I was at Ranch 99 the other day and I saw the display of mooncake boxes. I couldn’t believe it. Was it already that time of year? It feels like only a few months ago, I was attempting to make mooncakes for the first time.
But yes, Mid-Autumn Festival is coming up in a couple of weeks. Since I made mooncakes last year, I decided I’m not going to buy any this year, I’ll just make my own. The snow skin mooncakes are actually really easy to make and don’t require any baking.
Snow skin mooncakes use a cooked glutinous rice flour crust, resulting in a very soft mochi-like texture. I really enjoy making snow skin mooncakes because they are so colorful. They are also easier to make because they are no-bake and healthier because the crust is not as oily as the traditional ones.
Last year I searched high and low for cooked glutinous rice flour but couldn’t find it at any Chinese or Vietnamese market in San Diego. I even checked a few in Orange County and Los Angeles.
A reader, Aimee, commented on my mooncake post from last year telling me she found the flour in Seattle. She sent me a photo and lo and behold, I found it in San Diego! (Thanks again Aimee!) Last year, we went to Ranch 99 and Thuan Phat Market in San Diego. Then I remembered that there is another Vietnamese market in Mira Mesa, Vinh Hung. It’s much smaller, which is why I didn’t think to try it last year. (Actually Mr. K thinks we did try this market last year as well, but I don’t remember doing so. Either way we didn’t find it.) I decided to start there and I immediately found it. Not only did I find the brand that Aimee had emailed me a photo of, but there were two different brands. I know for sure I didn’t see either one at all the markets I went to last year because I read every single label and definitely did not see the photos of snow skin mooncakes with the label “roast glutinous rice flour.”
Anyhow, I was overjoyed that I didn’t have to make my own. I stocked up even though one bag makes quite a few.
One great thing about the prepackaged flour is that it’s white (likely bleached), whereas the one I made last year was a toasted yellow, making it impossible to make the original crystal white colored mooncakes which is where the name “snow skin” comes from.
Enough babbling. The mooncakes are really easy to make, so don’t be intimidated. You mix a few ingredients together to form a dough. You do need mooncake molds though. I bought mine from ebay last year. I bought the plastic ones, rather than the traditional wooden ones. It’s easier to use and comes with many interchangeable face plates.
The traditional fillings: lotus paste, red bean paste, etc, can be found at Ranch 99 in their fridge section of prepared items. They look something like this:
It took a few before I got the hang of making them again. I am going to work on making some multi-color ones and hopefully sharing those in time for mooncake day. I did experiment with a few two-toned ones.
Here are some step by step photos:
If you can’t find the flour anywhere near you, you can read my post from last year on how to make your own roasted glutinous rice flour.
Snow Skin Mooncakes
100g roasted glutinous rice flour
90g icing sugar
approx 50g cold water
filling of your choice. I bought premade red bean and lotus pastes. You will need quite a lot of filling, about 70 g per 100gram mooncake.
1. Sift the flour and icing sugar in a mixing bowl. Gently rub the shortening into the flour mixture, combining until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. If using food coloring, add drops into the cold water. Mix in the cold water about 1 tsbp at a time and knead dough until soft dough forms. You may need slightly less water or slightly more so don't pour it all in at once. It's best to knead the dough with your hands so that it comes together. The dough should be soft and malleable. Make sure you work with the dough right away because it gets hard and dry if it sits out.
2. Divide dough, depending on size of mooncake molds. The ratio should be 1 part dough, 2 parts filling. So for a 100g mooncake, you would weigh out 30 grams of dough and 70 grams of filling.
3. Flatten the ball of snow skin and roll out until you get a thin circle. Place the ball of filling in the center of the dough and seal the filling with the snowskin dough. If there are any holes in your dough, make sure to smooth them out. Put the seam-side part of the ball into the mold and pack it in gently (the folded bunched up section will get flattened and shaped by the face plate). Flip it over onto flat surface. Press down on the lever hard so that the mooncake shape is formed and the face plate makes imprint. Then squeeze to release and mooncake. Repeat with remaining dough. Chill for 6 hours before serving. Keep uneaten ones in the fridge.