Date and Walnut Cantonese-Style Mooncake

Mooncakes, or 月餅, are unleavened pastries filled with a sweet paste, the most traditional ones being red bean paste, lotus seed paste, date paste, and mixed nuts. Sometimes a whole salted duck egg is added to the middle of the pastry to give it a little bit a savory taste along with the sweetness. They are eaten around Mid-Autumn Festival, the second biggest holiday in the Sinosphere. Mooncakes are mostly presented as gifts, often wrapped in extravagant boxes to impress whoever you are giving it to. Growing up, my family used to get boxes and boxes of mooncakes from family and friends. In addition, my mother would make them from scratch as well (but without a mooncake mold, as she did not have one). We would end up with so many mooncakes that they would last for many months in the freezer. Luckily, I love mooncakes and often can’t wait until autumn to eat them, so I make them year-round.

Mooncakes vary from region to region in the Chinese world. The most familiar mooncake people know of in the West are Cantonese-style mooncakes, which is what I present here on this post. Please check out my other posts for Taiwanese-style mooncakes and Teochew-style mooncakes.


First, make the paste:
  1. Soak beans/lotus seeds (green core removed)/dates overnight
  2. Boil until soft. If using dates, remove seeds by hand and separate skin through metal mesh.
  3. Mash or blend in food processor until it’s a paste.
  4. Add sugar, butter, extracts, spices, etc to taste.
  5. In pan, cook the paste in oil until it becomes thick enough that it doesn’t stick to the pan.
Second, make the caramelized syrup:
  1. 3 tbsp water + ½ cup sugar – boil at high temp to caramelize
  2. Once caramelize, slowly pour in 2 cup boiling water and 2 cup sugar and squeeze 1 slice of lemon. Lemon keeps the sugar from crystalizing.
  3. Simmer at low temperature for at least 45 min or until it becomes a syrupy consistency. DO NOT STIR.
  4. The syrup will be runny when hot but will cool down and become thicker. Add more water if it’s too thick. If too runny, simmer it longer.
Third, make the dough:
  1. Mix 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup caramelized syrup, ½ cup butter (or oil if you prefer healthier alternative), ½ tsp lye water (basically water with baked baking soda, which can also be homemade).
  2. Mix and knead the dough until consistent. Let sit for a few hours to let the liquid and solid blend better.
Fourth, mold the cake:
  1. Roll the paste into a ball
  2. Flatten the skin dough, and wrap it around the ball of paste.
  3. Put the dough filled with paste in a mooncake mold and press into shape
Fifth, bake:
  1. Before putting in oven, spray or sprinkle water on the mooncakes so they won’t crack easily during baking.
  2. Put in oven at 350F x 5 minutes
  3. Take it out, brush a layer of egg wash (I use whole egg mixed with a tiny bit of water) over the mooncakes
  4. Put back in oven at 350F and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown color. If you bake it too long, the mooncake might crack.
  5. Fresh out of the oven, the mooncake will be soft. After 30 minutes or so, the skin will be a little crispy. If left covered overnight, the skin will be soft and moist.

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