Lotus Mooncakes with Salted Egg Yolks
 
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These homemade lotus mooncakes are definitely a labor of love, but we think they're worth it. Check out our detailed step-by-step lotus mooncakes recipe for instructions!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert and Sweet Stuff
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 18 mooncakes (12 with egg yolks, 6 without)
Ingredients
Part I: The Syrup
  • ½ pound granulated sugar (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • ½ cup water
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
Part II: The Lotus Filling
  • 12 ounces dried lotus seeds (pre-halved is ideal if you can find it; we used whole)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1⅔ cups powdered sugar (aka icing sugar or confectioner's sugar)
  • 1¼ cups peanut oil or corn oil
Part III: the Salted Duck Egg Yolk (it must be salted)
  • 12 salted duck egg yolks
Part IV: The Dough
  • 140 ml sugar syrup (that you made or bought)
  • ⅓ cup peanut oil or corn oil
  • 1 teaspoon lye water (available at your Chinese grocery store)\
  • 1 ⅔ cups flour (about 250 grams) and more for dusting
Parts V & VI: Assembling and Baking the Mooncakes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons water
Instructions
  1. Making the Syrup: Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Once it’s boiled, add the lemon juice, stir, and immediately turn the heat down to low. Keep the lid off, and let the syrup simmer for about 60 to 70 minutes until the sugary liquid turns a light amber color. Do not stir during this time frame! By now, the liquid might look too watery, but it will thicken once it’s cooled. Try not to overcook it, because it will become thick like caramel (it should be the consistency of honey). Just in case you do overcook the syrup, and it’s too thick, add a few drops of hot water to thin it out. Keep adding the hot water until you get the right consistency. Now pour the sugary liquid into a heatproof container, and let it cool completely before storing it in the refrigerator.
  2. Making the Lotus Paste: Using a butter knife, gently split the lotus seeds in half through the top opening. Remove and discard the green center. Wash and soak them overnight. The next day, wash and drain the lotus seeds. In a pot, add the lotus seeds and 4 cups of water (the water level should be above the lotus seeds). Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Once the water reaches a boil, turn the heat to low, and let the seeds simmer for 30 minutes. It’s done once the lotus seeds are softened but have maintained their shape. Turn off the heat, let cool, and then drain the liquid. In a food processor, puree the cooked lotus seeds (it’s best to do this in two batches). Transfer the lotus puree to a non-stick pan (or a cast-iron pan, or a pan with a thick bottom to avoid sticking and burning). Turn the heat to medium low, and stir/flip/turn the puree using a rubber spatula non-stop for about 30 minutes (nice to have the TV or an audiobook on as you're doing this). In between, add in the powdered sugar and oil in 3 alternating batches. With each batch, make sure the sugar and oil is well incorporated before adding more. The lotus filling is done once the lotus paste is slightly firmer/can hold its shape. Let it cool completely before storing in the refrigerator in an airtight container. You can make this one day ahead of time, and I found that it’s easier to work with when the filling has been chilled.
  3. Making the salted duck egg yolks: There are a couple of ways to go about preparing the salted duck egg yolk: The ones I bought are already cooked, so they were ready to use, and you can buy the same. But I did find them to be slightly drier than I would normally like. You can also buy whole cooked salted duck eggs, and extract the whole yolk. You can buy raw salted duck eggs, crack the eggs open, and take out the yolks. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dip each yolk in baijiu (白酒, a clear Chinese liquor made from grain), just briefly to coat it, then put the egg yolks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8 minutes, let them cool completely, and they are ready to use. You can also prepare this ahead of time...just make sure to store them in an airtight container and in the fridge.
  4. Making the dough: First mix the sugar syrup, oil, and lye water together. Then add the mixture to the flour, and use a rubber spatula to fold and combine everything into a soft dough. Do not overwork the dough--this step should only take about a minute or two. Cover the dough in an airtight container or wrap in plastic wrap. Let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour. Chilled dough is much easier to work with. (Side note: you may also leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight if you'd like to make it ahead of time.)
  5. Assembling the mooncakes: While the dough is resting, let’s start assembling the filling. My mooncake mold was marked 100 grams, which means each mooncake should weigh about 100 grams after assembly. This recipe makes 18 mooncakes total: 12 mooncakes with salted duck egg yolks and 6 mooncakes without. Separately weigh out twelve 58-gram scoops of lotus filling and six 70-gram scoops of lotus filling. Shape each portion of filling into balls. Next, take one of the 58 gram lotus balls, make a deep well in the middle, and insert one salted duck egg yolk into the middle. Then close the top and re-shape it into a ball. Repeat for the remaining 11 pieces. It’s good to separate the “with” and the “without.” It’s also a good idea to put them back into the refrigerator, covered, until you are ready to assemble the rest of the mooncakes. Once the dough has finished resting, it’s time to prepare the mooncake mold. My mooncake mold came with four pattern plates––one plate should be attached to the mold itself. Wrap another one with clear plastic, because we will use it to press the mooncake from the bottom;, Now dust the inside of the mold with plenty of flour and shake off the excess. You’ll need to repeat this process before pressing every mooncake to avoid sticking. Divide and weigh the dough into eighteen 25-gram pieces, plus 1 smaller dough ball for scraps/mending, which I will get to. Shape each piece into a ball. Lightly dust the dough balls with flour. Take one dough ball and roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a 4-inch round. Put one piece of filling in the center. Carefully lift it up and turn it upside down, and gently press out the air bubbles around the lotus ball, without breaking the dough. Now turn the opening facing up, and slowly press the dough together to close the opening, keeping the distribution of the dough as even as possible. The dough feels like Play-doh, so it’s easy to break, but it’s also easy to squish back together. These instructions might sound confusing, but follow along with the pictures and keep in mind that the chief goal here is to close the dough around the filling without capturing air inside. Now lightly dust the assembled ball with additional flour. Place it inside the mooncake mold with the mold opening facing up. Now press in the bottom piece (with the clear plastic-wrapped plate that you prepared). With some pressure, gently press it inward. Quickly sit the mold down, and press the mooncake out with the top pressure bar. The bottom piece will come out no problem, but use your other hand to VERY GENTLY guide the mooncake out of the mold. When and if a small piece of dough gets stuck and does not come out, get a small piece of the “scrap”/“mending” dough to patch up the area. Then clean the mold and dust it well with flour again. Then gently flatten all sides of the mooncake to make it smaller, so it can go back in the mooncake mold for re-shaping. Use slightly more flour for dusting if this becomes a persistent issue. Place the mooncakes on a baking sheet as you make them.
  6. Baking the mooncakes: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees when you are almost finished assembling the mooncakes. Once the oven is preheated, gently mist the mooncakes with a food-grade spray bottle (if you have one) filled with water. But since I didn’t have one, I just used my fingers, and it worked fine! Dip your fingers into a bowl of water, and fling the water on your fingers onto the mooncakes a couple of times. This prevents the dough from cracking. Then, immediately put the mooncakes in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. (Remember to set the timer!) Now prepare the egg wash by whisking the egg yolk and water together. After the mooncakes have been baking for 5 minutes, take them out of the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Now lightly brush each mooncake with egg wash, and put them back in the oven. Bake them for another 15 minutes and remember to set the timer. When the time has elapsed, take them out and let them cool completely.
  7. When the mooncakes first come out of the oven, the dough looks dry like bread, and not oily like what you are used to when opening packaged mooncakes. This is normal. Store the cooled mooncakes in an airtight container for a day or two, and the outside will get that nice shiny sheen that you recognize and love.
  8. After this last step, any uneaten mooncakes can be kept in the refrigerator for a week or two.
Recipe by The Woks of Life at https://thewoksoflife.com/lotus-mooncakes-egg-yolks/