Hubert Burda Media

5 Modern Mooncakes And 5 More Traditional Ones

To the moon and back: Love it or loathe it, you have to have it.

Excuse the irony, but it’s the dawn of mooncake season. With the Mid-Autumn Festival less than a month away, there’ll be plenty of these sweet-savoury moon-shaped morsels to go around the Earth. Modern mooncakes have also seen an uprising in recent years, with chefs such as Andy Foo of Grand Hyatt Singapore, and Nicky Ng of Mitzo, continuing to raise the ante in creativity.

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But while Ng’s creations of avant-garde mille-feuille-styled mooncakes still encase long-lived recipes of sweet paste balanced with savoury egg yolk, the modern mooncakes on offer around town, including the ones available at Grand Hyatt Singapore’s mezza9, are refreshing treats with 21st century flavours that incorporate trendy ingredients. You’ll taste superfoods such as acai berry and Trigona honey; quality tea and rye whiskey too — and oh boy, there’s also truffle oil. But if you happen to be a manic purist, not to worry: Most restaurants continue to sell the orthodox kinds over the counter.

Marina Bay Sands’ traditional and modern mooncakes
Marina Bay Sands’ modern and traditional mooncake flavours

Foo shares, “While snowskin mooncakes have given pastry chefs the opportunity to be bold and creative with our flavours, traditional mooncakes will always be the centrepiece of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Each mooncake variant requires different finishing — refreshing flavours for snowskin mooncakes and the perfect balance of sweetness and saltiness for traditional mooncakes. Most importantly, all mooncakes must be handmade with the highest quality ingredients to ensure we preserve the authentic taste and texture, which is why we have been making mooncakes by hand at Grand Hyatt Singapore for almost 20 years.”

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Even overseas chefs like Melissa Chou, who’s presided over pastries at San Francisco, have lent their confectionary competencies to local establishments. Chou worked closely with The St. Regis Singapore’s Yan Ting’s pastry and dim sum chef Vanessa Cai to create masterfully melded new flavours. And while the Cali girl says she likes traditional mooncakes, it’s all love for the modern ones. “They’re light and I love the soft chewy texture of the snowskins, and the possibilities for fillings are endless and delicious.”

But whether you are the die-hard, filling-must-be-lotus, green bean-, or yam-paste-type of mooncake-eater, or you’re someone who look forward to more exotic combinations, we list the best in mooncake-making this year — an equal mix of modern and traditional ones offered by some of Singapore’s best restaurants and chefs.

1.
Modern, Moreish: Grand Hyatt Singapore's acai berry truffle mooncake
1.
Modern, Moreish: Grand Hyatt Singapore's acai berry truffle mooncake

Dubbed “purple gold”, acai is known for its antioxidant properties. This trendy Amazonian berry is used in this snowskin mooncake and is infused with crème de cassis to balance its rich, almost-chocolaty flavour with the sweetness of the blackcurrant liqueur — yes, there’s a bit of booze with each bite.

2.
Traditional Taste: Marina Bay Sands' multigrain mooncake
2.
Traditional Taste: Marina Bay Sands' multigrain mooncake

Nut-filled mooncake is one of the oldest and most famous varieties. But instead of the typical high-calorie peanut and almond, Marina Bay Sands’ more nutritious rendition comes with lotus and melon seeds, pepita and sunflower kernels, rolled oats, black sesame and walnuts. This high fibre treat retains the traditional flavours and crunch with apparently 30 percent less sugar than the average mooncake.

3.
Modern Mixture: Regent Singapore's barrel-aged Sazerac 6-year-old rye with coffee and chocolate mooncake
3.
Modern Mixture: Regent Singapore's barrel-aged Sazerac 6-year-old rye with coffee and chocolate mooncake

What happens when a dim sum chef partners with a bar manager? Mid-Autumn Festival treats that’s worth ordering another round. Summer Palace’s Chef Leong Kwok Sing and Philip Bischoff of Asia’s Best Bar, Manhattan, has collaborated to create snowskin mooncakes infused with amber-gold goodness of American whiskies. Try the barrel-aged rye snowskin rendition with coffee and chocolate paste. Oily and nutty notes play on the palate, delivering sweet and sharp flavours.

4.
Traditional, Timeless: Sofitel Singapore City Centre's 'The Traditional' from its Les Fleurs de Lumiére Mooncake Collection
4.
Traditional, Timeless: Sofitel Singapore City Centre's 'The Traditional' from its Les Fleurs de Lumiére Mooncake Collection

In the hotel’s inaugural mooncake collection, they chose to include the reliable, unfussy and classic pairing of white lotus paste with savoury salted egg yolk. However, there’s also a very contemporary creation, inspired by quintessential French luxury, in the box of four: Read #5 to find out.

5.
Modern Madness: Sofitel Singapore City Centre's 'The Luxe' from its Les Fleurs de Lumiére Mooncake Collection
5.
Modern Madness: Sofitel Singapore City Centre's 'The Luxe' from its Les Fleurs de Lumiére Mooncake Collection

Possible the most savoury mooncake on the market at the moment is Sofitel Singapore City Centre’s piece de resistance: ‘The Luxe’. There’s foie gras, assorted nuts and truffle oil, all housed in a baked shiny shell. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

6.
Traditional, Textural: FengShui Inn's 'Mid-Autumn Star'
6.
Traditional, Textural: FengShui Inn's 'Mid-Autumn Star'

An excellent execution by Chef Li Kwok Kwong of Fengshui Inn, who makes one of the best Cantonese style mooncakes with silky white lotus paste, that’s now blended with custard and American ginseng, lifting the paste with a subtle fragrance. For some textural contrast, chocolate pearls were also added.

7.
Modern Milestone: Man Fu Yuan's tea-infused snowskin collection
7.
Modern Milestone: Man Fu Yuan's tea-infused snowskin collection

Mooncakes are commonly downed with hot tea but InterContinental Singapore’s Man Fu Yuan may well eliminate this tradition with the introduction of its Snowskin Mooncake: Tea Collection. The botanical theme continues by incorporating the signature rose-shaped mooncake moulds, introduced last year, which adds a broader sense of novelty. Tea-type fillings range from osmanthus and matcha to more Western flavours of Earl Grey.

8.
Traditional, Territorial: Cherry Garden's pandan with red bean and melon seeds mooncake
8.
Traditional, Territorial: Cherry Garden's pandan with red bean and melon seeds mooncake

Honouring Singapore’s national cake, Cherry Garden at Mandarin Oriental Singapore presents the pandan mooncake, a local favourite. Its rendition exudes a golden baked exterior and a red bean centre studded with melon seeds for some familiar crunch and texture.

9.
Modern à la Mode: Yan Ting's black sesame paste with salted peanut truffle mooncake
9.
Modern à la Mode: Yan Ting's black sesame paste with salted peanut truffle mooncake

Yan Ting has collaborated with award-winning San Francisco pâtissier Melissa Chou of Michelin-starred Mister Jiu’s to create four new snowskin sensations. The upper crust is  the one that comes with a gold-tinged black sesame skin that wraps around some sweet black sesame paste, that is cleverly balanced with the saltiness of a white chocolate-encased peanut truffle core.

10.
Traditional (With A Twist): Mitzo's mille-feuille-styled mooncakes
10.
Traditional (With A Twist): Mitzo's mille-feuille-styled mooncakes

Mitzo departs from the usual doughy sweet treats to take on a lighter exterior: A spiral, flaky, and buttery crust that is airy and crispy. Each mooncake is filled with the typical smooth yam paste balanced with a savoury salted egg. For added texture, the restaurant’s head chef Nicky Ng incorporates crushed pistachios nuts for some needed crunch.

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