Clarice Lam shares three festive moon cakes for the celebration.
After Chinese New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival or the Moon Cake Festival, is the second most important holiday in Chinese culture and is celebrated by many Asian countries.
The celebration centers on the day when the moon is fuller and brightest, and encourages family reunions, parties, lights, and lanterns. But the most symbolic food of the festivities are moon cakes.
Pastry chef Clarice Lam, whose family is Cantonese and originally from Hong Kong, handcrafted special versions of the embossed sweets with intricate designs that are traditionally made in two styles.
“Making moon cakes is a very laborious process. Due to the special molds, I can only make one at a time,” Lam told “Good Morning America” of the desserts. “My snow skin dough is made from various rice flours, wheat starch, milk, sugar and soybean oil. It is then steamed and kneaded by hand.”
The baked variety, she explained, has a sort of sweet crust while the snow skin version is similar to sweet, frozen mochi rice dough. Both are usually filled with various seed pastes and sometimes a whole duck egg yolk salted to represent the moon.
“My sweet baked dough is made with a lot of honey, so it has a good crunch and a good chew,” she said.
Lam has created three specialty flavors at his restaurant Kimika in collaboration with his sister restaurant, Lotus + Cleaver.
Her first snow skin moon cake flavor is made with coconut mochi butter cake, peanuts and crispy chicken skin.
The other snow skin moon cake is filled with mascarpone cream and a strawberry in the center.
Finally, her traditional oven-baked moon cake features a fig wrapped in marzipan.
“Because the process is labor intensive, most people will buy boxes of moon cakes from the Asian market,” Lam said. “Not many people do it on their own. Even my mom never did. I tried to create something different using different flavors that you will never find in a store that also match Kimika.”