Mid-Autumn 2015 Mooncake Roundup (Taiwan Special): Pork Floss Mooncakes, Walnut & Medjool Dates Mooncakes, Haagen-Dazs Handcrafted Ice Cream Mooncakes

Walnut Date Mooncake

The majority of mooncakes here are from Taiwan. I was there before the Mid-Autumn Festival and bought all my mooncakes from I-Mei’s flagship shop in the middle of Taipei.

Mooncakes 2015

They’re mostly Taiwanese style mooncakes with flaky pastry shell but there are some of the classic mooncakes too, however all of them are made in Taiwan unless stated otherwise.

I Mei Taiwan

I had actually planned to get all the mooncakes from Taiwan. I thought it’ll be nice to give out mooncakes from Taiwan – it seemed like the ultimate souvenir, although I did buy other gifts too. It was a very busy trip and I couldn’t find time to get out, until my very last day, when Diana took me out at 10 am in the morning to a shop that sells mooncakes.

Diana

You can get mooncakes at 7-Eleven and the airport but for the former, you have to order in advance and the latter are commercialized stuff and I’ll rather go for a local producer and this place fit the bill perfectly!

Packing Mooncakes

The friendly people there even helped me pack everything and explained what each mooncake was (granted, I spent quite a lot) so that was good, considering I don’t read Chinese.

Pork Floss with Mung Bean Taiwanese Mooncakes (NTD 630)

Taiwanese Savory Mooncake

This is really good! I would give this Best of 2015 due to its unusual savory-sweet mix. I love how the pork floss interacts with the sweet mung bean paste and I really enjoyed eating this gem. I had specifically gone looking for a savory mooncake after hearing about it from Diana (our Taiwanese liaison).

Pork Floss Taiwanese Mooncakes

I was slightly taken aback when she asked me if I was looking for sweet or savory mooncakes. “Savory mooncakes? Whatever do you mean?” I asked. It turns out that pork floss mooncakes have been around for a while and the award winning combination with mung bean and the Taiwanese pastry skin is quite common here.

Pork Floss Mooncakes

This box cost NTD 630 (about RM 85).

I-Mei Specialty Mooncake Selection 2015 with Premium Gift Box (NTD 750)

Taipei Mooncakes

I got this one for my better half. It has a nice painting on the front of the box showing the exact street where I bought this mooncake from in the early days. I-Mei has been around since 1934 and they came out with a commemoration box where they commissioned someone to paint the street scene of their flagship store in Taipei where I went to.

Imei Mooncakes

This has a mixture of Taiwanese style mooncakes, Hong Kong style mooncakes and a selection of Taiwanese pastries (pineapple cake etc). It also has a wonderful Taiwanese mooncake flavor – dates and walnuts! It also appears in the previous box above (I think) as well as the one below (in the Hong Kong skin) and it’s a wonderful flavor!

I Mei Hong Kong Style Mooncakes (NTD 900)

Hong Kong Mooncakes

This is the most expensive selection in their shop and I got in for my dear’s parents. It’s all Hong Kong style baked skin mooncakes but they’re all made in Taiwan. There’s a HUGE mooncake (200 grams) in the middle which has a pineapple filling as a tribute to its Taiwanese heritage but the others come in a variety of flavors including chocolate, walnut and Medjool dates.

Pineapple Mooncakes

I got to taste the pineapple filling and it was really good.

Pineapple Mooncake

I thought the walnut and date filling is really awesome too (but no one else did). In fact, I’ll say the single yolk date filling Taiwanese mooncake is my second favorite this year.

Medjool Dates Mooncake

I also choose a very interesting pack which had dried scallops and XO in a mooncake but for some reason it wasn’t packed and I wasn’t charged for it. I suspect this happened when we switched from a longer box to a flatter one and before it was tabulated and sealed so I didn’t realize it. Oh well.

Teochew Pure Green Bean Mooncake (RM 9.50)

Teochew Mooncake

This lard filled mooncake is from Setapak Teochew Restaurant. It’s been around since 1912 and they’re using their time-tested recipe. It’s a lot of lard (can smell it as soon as you open it) and decidedly (and proudly?) non-halal and there’s a certain charm to old school mooncakes like this, much like the Foochow mooncakes.

Teochew Lard Mooncake

It’s quite good, although the lard smell/taste is a bit overwhelming and the filling is a little too sweet for today’s standards.

Haagen-Dazs Handcrafted Ice Cream Mooncakes (RM 95)

Haagen-Dazs Mooncakes 2015

My better half got this for me. She knows I love mooncakes (especially unusual ones) and thus brought this home one day. It’s the Petite Collection which contains 5 hand-crafted ice cream mooncakes. Each set has:

  • White Chocolate Mooncake with Mango Ice Cream
  • Strawberry Chocolate Mooncake with Summer Berries & Cream Ice Cream
  • Milk Chocolate Mooncake with Chocolate Ice Cream

Handcrafted Ice Cream Mooncakes

The first one is the best and the “rarest” e.g. each mooncake configuration will have 1:2:2 ratio with the White Chocolate with Mango Ice Cream being the smallest number. Their Deluxe Collection also has the same kind of ice cream mooncakes, but with 2:3:3 respectively.

Haagen-Dazs Mooncakes

The Strawberry Chocolate Mooncake with Summer Berries & Cream Ice Cream is very refreshing too but my dear liked the Milk Chocolate Mooncake with Chocolate Ice Cream, which tasted like the Mother’s Day ice cream cake from Haagen-Dazs I got earlier this year. This is also the same mooncake we featured in TumblingMinis. :D

Taiwan Mooncakes

Like I said, most of the mooncakes this year were purchased during my trip to Taiwan and are made in Taiwan. We both thought that the Taiwanese style pastry mooncakes were much better than their attempts to make a baked skin mooncake. I loved the pork floss with mung bean mooncake and the walnut and date mooncakes came in a close second.

Wild flower honey and dates marinated free range chicken rice from scratch!

chicken rice dates

I’ve wanted to cook Hainanese style chicken rice with fresh and dried dates still on the branch for a long time. Unfortunately, I keep getting veto-ed by my better half who thought it’ll be an unsavory dish. Pun not intended. smirk

chicken marinade

We had gotten two free range chicken legs for RM 18.50 from our trip to the wet market last week and one of them is still in the fridge. The other has been cooked into a wonderful Hainanese style chicken rice and I wanted to do the very same dish – except mine would be a sweet version. I finally convinced my honey with the same.

Witticisms aside, you will need:

date rice recipe

  • One whole chicken leg
  • Rice
  • Wild flower honey
  • Dates on branches
  • Fresh dates

fresh date rice

I did this with two types of dates – the sweeter dried dates and the fresh ones still on their branch I got from the Ramadan bazaar a while ago. The latter is used to flavor the rice. I measured one cup of rice and added 1 ½ cups of water to it.

drumstick honey rice

This method of cooking and marinating is what I learned from my dear. The dried dates are opened up and the tiny seed taken out before being smashed for the flavor to come out. I used a whole branch of Tunisian dates, which is a sweet variety with relatively good moisture content.

wild flower honey

I then took a good gunk (which is about 3 heaped tablespoons if you want exact measurements) of New Zealand wild flower honey – chosen for it’s refreshing and light nature – and mixed it with the mashed up dates and massaged the mixture into the chicken leg for a good 3 minutes.

marinating chicken

I made sure to molest caress every fold and curve of the chicken leg like a gentle lover to massage the dried dates + honey marinade into the smooth skin until it’s moist and tender.

honey dates marinate

The marinated chicken leg is then sealed into an air-tight baggie and left in the fridge for 24 hours.

cooking fresh dates

The fresh dates goes into the rice before it’s cooked. I made sure to poke multiple holes into each date before it went into the pan. I also used a fork to pick apart the fresh dates so that the maximum surface area will be exposed with tiny bits going with the rice before setting it to boil.

cooking dates rice

The dried dates + wild flower honey chicken leg is placed on top of the rice just as the water starts to get hot. Don’t wait for it to boil!

honey date rice

The pressure pan is closed for 5 minutes on low heat to cook the chicken leg and rice. I was amazed by the fragrant sweet smell when I opened it!

our date rice

The fresh date rice is mildly sweet with bits and pieces of dates embedded into the fluffy grain. It’s fragrant and goes very well with the dried date + honey marinated chicken leg. It’s sweet, but not overpoweringly so, it’s a very subtle nuance.

dried dates chicken

I liked it but I think marinating the chicken for 48 hours would do better in absorbing the sweet dried dates and wild flower honey right into the bone! :)

Anbara / Anbarah king dates – the most expensive variety

anbara king dates

There are a lot of dates in the market now since it’s the fasting
month. I saw the now ubiquitous date displays at 1 Utama and something
caught my attention…

anbara dates king

RM 13.90 for five dates in a container! That’s about RM 3 dollars
per date! It’s a ludicrous sounding price, since most dates aren’t so
expensive.

anbara dates container

I couldn’t resist from getting some though. I just had to taste these expensive dates, just to see what’s so special about it.

anbara dates 5

I learned that Anbara (also spelled Anbarah) dates hails from Saudi Arabia and is the most expensive premium dates around.

anbara dates coin

These are very large dates, as you can see – here’s a 20 cent coin
on top of it for a better perspective. It well deserves the title of
king dates indeed. I haven’t seen larger dates around.

anbara dates inside

It tastes really good too, high sugar content, with very generous
flesh. There isn’t much of a seed to speak of, which is good. Fleshy,
sugar packed dates, full of protein.

Anbara dates. i’m lovin’ it.

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