It’s the time of the year again when I get asked left right center whether I prefer snowskin mooncakes or the traditional baked ones. Apparently, every year a lot of emphasis is placed on mooncakes because they are restaurants’ and hotels’ most commercially successful festival food. Yep, even more so than Chinese New Year goodies and Christmas log cakes.
My answer? Baked ones, if I have to choose.
Because my all-time ultimate favourite mooncakes are the Teochew flaky ones with a sweet-savoury paste rumoured to be made from pork lard. My grandmother used to buy these huge lard-cakes (that’s what my sister and I call them) from Geylang. Some people have told me that would be Thye Moh Chan – the pastry brand that was bought over by Breadtalk when it announced it would be closing shop, but since I can find no mention of lard in any of the pastries on the brand’s website, I don’t want to jump to any conclusion.
I will always miss my lard cakes.
Personally, I dislike snowskin mooncakes the most. I hate the liberties that have been taken with them in terms of flavours, and I hate that they always turn out too sweet. I have not met a snowskin mooncake I like … until I was given the ones by St Regis’ Yan Ting.
Although there are 5 flavours from St Regis’ Yan Ting’s lineup of snowskin mooncakes this year and only two won me over.
1. Pure “Mao Shan Wang” Durian Snowskin Mooncake ($108 for 8)
I don’t like durians so these were given to Denise and Lili to try. As they cut into the mooncakes, I was assaulted by a powerful acrid pong that sent my head spinning. If that was any indication of how “durian-ish” this mooncake is, I think durian-lovers will love this one. I could even see the fruit fibres in the paste when Denise brought a piece to her mouth. Yuck for me, yay for them.
2. Green Tea Snowskin Mooncake with Melon Seeds ($66.80 for 8)
My favourite of the lot! The green tea flavour was distinctive without being overpowering. There was a certain cleanness to the taste of this mooncake. It wasn’t too sweet and the paste was definitely not cloying. The snowskin, thankfully, wasn’t sticky and my knife went through the whole cake cleanly.
3. Mixed Berries Snowskin Mooncake with Strawberry Paste ($66.80 for 8)
My least favourite. Too sweet, too much berry-flavour, and the entire thing tasted like strawberry-custard pudding. From what I’ve observed over the years of dating an “ang moh”, these fruity flavours tend to go down better with foreign palates. I guess it’s because these taste the closest to a western dessert. For me, I just wish people would stop adding berries to mooncakes.
4. Purple Sweet Potato Snowskin Mooncake ($66.80 for 8)
An unexpected favourite. Sweet potato is not a tuber I would voluntarily eat. Whenever I dine out and the dish has “sweet potato fries” on the side, I always request for them to be changed to normal ones. But I was told this was very good so I took a bite. It was very good. None of the sweet, earthy flavours you tend to associate with sweet potatoes. The sweetness in this mooncake comes through only as an aftertaste. Perfect with Chinese tea, this is a very light snowskin mooncake that would find favour in those without a sweet tooth.
5. Royal Milk Tea Snowskin Mooncake with Red Bean Paste and White Chocolate Champagne Truffle ($68.80 for 8)
I was most disappointed with this. I like tea, I like Champagne … but put them together, the result wasn’t quite what I expected. Everything went well until I bit into the Champagne Truffle. I hate Champagne truffles in mooncakes because I feel most people put them in there for “gimmick purpose”. The well-balanced sweet and milky flavours of this mooncake was abruptly ended by the sharpness of the Champagne. If break-up had a flavour, this mooncake would be it.
Until someone creates a meat-filled savoury mooncake, the Green Tea and Purple Sweet Potato mooncakes would be the perfect Mid-Autumn treats for those with no sweet tooth.
St Regis gave the mooncakes to Material World for review purposes, all opinions are the author’s own. You may order your mooncakes from St Regis by calling Yan Ting (Tel: 6506 6887) or emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org .
About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and hopes someone would create a meat-filled savoury mooncake soon. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweet.