After their successful online debut last year, the limited-edition mini egg-custard mooncakes from The Peninsula Hong Kong’s Spring Moon restaurant will once again be available to order, from August 4 to 8 only. For UK-based fans of the sought-after cakes, however, there’s an equally tempting offer to be found in London.
For those unfamiliar with the cult round pastries filled with sticky, sweet paste and served with tea after a meal, they are baked for the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month (which this year falls on September 8), when families and groups of friends head outdoors to admire the full moon and give thanks to the unity and good fortune that this feast represents. The cakes, however, gained a notoriety of their own when, in the 14th century, General Zhu Yuan Chang is said to have signalled the start of the Ming uprising by hiding political messages in them and distributing them to supporters.
For those keen to partake in the festival, securing a box of eight mooncakes (HK$485, about £37) from Spring Moon will ensure much praise and appreciation from friends and family. Acclaimed for the perfect pastry – melt-in-the-mouth light yet firm enough to withstand baking (second picture) – Spring Moon includes rich duck eggs in its filling in a secret ancient recipe that delivers a satisfyingly heavy custard. Purchases are limited to 20 boxes per order – while stocks last – and will go live at 8am daily.
But if Hong Kong is an island too far, it is also possible to indulge in this culinary tradition on UK shores. From Monday August 11 to Saturday September 13, Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant HKK will be serving two types of mooncakes as the grand finale of its 15-course tasting menu (from £98 per person), which celebrates this traditional festival. While the pastries are always spherical in shape to represent the moon at its fullest, chef Tong Chee Hwee, executive head chef of the Hakkasan Group, has imbued the age-old cakes with his modern-with-a-twist trademark, and created a sweet red-date mooncake and a savoury and sweet snow-skin mooncake (first picture) with a nutty lotus-seed centre. Delicious.