These Honey Pistachio Mooncakes are baked mooncakes filled with chopped pistachios and sweetened with honey. The recipe does not use golden syrup and you can freely omit the lye water if you don’t have it.
It is the mooncake season now. Mooncakes are a traditional delicacy dedicated to the Mid-Autumn Festival which falls on the 15th day of the 9th month of the year based on the lunar calendar. Apart from the tradition of moon gazing, eating mooncakes is an absolute must for Chinese around the world.
This year, I am making my own mooncakes at home. These Honey Pistachio Mooncakes are a modern take on the classic five-nut mooncake (五仁月饼/Wu Ren Yue Bing). The traditional mixed nuts mooncake is made with five different kinds of nuts and seeds, but they will be replaced with my favorite nut: pistachios.
This recipe is easier to make than the traditional baked mooncakes as you will omit the long process of cooking the paste filling. It also shows you how to create mooncakes from scratch without purchasing golden syrup or lye water. If you have not made mooncakes before, and are a little intimidated by the steps required to make traditional baked mooncakes, I highly recommend these!
- Cake flour. Use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour for the mooncake dough which will result in softer skin.
- Honey. Golden syrup is usually used in the traditional mooncake dough to create a tender and moist dough that keeps its shape despite being paper thin and can be shaped into delicate patterns. Since it can be hard to find, I use honey as a substitute. Please note that the mooncakes made with honey will be lighter in color than the ones made with golden syrup.
- Neutral cooking oil. Use any oil that has a neutral flavor, such as canola, sunflower, peanut, rapeseed, soybean, corn, vegetable oil, etc.
- Lye water. Lye water is also known as alkaline water or kansui (枧水, jian shui). It is used in traditional mooncakes to neutralize the sourness of golden syrup. It causes mooncake skin to have a dark golden color. Also when reacting with acid, the carbon dioxide released will make the mooncake soft and fluffy. This recipe uses honey instead of golden syrup. Since honey is not as acidic, you only need half of the lye water or you can completely omit it.
- Salt. For taste.
- Pistachios. Roast pistachios first for enhancing the nutty flavor and make them crisp. Chop them roughly if you like them chunky or you can also use a food processor to finely chop them.
- Cooked glutinous rice flour. You will need this to help the filling stick together so that it keeps the mooncake’s shape and does not collapse during baking. Since the mooncake should be fully cooked, you will need to toast the glutinous rice flour first to get rid of the raw taste and add a nutty flavor.
- Honey. To sweeten the filling and makes it sticky.
- Neutral cooking oil. The mooncakes are aged for 3 days after baking to let the oil inside seeps out and infuses with the other layer of dough. This way, the texture becomes soft and moist. Without oil in the filling, you will end up with dry and hard mooncake skin.
- Sugar. To sweeten.
- Salt. To taste.
- Water. The filling will be way too crumbly and will fall apart without water. Once you add water, the filling will still be somewhat dry and slightly crumbly, but you should be able to squeeze everything together tightly and form a ball.
Special Equipment You Need
- Kitchen scale. Use weight measurement instead of volume measurement for the best result.
- Pastry brush. Use a pastry brush with soft bristles for brushing the egg wash thinly on top of the mooncakes. I don’t recommend using a silicone brush for making mooncakes.
- Mooncake mold. To shape the mooncakes. I use the small 50gr mold.
- Spray bottle. It is a must to mist the mooncakes with water first before baking. This will prevent the skin from cracking after baking.
- You can omit lye water. This recipe uses honey, which is not as acidic as golden syrup in most traditional mooncake recipes. So, you can omit the lye water. Please note that the mooncakes made without lye water will be paler in color.
- Rest the dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and rest for 1-2 hours. This helps to relax the gluten, making it more elastic. The longer the dough is rested, the easier it is to wrap the filling. Otherwise, you may find it easy to tear or crack.
- Dust the mooncakes with flour before shaping. This prevents them from sticking to the mold.
- Brush the egg wash thinly. Make sure to keep the egg wash thin to achieve a clear pattern. If you use too much egg wash, it will blur the pattern. To do this, use a pastry brush with soft bristles instead of a silicone brush. Clean the excess egg wash on the side of the bowl before brushing the mooncakes.
- Make the mooncakes in advance. The mooncakes need to rest for 2 to 3 days to let the skin soften before serving.
- Watch the tutorial video. Make sure you watch the video for a visual guide on how to make these Honey Pistachio Mooncakes.
Resting The Mooncakes
Freshly baked mooncakes are rather dry and hard after baking. They are best enjoyed 2 to 3 days later to soften the skin as the oil seeps out from the filling. Store the mooncakes in an airtight container in a single layer at room temperature.
More Chinese Recipes
- Red Date Walnut Candy
- Chinese Scallion Pancakes
- Walnut Stuffed Red Dates
- Red Bean and Sesame Rice Cakes
- Yang Chow Fried Rice