September 2- Three years ago, I arrived in Singapore. Everything was fresh and new: the lingering scent of durians, the inescapable humidity and pastel-colored mooncakes. I’ve seen and tasted mooncakes before. They were baked pastry filled with a dense lotus paste filling and a duck’s egg yolk. Often, they were four fist-sized pieces packed in tin cans. Using a mold, each mooncake has the bakery’s logo.
|Traditional mooncake photo courtesy of Goodwood Park Hotel|
While many Chinese societies exchange mooncakes, trust Singapore to turn it a notch higher into a posh gift. Each year, chefs feverishly try to outdo each other in innovating the mooncake. Capitalizing on the season where business associates, friends, and relatives, exchange this sweet dessert, each bakery strives hard to be the preferred mooncake supplier for this popular corporate gift.
Most of the innovation is done with snowskin mooncakes. Instead of using the baked pastry crust, they use glutinous rice to create a skin similar to Japanese mochi balls. This delicate mooncake needs to be refrigerated, as it will be too soft in this tropical climate. They add pastel colors in pinks, greens, yellows, purples, and pinks. These mooncakes almost look too cute to eat.
|The fruity flavors of Goodwood Park Hotel (photo courtesy of Goodwood Park Hotel)|
Rounding up the innovative mooncakes this year, I found fantastic sources for Snowskin Mooncakes. Goodwood Park went all out this year offering 12 different mooncakes. To celebrate the hotel’s 110th anniversary, they created a 12-cm Almond Beancurd with Longan giant snowskin mooncake. Packed in a fancy gold silk drawstring pouch, this mooncake makes a great gift for only $11. I love how it mimics the almond jelly dessert. This mooncake is light and refreshing, making it a perfect dessert after a heavy feast.
|Refreshing and Light Almond beancurd with Longan Giant Mooncake from Goodwood Park Hotel|
Taking the fruity path to hilt, Goodwood also introduces the Apple Caramel Snowskin mooncake this year. A good gift would be the four-piece box ($42) with all four fruity flavors: Mango with Pomelo in Snowskin, D24 Durian Paste, and Cempedak Paste along with the Apple Caramel variety. As they must be served frozen, Goodwood packs them nicely in a yellow thermal bag to keep it cool. The Mango with Pomelo is the best. Again, it takes inspiration from the Mango Pomelo dessert served in Chinese restaurants. It is like a mango sorbet with bits of pomelo pulp. The mango’s sweetness is perfectly paired with the slightly sour pomelo bits. For the lover of exotic fruit, the Durian and Cempadak will be best. Its powerful flavors though limit your consumption to one or two bites.
|Cute pastel mooncakes from Goodwood Hotel shot on my iphone|
A huge surprise for me was finding great mooncake offerings from an Italian Pasticceria-Confitteria. COVA created a Torta de Luna (Cakes of the Moon) collection for its Singapore clients. This year, they added the Mocha Snowskin and the Sweet Potato Mooncake to its offerings. Sampling a box of four with these two, plus the Rose and Vanila snowskin and Chocolate and Peanut and Chocolate Mooncake. I opened the box of four mooncakes ($38.50) for my friends to sample. One by one we cut slivers of the mooncake. The Peanut and chocolate was the instant favorite. Made with a rich chocolate sponge cake layer, with chocolate feuillentine (chocolate cream mixed with cereal) and peanut butter cream. It was divine! I almost regretted sharing this mooncake with my friends. Ranking second was the Mocha Mooncake. It was made with all things Italians loved: freshly ground coffee bits, mascarpone cheese, Kahlua and Amaretto liqueur. After sampling these two decadent mooncakes, the Sweet Potato and Rose and Vanilla flavors failed to capture our heart the same way.
|COVA, Mooncakes go Italian! (photo courtesy of COVA)|
So, if you’re participating in Mooncake diplomacy this year, go innovative. Try something fruity or oozing with chocolate. After all, this holiday happens, only once in a blue moon! Hurry, these are available only until the mooncake festival on September 22.
GOODWOOD PARK HOTEL
22 Scotts Road
COVA Pasticceria – Confetteria Singapore
290 Orchard Road, #01-20A Paragon, Singapore 238859
(65) 6733 0777