No celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival can go on without the presence of at least one box of mooncakes.
These delicious little pastries are normally filled with lotus seed or red bean paste and an egg yolk.
They symbolise the moon and are an integral part of the Chinese festival that is often celebrated with children parading lanterns and families gathering for a feast.
Rather unsurprisingly, creativity and culinary imagination have led to innovate takes on the mooncake, thus the myriad varieties you enjoy today.
Are they as delicious as the good-old traditional pastry? Do you scramble for these new variants as soon as they go on sale?
It is all a matter of personal or acquired taste. Here are five unique takes on this autumn treat:
1. Jelly mooncake
Rather popular in Malaysia, jelly mooncakes are literally refreshing mooncakes as they are best served cold right out of the freezer.
It is apt to compare them with agar-agar, for they do taste the same, but jelly mooncakes are normally spiked with juicy fruit bits.
It is not unusual to see unconventional jelly flavours such as coffee, red bean and even cendol!
They are unsurprisingly soft, easy to eat, and even come sugar free for diabetics.
With the recent blistering weather, jelly mooncakes are a good and tasty way to beat the Malaysian heat.
2. Ice-cream mooncake
Yet another cooling mooncake, these have been popping up in ice-cream parlours across the country.
Given that ice-cream cakes are already a thing, it is not that much of a leap that the parlours would jump on the mooncake bandwagon.
There are a few takes on the ice-cream mooncake, with one being wrapped in chewy “snow” skin and another being coated with a thin layer of chocolate.
As they are filled with ice-cream, there is no limit to the flavours you can stuff in the mooncake.
While pretty to look at, it is best to eat them quickly after photographing them for your Instagram account if you do not want to be eating a melted mess.
3. Chocolate mooncake
Among the most memorable Forrest Gump quotes is, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
The world’s love affair with chocolate has been ongoing since cocoa beans were brought back from the New World by the Spanish conquistadors.
Is it that much of a surprise, then, that some brilliant bakers decided to craft mooncakes out of this creamy delight?
While some prefer to use chocolate sponge cake as the outer crust of the mooncake, others forgo the outer crust totally in favour of a piece of chocolate.
Most recipes recommend the use of sweet, normal chocolate, but you must surely wonder what will happen if dark chocolate is used instead. Bitter mooncake, anyone?
4. Cheese mooncake
Malaysians have a romantic affair with cheese, no two ways about it.
It is one thing to have it in buns and tarts, but it is quite another to have it splattered over nasi lemak, satay, char kway teow and bubble teas.
Now add mooncakes to that ever-growing list of food that have been consumed by the love of cheese.
Given the salty nature of cheese, it is certainly an interesting change for the usually sinfully sweet dessert.
The thick paste within is replaced with cream cheese and sometimes, in place of the yolk, jam filling is used as a replacement.
5. Durian mooncake
Like cheese, Malaysians can never stop gorging themselves on durian-filled foodstuff.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that durian mooncakes are now near-permanent features in mooncake catalogues.
Though somewhat pricier than “ordinary” mooncake, they still sell like hot cakes as the local obsession with the king of fruits shows no sign of abating any time soon.
The price of these durian mooncakes vary as some makers use cheap durian while others use higher-grade Musang King.
Expect to pay top dollar for the premium versions of these mooncakes that are touted as preservative and sugar free.
So, which of these five mooncakes will you consider buying back for your family? Whichever mooncake you choose, just remember to share them with your loved ones and to eat in moderation!