for its exquisite luxury teas packaged into gorgeous tins and boxes, it’s no surprise that the brand’s mooncake offerings are equally elegant and infused with some of its aromatic tea blends. What’s unique is that the chefs create each mooncake by hand in a traditional manner — using wooden moulds, instead of mass production — so every piece is painstakingly crafted with minor “imperfections”, such as a heart that isn’t right smack in the centre of the pastry. This year, the brand is serving four baked and four snowskin mooncakes that come in an elegant Moon Route Tea Mooncake gift box.
What is it: Brown lotus paste is infused with its Chocolate Tea (that comes with real chocolate bits!) and peppered with chocolate chips and crumble. It’s wrapped in a chocolate crust that’s baked to perfection and brushed with a sugar glaze, resulting in a delicious deep brown hue.
Our view: Those looking to watch their weight will be glad to know that it’s not particularly sweet. The chocolate notes are not strong — you get just a hint of it with some chewing, but that is enhanced thanks to the addition of chocolate chips, which adds a nice crunchy texture as well. The crust feels a tad thick so it’s richer and slightly heavier than the other offerings, which means a quarter at a time is probably enough for an after-dinner snack.
What is it: Encased within a baked golden-brown crust is a white lotus paste that’s infused with matcha. At its heart is an Amarena cherry centre.
Our view: This was a surprising winner, given that we’re not particularly huge fans of matcha. The slightly bittersweet and moist matcha paste is perfectly balanced with the slightly tart, jam-like cherry centre. The result is an explosion of complex and layered flavours with every bite. Very addictive and satisfying.
What is it: White snowskin houses a white lotus paste that has fruity and flowery notes, thanks to the infusion of its new Moon Route Tea that’s a green tea blend with citrus and strawberry (available only as part of its set of two mooncakes and not for sale on its own). It’s finished with a lotus cream heart.
Our view: This was another hit. At first glance, the white snowskin looks intimidatingly thick and opaque. But dig into it and you’d find quite the opposite — it’s silky smooth, super thin, slightly powdery, and melts in your mouth. We’re told that the chefs have to work the dough with ice water for more than 20 minutes to get that elastic consistency. The rich and decadent lotus cream has an ice cream-like mouthfeel and is a delightful shot of sweetness in an otherwise mild lotus paste.
Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant, Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza
Cantonese restaurant Wan Hao has prepared 11 mooncake creations that range from timeless classics to unique flavours that are the brainchild of executive Chinese chef Brian Wong. Each piece is also meticulously handcrafted, and both the baked and snowskin varieties have no added preservatives or artificial flavouring. This year, the mooncakes come in a chic two-tier Chinese cabinet with gold coloured knobs and ring holders and floral motifs that exudes a graceful, oriental vibe.
4. Golden Red Date Baked Mooncakes with Pistachio, Jambon de Bayonne, Sesame & Salted Egg (S$238)
What is it: This premium pastry has a light sprinkle of gold dust over its crust and is available only as a premium gift set. A set of four comes in a luxurious two-tier, gold
satin chest box that is accompanied with a bottle of Chateau Rieussec Cru Classé Sauternes, France 2015 (375ml) and sets you back S$238. Each mooncake’s lotus paste incorporates pistachio, Jambon de Bayonne, sesame and salted egg.
Our view: It’s a full-bodied, super rich offering that would appeal to those who are looking for something out of the ordinary. The heady, sweet fragrance of red dates is juxtaposed with the savoury smokiness of the slightly-chewy cured ham, resulting in a unique, layered flavour profile with complex textures that’s enhanced by the crunchy pistachios. Some say this is reminiscent of herbal soup while others say it’s like sticky date pudding. Whatever it is, it’s sure to be a conversation starter.
5. White Lotus Seed Paste Baked Mooncakes with Jambon de Bayonne, Lavender & Pistachio ($72)
What is it: As its name suggests, a silky smooth white lotus paste is infused with lavender and filled with Jambon de Bayonne and crunchy pistachios.
Our view: It’s a nicely balanced product, with the fragrance and sweetness of the lotus paste balancing out the salty and gamey mouthfeel of the ham. We gave it a slightly lower rating because the highlight of this pastry, the lavender, felt a little too faint. Only whispery notes of it could be felt as you finish chewing. But it’s a safe, reliable and tasty option for those who want to try something new but don’t want to venture too far from the usual.
6. Raspberry Yoghurt Snowskin Mooncake with Rosemary Honey Praline (S$70)
What is it: A delicate and velvety pink-hued snowskin is filled with raspberry yoghurt and rosemary honey praline.
Our view: Light and refreshing, this mooncake first hits you with a tangy flavour thanks to its tart raspberry, but the sourish taste is quickly moderated by the sweetness of the honey praline and the white chocolate. It’s a good palate cleanser after a heavy meal, and is highly enjoyable, even if you’re someone who’s not usually hot about raspberries.
7. Coconut Snowskin Mooncake with Champagne Praline (S$72)
What is it: This jade-like snowskin mooncake houses a creamy coconut paste. At its heart is a bittersweet champagne praline core.
Our view: It’s highly enjoyable, thanks to the fragrant and luscious coconut paste that’s elevated with coconut shavings that give added bite. The chefs were not heavy-handed with the coconut flavours so it’s not overpowering. In fact, it seems quite simple and familiar, if not for the bittersweet champagne praline does pack quite an alcoholic punch.
Janice Wong’s offering this year is a unique twist to the Chinese festival snack. Her limited-edition Mooncake Box Set (S$65) showcases Japanese flavoured mooncakes, with each piece celebrating key ingredients from nine different prefectures in Japan. Housed in a pretty blue box, the nine snowskin mooncakes have distinctive and unique ingredients that were personally sourced by Janice herself, who travelled to each prefecture to get them. They include kinako (roasted soy flour) from Hokkaido, ume (Asian plum) from Wakayama, hojicha (roasted Japanese green tea) from Kyoto and chestnut from Kumamoto.
8. Ume from Wakayama
Our view: If you want something that is completely out of the ordinary and different from the usual mouthfeel, this would be it. Boasting complex flavours and a light aftertaste of salty preserved plum that is not too overpowering, it’s a pleasant and light option for an after dinner treat.
9. Kinako from Hokkaido
Our view: With a very buttery, powdery texture and a toasted aftertaste, this mooncake flavour is reminiscent of a mung bean ang ku kueh. It’s not too sweet, but we felt that the flavours weren’t complex enough. If you’re not a fan of soy products, this won’t be a popular choice with you.
10. Sweet Potato from Tokushima
Our view: This one is a winner, thanks to its authentic sweet potato flavour that has no lingering artificial aftertaste. In fact, it feels like you’re eating mashed sweet potato. Earthy, sweet and comforting, this would be a delight to both the young and old.
Available for pre-order online at www.janicewong.online. Orders reaching S$300 and above will receive free delivery.
Shang Palace, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore
Shang Palace’s mooncake offerings this year come in pretty metal floral tins — tiffany blue for its new dual-flavour Mini Snowskin Mooncakes and crimson for its limited edition Hong Kong-style Mini Baked Custard with Bird’s Nest. Both tins sport delicately placed sweet blossoms on the lids, and make a great gift for both friends/family and business associates. There’s also the Shang Palace Four Treasures which includes, apart from the usual single/double yolks in lotus paste, a Mixed Nuts with Chicken Ham. These are presented in a gorgeous case covered in fine silk-satin of a rich red hue, with embroidered floral patterns, two drawers and a mirror.
11. Kaya Truffle Snowskin Mooncakes (Four pieces, part of a box of eight Mini Snowskin Mooncakes, $80)
What is it: The highlight of this mooncake is the house-made kaya, made fresh in-house with coconut, gula melaka, and eggs. The silky smooth, not-too-sweet kaya paste is hidden within a delicate white chocolate shell that’s nestled within a reduced-sugar white lotus paste.
Our view: We give this flavour two thumbs up for its creativity, not to mention its taste. Instead of infusing the kaya flavour within the lotus paste — and running the risk of it getting lost — the chefs chose to “reveal” it by infusing it within a white chocolate case. The result: A satisfying kick as you bite into the shell and feel the rush of oozing kaya flowing into your mouth. The burst of flavour, not to mention the various textures blending in together, makes this one of the more refreshing ones we’ve tasted so far.
12. Yuzu Sake Truffle Snowskin Mooncakes (Four pieces, part of a box of eight Mini Snowskin Mooncakes, $80)
What is it: A refreshing, citrusy flavour thanks to the use of fresh yuzu juice and zest. Also within the pale yellow mooncake is a subtly sweet sake and white chocolate shell snuggled in a white lotus paste.
Our view: The sake flavour is not tremendously strong (unfortunately for alcohol lovers) but we love the palatable and zesty mouthfeel of yuzu that balanced out the slightly sweet lotus paste and white chocolate. Not as eventful as its kaya counterpart, but still a pleasant mooncake to snack on.
Available from July 9 to Sept 13, at lobby level, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, 22 Orange Grove Road, Singapore 258350. Call 6213 4398/6213 4473 or email email@example.com to order.
Antoinette is known for its pretty packaging and even prettier pastries, so it’s no surprise its mooncakes are the same. There are three traditional baked favourites on offer: The Salted Yolk Hae Bee Hiam, Single Yolk and Double Yolk, concealed in a charming pastel pink box that sports its iconic logo in the centre surrounded by gorgeous florals. There is also an assortment of mini snowskin mooncakes with four flavours Salted Yolk Truffle, Crunchy Chocolate Pearls, Ondeh Ondeh and the new Peach Truffle.
13. Salted Yolk Hae Bee Hiam (S$60+ per box of four)
What is it: A sweet, spicy and savoury pastry with a housemade hae bee hiam and salted egg centre, encased within a smooth low-sugar white lotus paste with pumpkin seeds.
Our view: A savoury mooncake with the taste of spicy dried shrimp? We have to admit, we were apprehensive when we had to try it. Surprise surprise, this turned out to be very palatable. Kudos to the chef: The hae bee hiam was deftly infused into the salted egg yolk and was so well-balanced with the sweet lotus paste and salty powdery yolk that you get just a hint of hae bee hiam with every bite. But it’s aromatic and spicy enough for you to want to reach for another piece. This is a unique flavour done right.
Available at 30 Penhas Road, Singapore 208188, and #01-28, Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore 039596. Call 6293 3121 or visit www.antoinette.com.sg/mooncake2019 to order.
The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore will be launching its first-ever range of mooncakes crafted by Demon Chef Alvin Leung this Mid-Autumn Festival. His enticing debut range includes classics like the white lotus seed paste with egg yolk as well as modern renditions like American fig for a celebration to remember. The signature offering this year is the Mini Theatre Combo set, a variety pack beautifully inspired by the history, colour and artistry of the Capitol Theatre after which it is named. It promises to please the lips, eyes and hearts of anyone receiving it with four pieces of Caramel Mixed Nuts mooncakes and four Mini Golden Corn mooncake.
14. Mini Golden Corn Mooncakes (S$64 per box of eight pieces)
What is it: Smooth, sweet corn paste encased within a lovely, traditional baked skin.
Our view: Unique and indulgent, this mini mooncake is one to remember. Instead of the traditional lotus paste, sweet corn paste takes its place, giving this mooncake a subtle yet interesting twist. The thick, tender pastry skin that envelops the sweet, dense filling tastes as delicious as its insides.
Available at 15 Stamford by Alvin Leung, The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, 15 Stamford Road,Singapore 178906. Call 6715 6871 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to order.
Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with Mitzo’s exquisite snow skin mooncakes. This year’s line-up sees four different flavours made with the freshest of ingredients. The classic Mini Snow-Skin Mooncake with Salted Egg & Crystal Jade Lotus Paste is the perfect choice for those who prefer the traditional lotus paste filling. While the elegant Mini Snow-Skin Mooncake with Champagne, Melon Seeds and White Lotus Paste is a timeless choice, with a blend of melon seeds and sweet white lotus paste, mixed with champagne for an indulgent treat.
15. Mini Snow-Skin Mooncake with Creamy Durian (S$80 for a box of 8)
What is it: Durian lovers can rejoice with this perennial Singaporean favourite. The soft and delicate skin wraps around the decadent and flavourful durian filling that melts beautifully in the mouth.
Our view: We are in love with this modern twist to the traditional mooncake. We guarantee that even the most jaded gastronome will be thrilled with this creation; abundant with sweet, creamy durian flesh that is not too cloying.
Avaliable at Mitzo, Grand Park Orchard, Level 4, 270 Orchard Road, Singapore 238857. Call 6603 8855 or visit http://mitzo.sg/ to order.