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In The Family
What Are Mooncakes?

You never forget the sweet taste of your first surprise duck egg inside.

Come the Mid-Autumn harvest festival, Chinese and other Asian bakeries bloom with mooncakes. The rich, dense pastries feature a thin outer crust pressed into a special mold that forms an intricate pattern. The cakes are filled with a thick paste, usually made of lotus seed or sweet bean, and often studded with one or two salted duck eggs. The cakes are common gifts among family, friends, and business partners, dating back to an ancient tradition of sacrificing gifts to the goddess of the moon during autumn. Regional variations and recent advancements in mooncake technology mean today’s mooncakes take all kinds of forms, including mochi and jelly skins that aren’t even baked.

Also read: Rice Cake Resolutions

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Max Falkowitz

Max Falkowitz is a food and travel writer for The New York Times, Saveur, GQ, New York magazine’s Grub Street, and other outlets. He’s also the coauthor of The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook with Helen You.