China’s Modern Mooncakes Published Sep 9, 2011 8:00 AM Travel SHARE A selection of mooncake varieties from contemporary China. Featured in: China’s Modern Mooncakes » In the last few years, American companies have begun to make mooncakes, the sweets that are a staple of the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival. Josh Wand Traditionally, mooncakes are made from three kinds of crust – chewy, flakey, or “tender” – that are usually shortened with lard, and filled with sweet pastes made from lotus seeds, sweet beans like azuki or mung beans, jujubes or other dried fruits, or chopped nuts. Josh Wand Some mooncakes contain a salted duck egg yolk, which symbolizes the full moon. The treats are often served at nighttime parties, when friends and family gather to look at the harvest moon. The most common style of mooncake is made using wooden molds with decorations carved into them. Popular decorations include the symbols for fortune, harmony, or longevity, or images of flowers. Another popular theme shows two mythological figures who live on the moon: a woman named Chang’e, who ate a pill that gave her immortality, and a rabbit, whose shape you can see in the full moon’s shadows. Josh Wand These days, very few people make mooncakes at home, preferring to buy them from bakeries, shops, or restaurants. As mooncakes are generally given as gifts, many come in brightly decorated display boxes. Josh Wand More economical versions of mooncakes are sold individually, often wrapped simply in printed paper. Josh Wand In recent years, American chains have begun making their own versions of mooncakes. Starbucks offers sets of mooncakes with the company’s logo on them in decidedly Western flavors like “espresso coffee cheese and orange” and “green tea toffee cheese”. Josh Wand Perhaps the most popular have been Haagen Dazs’ chocolate-covered ice cream varieties, which sell for as much as $125 for a gift box of six and are especially popular among the young, upwardly mobile residents of Shanghai and Beijing. Josh Wand MORE TO READ RELATED 9 Amazing American LGBTQ Bars, Clubs, and Restaurants The pandemic walloped queer-owned businesses the country over, but those that persevered are roaring back—just in time for Pride Month. READ NOW RELATED Reviving the Lost Art of Ireland’s Small Batch Whiskey Bonding Traditions Craft distillers and blenders are reimagining their island’s famed spirit. RELATED How Learning to Butcher in France Made Me Rediscover Myself Meat and mentorship with the pioneer of seed-to-sausage charcuterie.