Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to you! Another fall celebration means another year of mooncakes, and this time their filled with pumpkin and chocolate chips. Surprised? I’m betting you are. These delicacies are a nice change from your every September mooncake, and better yet, they’re delicious and in keeping with the season!Inside these mooncakes is a cake filling that’s moist and dense. The cake itself is made from pumpkin quick bread crumbs melded together with a few spoonfuls of pumpkin butter. This cake pop-like filling serves as the swap out for the classic red bean or lotus seed paste typically found in mooncakes.
Store-bought slices of cake can also be used to create the filling. A small amount of crumbs goes a long way, and a few spoonfuls of icing easily serves as the binder. Dark chocolate or red velvet moon cake? Imagine the possibilities! For those wanting a healthier filling, try using your favorite energy ball recipe. Any paste with a rich flavor and dense, cuttable texture will work well here.
Personally, I like to use my favorite pumpkin bread recipe, with a few adjustments. When making the recipe, I typically reduce the sugar by half, add some vanilla extract, and double up on the ground cinnamon. For enough crumbs to make 24 of these Mini Pumpkin Mooncakes, I use only half a loaf of bread (or 1/4 of the full recipe).
When it comes to shaping the mooncakes, flour is your friend. Put a generous (even excessive) amount of flour in the molds, then use a pastry brush to lightly push the flour into all the nooks and crannies of the carved wood.To release the mooncake, give the edge of the long mold a few downward whacks against a hard, durable surface. I rap my mold against a wooden rolling pin, which allows the cake to fall onto my work surface without having to catch it.Typically, you’ll find a salted egg (or 2 or 3 or 4) tucked inside the filling of smooth bean paste. In this recipe, the salted egg is replaced with a handful of good ‘ole chocolate chips. It’s unexpected, but something most people love to discover more of. Serve these Mini Pumpkin Mooncakes a few at a time, as you would petit fours, with a good cup of Chinese tea.
Mini Pumpkin Mooncakes
Makes 24- 1.5″ x 1.5″ mooncakes.
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp golden syrup (I used Lyle’s)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp alkaline water (get this at the Chinese grocery store)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups all purpose flour
plenty of bench flour
1/4 prepared recipe of pumpkin bread (or your favorite quick bread or cake), browned edges removed
1/4 cup pumpkin butter (more or less)
2/3 cups chocolate chips (optional)
1 tsp water
large mixing bowl
food processor, fitted with blade
mini mooncake mold (I got mine from The Wok Shop in San Francisco)
1 Tbsp measure
large baking sheet fitted with parchment
1. Make the Skin Dough. In a large bowl, mix together the syrup, coconut oil, and alkaline water. Add in the cinnamon and flour all at once, and mix together to form a clumpy dough. Knead the shaggy mass to form a smooth dough ball, then wrap it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
2. Make the Pumpkin Filling. Tear the pumpkin bread into pieces into the food processor. Process for 30 seconds or so, until all the pieces become fluffy crumbs. Add the pumpkin butter, and process again until the crumbs clump together into a mass. Depending on the moisture level in you pumpkin bread crumbs, you may need to slightly adjust the amount of pumpkin butter you add. Transfer the pumpkin filling into a large bowl and mix in the chocolate chips until they are evenly distributed throughout.
3. Make a Dumpling. On a large work surface lightly dusted with bench flour, cut the skin dough into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rough 3 1/2″ circle. If you need to, coat your rolling pin in flour. Wrap a 1 Tbsp of the filling in the circle, then pinch to seal and enclose the filling.
4. Shape the Dumpling into a Mooncake. Prep the wooden mold by putting a generous amount of flour in the cavity. Use a pastry brush to brush the flour into all the nooks and crannies of the decorative mold. Now take the dumpling and generously flour it on all sides. Roll it into a cylinder-like shape, with the width less than 1 1/2″. Push the dough round into the cavity and press it in firmly with the palm of your hand.
5. Release the Mooncake. Hold one end of the wooden mold while smacking the other end against a hard, durable surface edge (or rolling pin) over the floured work surface. As the edges of mooncake start to release from the mold, lightly ease it out with your fingers, then place it on a baking sheet fitted with parchment. Gently dust it off with the pastry brush to reveal it’s decorative design. Set the oven to 350 degrees F. Repeat this process to make a total of 24 mini moon cakes.
6. Finish & Bake the Mooncakes. Place the moon cakes on the baking sheet at least 1/2″ apart. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Brush the mooncakes lightly, on all sides, with egg wash, then place them back in the oven to bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the cakes are a rich mahogany brown on all sides. Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once they have cooled, store these cakes in an airtight container in the fridge. Enjoy!