Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mooncakes for Mid Autumn Festival - Chocolate Mooncakes and Luxury Mooncakes

Chynna's red lantern mooncake

Time to stock up those mooncakes as the festival is just round the corner - October 3rd to be exact. Most of the shopping malls have started selling mooncakes - Isetan, Mid Valley and 1 Utama are a few you can visit for a varied selection. Today it is a luscious collection of chocolate mooncakes (covered and chocolate flavoured) and mooncakes using deluxe ingredients. There's also quite a lot of overlapping of categories, as most of the chocolate filled mooncakes also include liquors or alcohol.

Blue moon was introduced last year by Chynna

Nowadays with our more sophisticated palate, you find an array of interesting flavoured mooncakes that use luxury ingredients like champagne, liquors, birds nest and even the highly sought after truffle. These decadent ingredients add a flair to the traditional mooncakes, making them pretty unique. Some times the combination of flavours work so well, you kinda keep craving for them throughout the mooncake season. Occasionally, even though they come with a hefty price tag, the flavours just don't meld together. Nevertheless, these mooncakes always make great gifts since they're so pretty especially when they're presented in those unique boxes.

the very aromatic winner - the Golden Treasure made with Kahlua and tiramisu paste

Let's start with the chocolate mooncakes. Chocoholics will love Lai Poh Heen from Mandarin Oriental's spin on chocolate mooncakes where instead of using snow skin, they use real chocolate as the skin with a ganache centre. The taste of these mooncakes reminds one of a chocolate bar with different fillings. Under that catergory, Lai Poh Heen has 4 kinds: milk chocolate with peanut butter crunch and raspberry center, white chocolate with pineapple jelly and ganache, white chocolate mooncake with calamansi ganache and their best seller, the dark chocolate with durian ganache.

Chocolate covered mooncakes - simply delish!

I didn't manage to try the durian one since it was sold out. The durian and the peanut butter crunch version are previous year's specialties while this year, the new flavours are the pineapple jelly and calamansi ganache. Using white chocolate, which is usually sweeter, the chefs have paired it with more tangy flavours from the pineapple jelly and calamansi ganache. While the calamansi ganache gives a refreshing taste, which we thoroughly enjoyed, we found the pineapple jelly version to be a little insipid in taste. The peanut butter crunch version was gorgeous, reminding me a little of a Ferrero Rocher with its crunchiness. The raspberry center was meant to counteract the sweet flavours but for me, it didn't seem to do that job as the flavours weren't intense enough. Not many hotels do the chocolate covered versions but Theobroma Chocolate lounge does have their own version.

the divine Ms. Truffle Chocolate Macadamia mooncake from Shang Palace - my ultimate favourite

For the chocolate filled mooncakes, this is a tough one as there's a lot of overlapping with the luxe category as most of them also use some form of alcohol. If we just compare the ones with chocolate and alcohol, my favourite would be Tai Zi Heen, Prince Hotel's bittersweet chocolate with whiskey. The chocolate used is very aromatic with just a hint of alcohol.

a perennial favourite - the Moet Chandon scented mooncake from Li Yen

Last but not least, comes the deluxe ingredients category. My ultimate favourite and definitely the best mooncake for this year is Shang Palace's snow skin white truffle chocolate with macadamia and caramel crunch. The chocolate is not too sweet and I just love the crunchy macadamia bits. Best of all, is the fragrance of the white truffle. Simply heavenly! If you had to spend all your monies on, do it on this one. One word of advice though, don't leave it for too long in the fridge, as the truffle aroma is lost after a few days, once it is cut.

The other favourite is Chynna's Golden Treasure - white snowskin dusted with gold edible dust filled with a very aromatic tiramisu paste scented with Kahlua. The shimmering gold colour can be slightly offputting for the health conscious but the filling is gorgeous and aromatic. Another favourite is Li Yen's mini Moet & Chandon champagne snowskin mooncake. You can really smell the champagne and the quality of the snowskin is also very good - just the right amount of softness with a little bite. I liked how salted egg yolk was also added within to counterbalance the sweet lotus paste.

For more on each of the different categories and the tasting notes, see below. More pictures of the mooncakes can be found in my Flickr set.

Chocolate Mooncakes

Chocolate covered mooncakes

1. Lai Poh Heen, Mandarin Oriental KL Hotel, milk chocolate mooncake with peanut butter crunch and raspberry center (Size of 4.5x2cm for RM19.95) - reminds one of Ferrero Rocher with the crunchy bits. The raspberry jelly center was not aromatic enough though.

2. Lai Poh Heen, Mandarin Oriental KL Hotel, white chocolate mooncake with pineapple jelly and ganache (Size of 4.5x2cm for RM19.95) - pineapply jelly is not tangy enough to balance the sweet taste of the white chocolate.

3. Lai Poh Heen, Mandarin Oriental KL Hotel, white chocolate mooncake with calamansi ganache (Size of 4.5x2cm for RM19.95) - love the tangy flavour of the calamansi ganache that balances out the sweet white chocolate shell.

Chocolate Filled Mooncakes

1. Tai Zi Heen, Prince KL Hotel, mini snowskin mooncake with bittersweet chocolate and whiskey (Size of 4.5x2cm for RM15 - lovely chocolate aroma, not too sweet with just a hint of alcohol.

2. Dynasty, Renaissance KL Hotel, mini almond mocha chocolate mooncake (Size of 4.5x2.5cm for RM9.45) - very soft snowskin and centre. Almost gooey taste with very little chocolate aroma.

3. Westin KL Hotel, mini snowskin Baileys coffee chocolate with macadamia nuts (Size of 4x3cm for RM13) - snowskin shell is very soft and the aroma of chocolate and Baileys is not very distinct.

4. Chynna, Hilton KL Hotel, Baileys chocolate with sunflower seed (Size of 5.5x3cm for RM13.65) - incredibly rich and overpowering taste. Very mild Baileys aroma.

Luxury Mooncakes

1. Li Yen, Ritz Carlton KL Hotel, mini Moet & Chandon champagne snowskin mooncake (Size of 4.5x2.5cm for RM8.50) - lovely snowskin texture with a champagne aroma. Not overly sweet as matched with salted egg yolk.

2. Chynna, Hilton KL Hotel, raise the red lantern which is made from snow skin kirsch lotus paste and raspberry (Size of 5.5x3cm for RM13.65) - the skin is a startling bright red, which probably indicates quite a lot of red colouring was used. Not so good for those who are health conscious. Raspberry taste is not very distinct.

3. Chynna, Hilton KL Hotel, blue moon which is made from snow skin amaretto paste with blueberry cheese feuillantine (Size of 5.5x3cm for RM13.65) - again the blue colouring may be offputting for some. The blueberry cheese is quite a nice combination but not exceptionally aromatic.

4. Chynna, Hilton KL Hotel, golden treasure which is made fromed gold dusted snow skin with kahlua and tiramisu paste (Size of 5.5x3cm for RM13.65) - very aromatic and the snowskin texture is not too soft. The favourite of all the Chynna's mooncakes eaten.

5. Shang Palace, Shangri-La KL Hotel, snow skin white truffle chocolate with macadamia and caramel crunch (Size of 5x2.5cm for RM24) - one of the best ever with the hint of truffles, the macadamia crunch and the aromatic chocolate. Definitely the most luxurious mooncake ever.

6. Shang Palace, Shangri-La KL Hotel, snow skin birds nest with custard (Size of 5x2.5cm for RM22) - bird nest is placed in the middle of the mooncake. Nothing special as the birds nest has not much aroma, just the jelly like texture.

7. Dynasty, Rennaisance KL Hotel, snow skin lotus paste champagne truffle raisin mooncake (Size of 4.5x2.5cm for RM10.5) - the truffle within is a chocolate truffle placed as a center. Nice champagne aroma but the snowskin is a little too soft. No raisins though.


Sean said...

y'know, i've been reading about how mooncakes get grander every year, and it seems like the next step will be a gourmet degustation menu of mooncakes paired with wines! :D

boo_licious said...

Sean, betcha they're listening and who knows? Or it could be various types and quality of Chinese tea.

ipanemagirl said...

OMG this is so superb...awesome..i love mooncakes esp the snow mooncakes..ur pics are so great

Kenny Mah said...

Brilliant: A whole list of mooncake reviews. The Devil usually buys from Mandarin Oriental... those mini snowskins? But this year their green tea ones pale in comparison with the previous batch... Not much green tea flavour. :(

I wonder if I can persuade the Devil to try Chynna's golden treasure..?

J2Kfm said...

after Ramadan bazaar, I thought the dust had settled. then this mooncake extravaganza came along.
wow .... certainly opened my eyes to the ingenious creations out there.

boo_licious said...

ipanemagirl - Thxs for the nice compliment.

Life for Beginners - the MO mini snowskins will be done later this week. Yeah, the green tea snowskin did lack flavour, in fact I didn't think they were that fantastic. Overall, I would say Shangri-la has a very solid approach, great mooncakes and fantastic packaging.

j2kfm - what to do, so many festivals cropping up together. Foodies never stop eating and eating!

qwazymonkey said...

OMG! the Chynna ones are so psychedelic and rather scary! Think I might only dare to put The Golden Treasure one in my mouth. Would love to try Shang Palace's snow skin with truffle choc.

Love Sean's degustation mooncakes idea!

boo_licious said...

qwazymonkey - smurf blue describes the Chynna blue moon so well and probably blood red for the red lantern one? Yeah, after all that scary colours, we all agreed the edible gold dust was the lesser of both evils! Yeah, I love Sean's idea too.

eiling lim said...

OMG i must try the M&C mooncake! I must I must!

boo_licious said...

eiling - hee hee, I thought you will be more into the chocolate ones?

eiling lim said...

no. liquor more. hehe

boo_licious said...

eiling - the alcoholic calling vs the chocoholic

mingsuan said...

Would kill to have some of these but unfortunately looks like in Beijing they only have the traditional types. Most avant garde ones are probably the Starbucks ones which cost over RMB300. Daylight robbery.

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