I'm always making my mooncakes last minute! Even though I knew this year the Mid-Autumn Festival was early, it's now just 3 days before September 21st! But better late than never. I only ever tried making mooncakes for the first time last year (check out my Ferrero Rocher brownie mooncakes). So, this year, I continued my non-traditional experiments with them and created maple nut mooncakes! A traditional mooncake skin with a mixed nut maple cinnamon filling. Perfect for fall weather, although it's still blazing hot right now in Hong Kong.
Mooncake making essentials
- A mooncake mold! I got mine at my local bake shop but you can definitely find them online. Like these. There are lots of pretty patterns to choose from. The one I used is a circular mini mooncake mold that's about 63g.
- Golden syrup. It's a type of inverted sugar syrup (similar to maple and honey) that helps keep the mooncake skin soft and prevents it from drying out too much. It's deeply golden brown and very sticky. I used Lyle's golden syrup, but you could also make your own, like this recipe from Omnivore's Cookbook. I've read you can also replace the golden syrup with honey but I haven't tried it myself.
- Lye water 枧水. This is an ingredient I've never used before and only found at my local bake shop since we're right in the middle of mooncake season. Lye water is an alkaline water that apparently helps balance out the acidity of the golden syrup and also helps give the mooncake skin its distinctive color. It might not be easy to find and I'm not sure if it can be bought online, so it can be skipped, especially if you are using honey instead of golden syrup.
Maple nut filling
Typically mooncakes are filled with lotus paste, salted egg yolk or the always popular custard lava. But there's also the Five Nuts Mooncake (五仁月餅) which is filled with 5 kinds of nuts, seeds and ham! Yes, ham. It's more of a savory mooncake but I wanted to keep mine sweet so there's definitely no meat in these.
My nuts were a mix of cashews, walnuts, macadamias and pistachios. So, only four but you can create your own mix and add five or however many kinds you want, as long as its roughly 200g (1 1/2 cups) of nuts and/or seeds.
Then I added maple syrup and cinnamon. Two of my favorite flavors for fall. You could swap the maple syrup for honey and totally omit the cinnamon if you prefer. Cinnamon is a such a great spice I think you'd miss out on not having it, so I highly recommend it.
Roll out the mooncake dough and the filling
mooncake dough and fillings in the middle
wrap the mooncake dough around the filling
- You can make your mooncake dough in advance, it can stay in the fridge for up to a day!
- Roast your nuts! Nuts and seeds are always more flavorful and aromatic when roasted. So, if the ones you have are totally raw, pop them in the oven for a bit before making the filling.
- The filling is super sticky, so it can be helpful to wear gloves when rolling it.
- Don't take too much time rolling out your mooncake dough and adding the filling. If left out too long, the dough can dry out and become crumbly.
- Brush your mooncakes with egg wash for that iconic lovely golden color. Brush gently so not to ruin the beautiful mooncake pattern on top!
I'm still perfecting my mooncake game, so mine aren't always the most beautiful but being able to give family and friends homemade mooncakes is something special! These one's are quite simple and only require a few ingredients, at least compared to the the Ferrero Rocher brownie ones. Nutty, warm, spiced and sweet! I hope you enjoy these Maple Nut Mooncakes.
Maple Nut Mooncakes
- 50-63g Mooncake mold
Traditional mooncake dough:
- 120 g (1 cup) cake flour, or all-purpose flour
- 80 g (¼ cup) golden syrup
- 20 g (2 tablespoons) vegetable oil
- 5 g (½ teaspoon) lye water
Maple nut filling
- Maple nut filling
- 200 g (1 1/2 cups) mixed nuts, preferably roasted
- 120 g (1/2 cup) maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Egg wash
- 1 egg
- splash of water
Make the mooncake dough:
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together the golden syrup, lye water and vegetable oil. They won't completely combine but do your best.
- Add your flour and stir until you get a thick dough. Once all the flour has been incorporated, knead the dough for a bit until it comes together in a smooth, but slightly sticky mass.
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or even overnight.
Make the maple nut filling:
- While the dough is resting, make your filling. Add the nuts, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt into a food processor. Blend for a few seconds until it becomes a sticky course mixture.
- The filling should be able to hold together on its own, if it seems too dry add a bit more maple syrup.
- Divide the filling into 12 - it's quite sticky! Your filling should weigh about 326g, so each portion should be about 27g each. You can use a tablespoon to measure it out if you don't want to weigh it. Roll into balls and set aside until ready to prepare the mooncakes.
Prepare the mooncakes:
- Preheat your oven to 175°C (350°F) and prepare a baking tray with parchment or a silpat baking mat.
- Divide your mooncake dough into 12 pieces. Your dough should weigh roughly 216g, so each piece should weigh about 18g.
- Dust a work surface, rolling pin and mooncake mold with flour.
- Using your rolling pin, roll out one piece of your mooncake dough to a rough 3 ½ inch circle.
- Place your maple nut ball in the center and wrap the mooncake dough around it. Pinch the edges to seal the filling inside. It might not completely cover the filling at first but keep pressing and pushing the dough. The mooncake dough is fragile, so be gentle. Roll the mooncake ball around in your hands to form an even shape. Lightly dust with flour. Repeat with the rest of your dough and filling.
- Now, take your flour-dusted mooncake mold and put your mooncake ball inside. Turn it upright onto your baking tray and press the plunger down with medium pressure to impress the pattern into the mooncake skin. Lift the mold up while simultaneously pushing down on the plunger to release the mooncake. Repeat with the rest until you have 12 mooncakes ready to be baked!
Bake the mooncakes
- Put your mooncakes into your preheated oven and bake for 8 minutes.
- While they're baking, make an egg wash by combining one egg with a splash of water.
- Remove the mooncakes from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. It's important to do this so the mooncake skin can harden slightly before you apply the egg wash.
- Using a pastry brush, gently brush the egg wash over the tops and sides of the mooncakes. Be careful not to ruin the pattern on the top.
- Put the mooncakes back into the oven for another 10-12 minutes, or until they're a nice golden brown.
- Let them cool completely. You can serve them the same day or store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. Waiting a few days is the traditional way because the oil in the mooncake dough will start to release, making a shiny, soft and moist outer skin.