Many moons (Pun definitely intended) have passed and I was perfectly happy to buy a box or two of mooncakes each year during the Mooncake Festival to satisfy my sweet cravings. I had never thought of making them myself as it sounds like a very challenging project, one I would have to invest quite a bit of time into. Besides I would have to make more than a few for it to be worth my while. Now, that would certainly be packing in a lot of calories. Anyway, this “bliss” ended when I saw these spiral beauties on Jeannie’s blog, the Baking Diary. I was totally mesmerized my these green Spiral Pandan Mooncakes with a purple Okinawan sweet potato filling. Talk about color in food…these are beyond striking! I had to check out the recipe but it was not to be found on her blog. A link brought me to the House of Annie.
On closer examination of the recipe, it reminded me of the Shell Curry Puffs my Grandma taught me how to make way back then. While the ingredients and measurements are a little different, both recipes have many similarities. The pastry consists of a combination of two types of dough, a fat and water based dough and another fat only dough to create the layers. The technique though, is different and I was curious to see if Grandma’s method would work just as well. Instead of making 8 or 10 small logs and then slicing each log into half, I used Grandma’s method by making a single rope and slicing it into 16 pieces of dough. From what I can see, the results are slightly different as their method produced more even colored layers while my method yielded more distinct cream and green colored layers.
As for the filling, I had to use a substitute as I have never seen those pretty purple sweet potatoes here. While “chatting” with Nate of House of Annie, he suggested that perhaps I try using beets after reading my recent post on roast beets. Roasted beet mooncakes? I did think of maybe using the juice from the beets to color some paste but in the end I took the easy way out. With squashes coming into season right now, I decided to use the butternut squash that was sitting on my counter. While the color combination is not as strikingly beautiful as the purple sweet potatoes, I am delighted to say that the butternut and pumpkin seeds filling was moist and very tasty. I boiled the cubed squash and so the texture was a little on the soft side. I have adjusted the recipe to steam the squash instead. Do check out the original recipe at the House of Annie and the Baking Diary. Nate and Annie of House of Annie has a wonderful selection of recipes from different world cuisines, many of which I would love to try in the coming days. Jeannie of Baking Diary has some lovely bread recipes and mouth watering Malaysian fare.
This pandan paste is relatively new to me. I had only recently heard of it when I started blogging. During my recent summer vacation to Malaysia and Singapore, this was on the top of my “Things to Buy” list. It is definitely superior to the clear pandan essence. Unfortunately, I have not seen it here in Minnesota. Frozen pandan leaves can be purchased here but you would have to extract the juice using the method found in my post on Pandan Cream Pie. Otherwise, I would suggest substituting the pandan paste with vanilla essence and a few drops of green food coloring or omitting it altogether.
The recipe below was inspired by the House of Annie and the Baking Diary.
- 1 butternut squash (about 1¾lbs (800g) in weight)
- ¼ cup (55g) sugar
- 2 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup (60ml) half and half or milk
- ½ cup (30g) toasted pumpkin seeds
- 1½ (225g) cups all-purpose flour
- 6 tbsp (85g) butter
- 3 tbsp (25g) powdered sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2/3 cup (160ml) cold water
- 1 cup (150g) all-purpose flour
- A pinch of salt
- ¾ tsp pandan paste
Peel, seed and cut butternut squash into chunks. Put squash in a steaming rack and steam for 10 minutes. Remove and place in a large bowl together with the rest of the ingredients. Mash till you get a smooth paste. Mix in toasted pumpkin seeds. When cool, shape into 16 balls, approximately the size of a walnut.
In a large bowl, add flour, butter, powdered sugar, and salt. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two forks until resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add water and mix to form a soft, non-sticky dough. If dough is a little sticky, add a little more flour. Cover and set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
Place flour in a separate bowl. Make a well in the center. Pour in oil and pandan paste. Mix to form and even colored dough. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour. Cover and set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough a into A circle about 8 inches (20cm) in diameter. Place dough B in the center of dough A. Gather up the sides of dough A to wrap over dough B. With seam side down, roll out dough into a rectangle of about 9-in x 12-in (23cm x 30cm).
With the short side, fold dough facing you over by a third. Reach over and fold the other side over.
Turn dough 90° and roll out again into a 9-in x 12-in (23cm x 30cm) rectangle.
Again fold dough into third like the first time. Turn dough 90° and this time roll dough into a rectangle of about 14-in x 12-in (35cm x 30cm). With the long side, roll dough up into a rope.
With both hands on the rope, continue to roll until it is about 1¾ inches in diameter.
Cut off ends and slice rope into 16 pieces, each about 5/8 inch thick.
Roll out each piece of dough with cut side up into a circle of about 4 inches (10cm) in diameter. Place a ball of filling in the center. Gather up the edges to wrap around filling. Place seam side down onto a baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of dough and filling.
Bake in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 30 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove and let cool on wire rack.
That wonderful aroma of the pandan flavor filled the kitchen. I could hardly wait to taste these cakes.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!