Snow Skin Mooncakes

overhead photo of Snow Skin Mooncakes

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.

photo of three Snow Skin Mooncakes on a plate

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.”
photo of two brands of 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.
close-up photo of white mooncake
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, but they are now also available on Amazon*. I bought the plastic ones, rather than the traditional wooden ones. It’s easier to use and comes with many interchangeable faceplates.

step by step photo showing how to stamp the mooncakes with the mold

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:
photo of a package of lotus paste
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.
close-up photo showing a multi-color mooncake
Here are some step by step photos:
photo of how the dough looks once it's combinedphoto showing how to roll the doughphoto showing how to shape the cakephoto showing how to mold the cake using the mooncake mold tool

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.
photo of a white, pink, and green mooncakes on a plate

SPECIAL TOOLS:

Mooncake molds*

*Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links. Much like referral codes, this means I earn a small commission if you purchase a product I referred (at no extra charge to you).

Snow Skin Mooncakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 9 (100 g) mooncakes

Snow skin mooncakes use a cooked glutinous rice flour crust, resulting in a very soft mochi-like texture. With the right ingredients and tools (see notes for more details), mooncakes are actually really easy to make and don't require any baking, although the cakes need several hours to chill in the refrigerator before serving.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g roasted glutinous rice flour (see note)
  • 90 g icing sugar
  • 30 g shortening
  • approx 50g cold water
  • filling of your choice (see note)
  • food coloring

Directions:

  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.

Notes:

  • Look for glutinous rice flour at Chinese or Vietnamese markets. I found mine at Vinh Hung in Mira Mesa, CA.
  • I bought premade red bean and lotus pastes for my mooncake filling. You will need quite a lot of filling so plan for about 70 grams per 100 gram mooncake.
  • I use these mooncake molds*.

*Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links. Much like referral codes, this means I earn a small commission if you purchase a product I referred (at no extra charge to you).

All images and content are © Kirbie's Cravings.

 

76 comments on “Snow Skin Mooncakes”

  1. I received an email from Godiva for their chocolate mooncakes for the mid-autumn festival. Like you, I thought, “So soon?” The chocolates look like regular candies (no crust, no usual Chinese fillings) and nicely boxed for gifts.

    • Ooh, I saw chocolate mooncakes somewhere else too. They do look nice but I don’t know if I want to get any since it is just regular chocolate shells.

  2. Hi Kerbie, your snow skin mooncakes look so pretty! I still haven’t planned what filling to make for the mooncakes this year. Thanks for reminding 🙂

    • Thank you! That’s such high praise coming from you. You make the most beautiful ones every year! In fact I’m going to try to make the multicolor ones you did for your blog last year.

  3. I agree! Time flies. It is time to prepare mid-autumn fest. I love snow skin mooncakes. Since they don’t look too hard to make, I really should make my own. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  4. Is it possible to make these without weighing them?

    • I think it would be very hard because the molds are also in grams and to get the right size to fit your molds, the weight needs to be close to the size of the molds you bought. A scale is super cheap! Only about $20 something and no more having to convert recipes!

  5. I should start making these. The stuff at the store is always so expensive. Thanks!

  6. Hooray! Thanks for posting the roasted glutinous flour bag photos! I live in SD too and had to make my own flour a couple years ago. I made my own lotus paste last year because 99 ranch ran out and it was AMAZING in the traditional baked ones (even my Chinese MIL loved them and she normally doesn’t like mooncakes). I am excited to try and do the snow skin ones this year. Great post!

    • Yes, try them out! Wow, i’m impressed you made your own lotus paste! Ranch 99 seems to always run out of lotus paste when it’s mooncake season. I still needed to try the traditional ones this year.

  7. I found some glutinous fried starch powder at my local market. Is that the same as fried rice flour?

  8. I made my own roasted rice flour in a frying pan. Smoke came off the pan and the rice flour turned light yellow. I follow the recipe, but noticed that when I tasted the dough right after it came together, it was a bit gritty of dry flour. Is it because the four is raw? Or will that go away after it sets?

    • it sounds like maybe some of the flour is still raw or you didn’t use enough shortening. there shouldn’t be any gritty taste, even before it sets

  9. Kirbie, that’s what I was worried about. After a few minutes, it didn’t have any of that chewy quality in the dough. Should I just pan fry the flour again? How yellow or brown should it be?

    • You might want to try steaming it. It sounds like some of your flour is roasted and some didn’t get properly roasted, so maybe if you steam it, it will cook the rest without making the flour too brown.

  10. nice of you to share! will try to make them this year! tks a lot again!

  11. Kirbie,

    I found this flour, but the packaging is misleading, actually more confusing. Is this fried glutinous rice flour?

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/sweetcakedreams/9773521904/

  12. Yes!!!! I can try and make some before wednesday! Thanks Kirbie!

    • yeah, if you have the flour it’s sooo much easier. No need to make your own and it’s nice and white so you can even make the white ones which is where the snow skin name came from.

  13. Kirbie, How long should I steam the rest of the flour for? I have about 500 grams.

  14. Hi Kirbie,

    I decided to try your recipe I found last year. After I left the dough to set for a little over 30 mins, it was chewy, but wasn’t as smooth or as easy to roll as I thought it should be. It seemed to break apart in clumped sections and shrunk back to a small disc. Did I not add enough water or left it to set too long? How do I know if I added too much or little water? Or did I not knead it enough? Sorry for all the questions!

    • Helen, if you are using the already made skin, don’t let it set. As you see with my updated recipe, just work with it right away. Last year I made my own flour and it seemed to need to set before using, but when I used the already packaged roasted flour, I found that letting it sit will cause the dough to lose its elasticity and make it much harder to work with. So start rolling as soon as it’s done. For the dough you have that already was sitting, you can try adding a little more water to get it to loosen again. it won’t work as smoothly as the fresh made dough, but it should roll out again.

  15. Hello,
    My Lunar Birthday is actually the Moon Festival! I’m going to make this with ice cream instead of regular fillings. I will let you know how it turns out!

  16. Kirbie,
    Thanks for all your help and for this recipe. I made some Ube with taro paste, Sesame with lotus paste, and pandan with lotus. Check it out! Thanks again!!!!

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/sweetcakedreams/9786330936/

  17. It was all thanks to you, and the lovely sushi trays I found 🙂

  18. Excellent descriptions! I’m going to try this out. I haven’t had a good snow skin moon cake since I was in Hong Kong. Glad to know I can get the flour at Viet Wah in Seattle!

  19. Question: do you know how I can substitute the powdered sugar with honey? My friend can’t have processed sugar and he got me some honey so I’m just wondering!

    • I don’t think honey will work. It’s too sticky and you’ll just end up with a really stick dough, especially since you aren’t cooking or baking this after it’s done.

      • I have actually made it using honey. I used one quarter of a cup of honey and mixed it in with the water, before adding it to the rice flour. It worked beautifully.

      • that’s good to know! thank you for sharing!

  20. Update: honey doesn’t work! It became too runny and wouldn’t set

  21. My dough came out to be in between mashed potato and play-dough texture. Is that right? I don’t trust myself

    • It should be more like play dough. You should be able to roll it out. It sounds like you have too much water. You shouldn’t add the whole water amount, but instead should just add 1 tbsp at a time until it comes together. I don’t have an exact amount because I’ve found that each time i make it, it varies a little. Sometimes I need a bit more sometimes a bit less, which is why I wrote in the instructions to do 1 tbsp at a time. Try adding some more flour to the batch you have right now until it’s play dough like

  22. Do you think the shortening could be substituted with unsalted butter/margarine?

  23. Hey there! How many pieces does this recipe make roughly?

  24. Hi there!
    I tried your recipe but without fried glutinous flour (kou fen) since I can’ find it in my country.

    I tried to fry raw glutinous rice flour to make koufen for at least 10 minute until the color gone yellow (or dark cream)

    But here’s the problem:
    After I add water, the dough become very lumpy and very sticky (more like texture of glue), even after I kneaded it about 10 minutes.
    Where did I go wrong?
    Did I add to much water?
    Or did I make the wrong kou fen?

  25. I don’t have a weight. How many tablespoons is 50 grams of water?

    • i dont know off hand. you can try google search, usually there are cooking websites that provide conversions for common ingredients.

  26. I want to try to make this.  Can coconut oil or something else be used instead of shortening?  
    Thanks!

  27. Of the two brands of cooked glutinous flour you bought, which one do you think is best? Or do both work just fine?

  28. The texture of the snowskin comes out to be a bit powdery…i guess it is the sugar ,i expected a smooth skin like “Japanese mochi”….is that the right texture?

    • yes, the texture is more soft and a little powdery. it’s not the same as japanese mochi texture which is steamed, though it sort of looks similar.

  29. I had so much fun making these for the Autumn Moon Festival, and they turned out beautifully! Thank you for a spectacular recipe!

  30. Do i need to fry the flour? Can it be done without frying? How about the dusting part? Do i use nornal flour or fried glutinous flour also?

    • if you use the fried/roasted glutinous rice flour pictured in the post, then it is already fried so you dont need to fry it. if you use regular glutinous rice flour that hastn been fried, then yes, you have to and you should refer to the post I linked to for frying it. There is no dusting.

  31. I am so happy to have found your recipe again this year.  I will be making these gluten free moon cakes, for a second time, for the Autumn Moon Festival at the request of my two Chinese adopted daughters. We are gluten free and I used to purchase moon cakes at a NYC bakery in China Town. These were so delicious last year and simply gorgeous!

  32. Do I have to chill them? What quality will they be if I don’t chill them?

  33. Hi Kirbie,
    I also did every thing as the recipe said with the exception of 70 grams of icing sugar, but it turned out with a rather sandy or grainy taste as if the flour was not well cooked. But i did use the store bought cooked glutinous rice flour. Might you know what happened to my mooncake? I was a bit disappointed with my outcome tho. Do i need to wait one more day or…..?
    Thank you very much!

    • Did you leave out the icing sugar or what did you do instead? It makes a difference in the taste and texture of the mooncake. The cooked glutinous rice flour on its own does taste grainy but when its mixed with the shortening and powdered sugar it makes it soft and taste better.

  34. Hi!
    I would like to ask what is the outcoming texture of the mooncake dough, is it elastic or easy to crumble? And how long do you need to knead before you get that texture?

    • The dough should be soft and pliable. It’s not that elastic but you should be able to roll it out and shape it and it should not be crumbly. It should not need a lot of kneading time– maybe just a minute or less. If your dough is crumbly, you will need to add a little more water.

  35. I also used 40 grams of sugar as it was too sweet for me.

    • the sugar definitely affects the taste of the dough. I think because you reduced the sugar you are tasting the cooked flour more. even though the flour is cooked it’s still not pleasant to eat without it being sweetened first. Also since you reduced the sugar, it may also change the consistency of the dough.

  36. Hi Kirbie, thank you for this wonderful recipe. I love your blog and have been reading for quite some time. I’m sorry if this seems like a dumb question, but with this cooked glutinous flour, you do not have to steam the dough to cook it at all? The dough will be ready to eat once the steps in your recipe are followed? I was a bit confused after watching some Youtube videos and seeing that the cooked glutinous flour was steamed first. Thank you!

  37. Hi Kirbie, if I make a few batches to be given away as gifts, how do I store them? The last round I packed them in sealed bags n the dough dry out. Pls help!

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