Friday, October 26, 2007

Jelly Mooncakes

From The Star

Game for jelly mooncakes?

WHILE big commercial mooncake makers introduce new flavours using less-traditional ingredients like cheese, chocolate, raspberry, mango, strawberry, coffee and butter, a baking and cookery teacher in Penang is making them out of jelly.

Amy Tan, who teaches cooking and baking at her home at Jalan Lim Lean Teng, is busy making ‘icy cold’ mooncakes which are free of meat and egg for this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival.

Tan, who has over 20 years of experience in baking these festive delicacies, said her cold mooncakes come in a variety of flavours, including dragon fruit, mango, honeydew, water chestnut, soya bean, red bean, cendol and chocolate.

When cut open, the centre of the mooncake will reveal a fake egg yolk, which is actually made of carrot.

“We use only fruits, beans and vegetables to make these jelly mooncakes.

“The carrot is prepared first to make the yolk. Then the fruit is blended to pre- pare the filling. We later mix them with jelly powder, agar-agar powder and sugar but that depends on the recipe,” she explained.

Festive creations: Tan with her colourful mooncakes and other delights.

The idea of making jelly mooncakes came to her after a friend introduced her to the recipe she had found on the Internet.

“I tried making the mooncakes but they came out too soft and turned watery after a short while. So I made some changes to the recipe,” said the 41-year-old Tan, who has been teaching cooking and baking for over 10 years.

Tan, who learnt mooncake making from her husband’s relative many years ago, said that she would be busy making mooncakes when the festival draws nearer.

“We only use natural ingredients like fruits and beans to make the jelly mooncakes. As they will not last long, we will be making them a week before the festival,” she said.

Tan also has her own Ping Pei (snow skin) mooncakes, which are rather unusual as they come in the shape of small colourful fishes.

“We use glutinous flour, oil and icing sugar to make the snow skin, and pandan and lotus paste for the filling. For the fishes’ eyes, we use chocolate chips.

“These refrigerated ‘mooncakes' are rather special because of their size, shape and bright colours. We also make round ping pei mooncakes that look like the traditional ones, only with many colours,” she said.

Other than these special delights, Tan makes more than 10 other types of mooncakes. She bakes Teowchew Mooncakes, Shanghai Mooncakes, ang kong ngah pneah (literally means doll biscuit) and traditional mooncakes, just to name a few.

She explained that each type was made using different ingredients and has different fillings.

“For example, traditional mooncakes are filled with bean paste and lotus paste,” she said.

The Chinese Mooncake Festival falls on every 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This year, it falls on Sept 25.

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