Mid-Autumn Festival: Malaysia & Mooncakes

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a special celebration across Asia, with different customs in different countries. Tibetans “look for the moon” in rivers and lakes near their houses, and a recent tradition in Taiwan involves a barbecue in the midnight moonlight! Like any important Asian occasion, food is front and centre of the festivities; in Malaysia (and several other countries) the humble but historic mooncake is the most popular traditional treat.

Have you ever received a love letter through a mooncake?

Historic? Well, according to popular Chinese folklore, the mooncake played a part in overthrowing the vicious Mongolian empire rule in the 14th century. Ethnic Han rebels hid secret messages in mooncakes and smuggled them to their comrades and countrymen on the eve of one Mid-Autumn Festival, inspiring them to take up arms and take action against their oppressors.

Mooncakes come with bursts of different flavours!

Today, there are many types of mooncakes, with different pastries, flavours, fillings and ingredients; from the traditional Lotus Seed, Sweet Bean or Jujube paste and Five Kernels, to the modern Avocado Custard, with chewy, flaky or tender (or even jelly) crusts. In Malaysia, many prefer to add 100% pure Hunan Lotus Seed to maintain the quality of the cake. In Kuala Lumpur, the most popular types tend to be While Lotus Seed Paste, Salted Duck Egg, and ‘Snow Skins’ (made with glutinous rice and eaten cold). Some still carry messages, although not hidden, but proudly displayed; perhaps delicately decorated with inscriptions telling the tale of Chang’e, or made to look like a mah-jong tile.

There will always be that 'Durian' flavour. Love it or hate it?

Of course, no Malaysian mooncake menu would be complete without the King of Fruits; premium durian mooncakes are very popular, and perfect for slightly healthier indulgence, as these versions contain no preservatives, no cream and no added sugar. Pandan is also a popular choice, and Malaysians are crazy for cream cheese fillings too!

Mooncake Ice-Cream??

More and more types of mooncake are being made to meet modern tastes; sugar-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, even edible fungi fillings. Companies such as Starbucks and Häagen-Dazs are putting their own twist on the tradition, such as indulgent ice-cream sandwiches made to look like mooncakes. If you’re looking for a truly scrumptious snack, check out KL’s finest hotels and fancy restaurants , who offer their own signature snacks in exotic flavours and gorgeous gift boxes.

Classic or contemporary, oven-baked or ice-cream, no Mid-Autumn Festival is complete without the mighty mooncake. Make an effort to try as many flavours as you can (in moderation!) for a true taste of tradition.

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