It’s always more fun to DIY. Every week, we’ll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
For those who celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, there’s a lot to love. The celebration is something like a Chinese Thanksgiving — a time for family, celebration, and good food. It’s also the time when we eat one of the treats I love best in all the world: mooncakes. They get their name from the full moon that marks the date of the festival, and they’re about as rich and decadent as Chinese desserts get. A supple, golden-brown crust hides impossibly smooth, dense fillings like white lotus paste or chocolatey red bean, and my favorite varieties have a salty, savory duck yolk (or two, or more!) nestled in the center. They’re so indulgent that my family used to cut just one into eight tiny slivers and share them between the four of us, but in my metabolic heyday, I could have put away several of these calorie bombs in one sitting.
In Hong Kong and mainland China, mooncakes are everywhere this time of year. Stateside, they’re a little less plentiful, so this year I decided to try my hand at making my own. As it turns out, learning how to make these gems was surprisingly easy, a ton of fun, and immensely rewarding.
You do need a few specialty items, like the mold, but an Asian market or Amazon can always help. After that, the process is straightforward, and the reward is a homemade mooncake that is incomparably lighter and kinder on your stomach, but still just as (if not more) delicious as the store-bought versions. The homemade paste in particular is a dream; lotus paste can be sickly sweet and chemical-tasting if it’s not made well, but when it’s homemade, it’s worlds away from those cloying versions — fragrant, delicate, and floral.
Many store-bought fillings incorporate lard for a richer mouthfeel, but most homemade recipes I found call for regular vegetable oil instead. As a result, many of the people who followed these recipes noted problems with overly-soft fillings, so I sought to avoid that by using another fat that, like lard, is solid at room temperature. I opted for coconut oil, which lent the fillings a nice, nuanced coconut undertone — but feel free to use lard if you can find a good quality version and you’re comfortable with it. Otherwise, vegetable shortening may be another substitute, or you can just try regular oil as long as you’re prepared for softer filling.
Finally, the recipe here is designed for miniature mooncakes, which are about 50 to 60 grams in size. For traditional-sized mooncakes, you may need to play around with the sizes of the fillings and the wrapper doughs to get the right shape.
Makes 2 cups
1 cup dried lotus seeds, or two 12-ounce cans cooked lotus seeds in water
2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar (to taste)
Pinch salt (optional)
6 tablespoons coconut oil
Makes 12 to 14 miniature mooncakes
1/4 cup golden syrup (like Lyle’s)
1/2 teaspoon alkaline water (also called kansui, or potassium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate solution)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour (alternatively, omit cake flour and use 1 cup of all-purpose flour)
2 cups of lotus paste (you can also use red bean paste)
1 miniature (50 gram) mooncake mold
First, make the mooncake filling. If you’re using dried lotus seeds, soak them in plenty of water for at least 6 to 8 hours, or overnight. The seeds should soften and plump up considerably. The next morning or when you’re ready to use, rinse the seeds, then split them in half and remove the green sprout in the center (the sprouts are bitter, and will affect the taste if they’re left in).
Place the seeds in a pot with plenty of water and bring it to a simmer over medium-low heat. Let the seeds cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until they are soft enough that you can mash them with a fork. Drain the cooked seeds, then place them in a food processor with the sugar and blend until smooth. (If you’re using canned lotus seeds, skip straight to this step.) You may need to add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water in this step to achieve a smooth texture.
Next, pour the purée into a medium saucepan or skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until much of the water has been cooked away and the purée has thickened to a consistency similar to hummus. At this point, if the purée isn’t as smooth as you like, you can blend it again.
When your purée is the consistency of your liking, add the fat of your choice. Most any fat that is solid at room temperature (excluding butter) should work for this. I used coconut oil because I thought it would be fun to add a touch of coconut flavor to the filling, but lard is most traditional here, and shortening would work as well. Stir the mixture until the fat is fully incorporated, then continue to cook over medium heat until the purée becomes glossy and forms a dough that sticks to the spoon in one mass, about 4 to 5 minutes. The consistency should be similar to soft cookie dough at this point. Remove from heat and chill until ready to use.
Now it’s time to get started on the dough. In a large bowl, whisk together the golden syrup, alkaline water, and vegetable oil until blended. (The mixture will likely not fully combine, but do the best you can to emulsify it.) Next, add in the two flours and use a wooden spoon to stir until it forms a pebbly dough.
Gather the mixture together and gently knead it just until it comes together into one mass — take care not to knead vigorously. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 45 minutes to an hour.
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Divide the filling into 12 equal pieces and shape each of them into a ball. Each ball of filling should be about 2 tablespoons to 2 1/2 tablespoons — roughly the size of a golf ball. If you have a kitchen scale, each ball should weigh about 33 to 34 grams.
For each mooncake, scoop about a tablespoon of dough and roll it out between two pieces of parchment so that it’s about 3 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter.
For this next step, you may want to flour your hands lightly, though I didn’t and it was generally fine. Place a ball of filling in the center and fold up the dough around the ball. It likely will not cover the whole ball at once, nor should it. Gently push, press, and squeeze the dough, holding the ball securely in your palm, until the dough gradually covers the filling ball. The firmer your filling, the easier this will be. If it really won’t squeeze over the filling, don’t worry — just pinch off another small piece of dough, roll it out, and use it to patch the ball. I did this a few times and the results were just as good.
To make things even easier, you can even just roll out two small balls of dough (about a teaspoon each) and fold one around each end of the filling so that you cover all of the lotus paste without needing to stretch or squeeze.
Place the mooncake ball into your mold and turn it upright on your surface. Press the plunger down until you feel resistance. Lift the mooncake mold off the table and use the plunger to push the mooncake out. Place on a Silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet while you make the rest of the cakes. If it’s a hot day, you may want to place these in the fridge to keep their form while you finish folding.
When you’re finished forming the mooncakes, bake them at 350° F for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk an egg with a splash of water until smooth.
Remove the mooncakes from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Brush on the egg wash, then bake the cakes for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top and fragrant.
Let cool completely. Store the mooncakes in an airtight container for 2 days to “release oil” — the mooncake skins will become shiny, soft, and supple, and it’s at this point that they’re meant to be enjoyed. (But I won’t tell if you sneak one fresh.) Gift them to friends, or enjoy!
Photos by Cynthia of Two Red Bowls
via Food52 http://ift.tt/1AeB72K
Photo by Aurelie Baumel/MSF
At the health center at Mamadou M’Baiki, in PK5, the Primary Health Care project was initiated in early January 2014. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has worked in the Central African Republic since 1997 and currently has more than 300 international staff and more than 2,000 Central African workers in the country. MSF treats children aged 0-15 and provides free medication for children and adults.
Winnipeg Police say they are concerned for the well being of two missing sisters. Mary-Anne Hudson, 12, and her 14-year-old sister Nakita Hudson were last seen August 26 in Winnipeg’s St. James neighbourhood.
The sisters are known to frequent Winnipeg’s North End and shopping malls in downtown Winnipeg and Polo Park.
Mary-Anne Hudson is approximately 5’5” tall, 110 pounds, with long brown hair and brown eyes. Nakita Hudson is 5’4” in height, 100 pounds with red hair and brown eyes.
Winnipeg police won’t say if the girls were in foster care or if they are from a particular First Nation.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Winnipeg Police Service Missing Persons Unit at 204-986-6250.
WHATEVER YOU THINK THIS FROG SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE WRONG.
I pressed play on this video and my cat instantly came running to see what was wrong. He thought one of the children of his people was in distress. Didn’t know he was so caring… maybe I should get a kitten?
Night walk - Granada’s maze - Spain
Great atmosphere, lighting and colors. I like the lone figure at the background.
(there’s meaning as long as there’s someone to need it)
LLUVIA EN XOCHIMILCO, MEXICO. AGOSTO, 2014.
i don’t know about you, but i grew up seeing mostly white dolls that looked nothing like me. in fact, even the few black dolls i saw looked nothing like me. they had super straight hair, and sometimes blue or green eyes. where was the barbie doll with brown eyes and beautiful curly, kinky hair?
well now, i found a DIY tutorial that allows you to make even the doll with the finest hair, look a little more like you.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- A doll
- End papers (sold at beauty supply shops)
- Pipe cleaners
- Boiling water
Note about end papers: If you start with a doll that has long hair and you plan to make a style similar to the style shown in my picture, you won’t need end papers, they’re optional. But if you start with a doll that has shorter hair and don’t plan to cut it any further, end papers will be essential.
1. Cut pipe cleaners into two-inch pieces and bend each one in half. They will look like little “V” shapes.
2. Section off a piece of hair and twist it into a tight spiral. The smaller the sections, the tighter the curls will be.
3. Wrap the spiral in an end paper (optional)
4. Place a pipe cleaner onto the scalp and pull the twisted section into the crook of the pipe cleaner. Be sure to keep the hair spiraled tightly as you zig-zag it.
5. When you finish zig-zagging each section, twist the pipe cleaner ends around each other to lock everything into place.
fully wrapped head
6. Once you have all the sections in pipe cleaners, dip the head in boiling water for the count of ten.
7. Wait for the head to cool – usually a few hours, but overnight is best. Rinse in cold water and place doll in freezer if you want to speed things up.
8. Take the pipe cleaners out.
9. If you have length to spare, trim each section to get rid of straight ends or strays.
feel free to leave it like this, or pick it out and make your doll’s fro as big as you desire. i don’t know about you, but i’m definitely going to be doing a few of these for my little cousin, who is currently very insecure about her own beautiful curly hair.
YOU ARE A HERO! Oh, God, I’m crying a little now. I needed this so BADLY when I was a little girl! *reblogs like a reblogging thing*
OH MY GOD
This is awesome. Hopefully they’ll come out with a doll that actually has this hair eventually.
PLEASE PRAY FOR PAKISTAN
For those of you who dont know why im so upset let me tell you what’s happening in pakistan right now
16 days ago a man named Imran Khan and Tahir-ul Qadri lead a peaceful protest to the government to convince them to step down because he believed that the election for the prime minister was rigged he was leading a revolution he was trying to change pakistan
The protest went on for 16 days and today the people Peacefully said that they wanted to go to the prime minister house and protest there thats when the “police” (you should know that alot of the police resigned because they didnt want to harm the peaceful protesters) started firing at the INNOCENT PEOPLE they fired at the children and women so the men would have to deal with them rather than fight back
They had CHEMICAL gas that they released at the people
THE GOVERNMENT WON’T LET THE AMBULANCE GET TO THEM THERE ARE PEOPLE NEAR THE BUILDING THAT ARE SUFFERING BECAUSE THEY’VE BEEN SHOT
AND NOW THEY’RE ORDERING THE “POLICE” TO ARREST IMRAN KHAN
7 INNOCENT PEOPLE HAVE DIED
THERE ARE COUNTLESS INJURED THAT ARE ARE GETTING NO HELP
PLEASE TUMBLR THIS NEEDS ATTENTION
YOU GUYS HAVE KEPT FERGUSON ALIVE
YOU GUYS HAVE MADE THE NEWS IN UKRAINE WIDESPREAD
DONT LET THE REVOLUTION HAPPENING PAKISTAN DIE
PLEASE PRAY FOR PAKISTANUpdate: THEY ARE SENDING DEATH THREATS TO THE NEWS THAT IS AIRING ALL THE INJUSTICE HAPPENING BUT THE PEOPLE ARE STILL STANDING STILLUPDATE: THEY ARE ARRESTING THE INJURED NOW