FIVE-TREASURE MOON CAKES
makes20 moon cakes
During the Harvest Moon Festival, Chinese bakery shelves are loaded with moon cakes — salty with a meat or vegetable filling, or sweet with red bean date pastes or candied fruits. I’ve developed an easy filling that’s a mixture of apricot jam, raisins, dates, and coconut. I recommend using a moon cake mold (see note *), but you may improvise by hand-shaping the cookies into circles and drawing a simple design on top.
4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dried milk powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup apricot preserves (one 12-ounce jar)
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
3/4 cup raisins
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons water
- To make the crust, sift together the flour, dried milk powder, and salt. Break the eggs into a mixing bowl, add the sugar, and beat vigorously until the mixture “ribbons” off the beaters, about 5 minutes. Add the melted butter, vanilla extract, and the sifted, dry ingredients to the egg mixture, folding after each addition. Mix to a rough dough, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly to a smooth dough. Form the dough into a long, snake-like roll and cut into 20 pieces.
- Mix together the ingredients of the filling and stir to combine evenly. Divide into 20 portions.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Using your fingers, press each dough piece into a 3-inch circle with the edges thinner and the center thicker. Place a portion of filling in the center, gather up the edges of the dough to enclose the filling and pinch to seal. Roll the cake into a ball and flatten it to a 3-inch round. Press into a moon cake mold or carve a crisscross design on top. (If you are using a moon cake press *, arrange on a cookie sheet and chill overnight.) Rearrange the the cakes about 1 inch apart on lightly buttered baking sheets. Brush the surface of the moon cakes with the glaze. Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a rack and serve.
From “Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragonboats,” by Nina Simonds