Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mooncakes for Lunar New Year

I made these mooncakes for the class I taught at my boys' elementary school last trimester. We were reading dragon legends from around the world, focusing on a single country per week. I would read the legend, teach a little history or geography about the country, coordinate a craft, and make a snack.  For our China session, these were perfect.  And I thought they would make a great Chinese Lunar New Year treat, so if I have some free time tonight, I'll dig out mooncake mold.

There is this story about the moon-cake. Chinese leaders were unhappy being ruled by Mongolians, so they decided to use the Moon Festival to coordinate a rebellion without being discovered. The leaders of the rebellion ordered special cakes and backed each moon cake with a message, outlining of the attack. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government.

Ingredients
Filling:
• 1 pound red azuki beans
• water
• 3/4 cup butter or oil
• 1-3/4 cups sugar


Water-Shortening Dough:
• 2 cups flour
• 5 tablespoons butter
• 10 tablespoons water

Flaky Dough:
• 1 cup flour
• 5 tablespoons butter


Preparation:
Filling Instructions: Soak red beans in water to cover 2 hours. Drain and discard the water. Cover with 8 cups fresh water and bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat 1-1/2 hours or until skins open. Strain the beans and discard the skins. Place the strained beans in several layers of cheesecloth and squeeze out any excess water. Place in a saucepan with the butter or oil and the sugar. Cook, stirring continuously, until almost all the moisture has evaporated. Let cool.


Dough Instructions: You will need 2 cups of filling for the mooncakes. Divide this into 20 portions and shape into balls. Mix ingredients for the water-shortening dough and the flaky dough separately until smooth. Divide each dough into 20 equal portions. Wrap one portion of flaky dough inside each portion of water-shortening dough. Roll out each piece of dough, then fold in thirds to form three layers. Roll out again, and once more fold in thirds to form three layers. Flatten each piece of dough with the palm of your hand to form a 3" circle. Place one portion of filling in the center. Gather the edges to enclose the filling and pinch to seal. Place the filled packet in the mold, gently pressing to fit. Invert and remove the mold. Repeat process for remaining mooncakes. Arrange mooncakes on a baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool before serving.

4 comments:

  1. Yum! I LOVE moon cakes. Thanks for sharing a great recipe for them! Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

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  2. @Miriam, me too! I didn't get a chance to make them last night. There's always tonight.

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  3. Wish I could get up the nerve to make my own mooncakes like you. I hope you'll come by and link this up to Sweets for a Saturday #3.

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  4. My step mother is half Vietnamese and always brings these back from Chinatown when she goes to the big city. Now I'll be able to make her some...or at least give her the recipe!

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