D’Art Chocolate moon cakes
Photo: Phuong Thuy
Tet Trung Thu, or the mid-autumn fest, will finally arrive this Sunday. Although known as a fest for children, the event is also drawing attention from many adults, as this is the time when people exchange boxes of moon cakes, showing gratitude to each other.
This year, for the first time, there has emerged a new hybrid between moon cake and cupcake, ice cream or chocolate, offering locals wider choices with products of new flavors made from out-of-the-box ideas.
In recent years, cupcakes have become a popular sweet beloved not only by kids and women, but also men. In the moon fest season, Cafeteria de L’Usine in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 has joined with the Bakery by Sweet + Sour to celebrate the spirit of this magical occasion with moon cake-inspired cupcakes.
“We came up with four moon cupcakes after having tried most of the moon cakes in the market,” said Tib Hoang at L’Usine.
Luna is a classic vanilla cupcake filled with a black sesame coulis and a dollop of fresh vanilla bean curd. Ruby is a red bean cupcake with a kumquat butter cream frosting. Lotus is a sesame and white lotus seed cake with a candied winter melon zest meringue and butter cream frosting. Finally, Jade is filled with a sweetened red bean surprise, topped with a green tea butter cream frosting.
Besides individual cupcakes served at the café, which are usually sold out before evening, L’Usine also offers a set of four moon cakes packed in a paper box at the price of VND250,000 (US$12.5).
Hoang said her customers include expats and locals, who buy boxes of cupcakes to bring to their office. So far more than 100 boxes of moon cupcakes have been sold.
Meanwhile, American ice-cream chain Baskin Robbins has introduced moon cakes with ice cream fillings inside, bringing some fresh breeze to the traditional market. Unusual flavors like Cherry Jubilee, Strawberry Cheesecake, Cotton Candy or Go Go Banana show a blend of the East and West and can lighten up anyone’s taste buds.
“Baskin Robbins Vietnam is the only country besides China to introduce ice cream moon cakes. However, I can assure you the shapes and colors are more beautiful as we have conducted thorough research and learned from our neighbor,” said Bich, at the Baskin Robin store on District 1’s Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street.
She said most teenagers prefer to buy a single moon cake and eat at the shop, as they can receive a free scoop of ice cream. On the other hand, the middle-aged choose to buy a box of two at VND400,000 (US$20) or VND760,000 (US$39).
Even though they have to be preserved at cold temperatures and need to be consumed in a short time period, these new moon cakes are selling out quickly, around 400 pieces a day, according to Bich.
For something more romantic, you can say it with chocolate as D’Art Chocolate has launched their limited Chocolate Moon Cake Collection. Using premium chocolate imported from Belgium, this collection features their classic recipes that create new taste sensations like Dulce De Leche Coffee Ganache, Strawberry Balsamic Buttre Ganache, and Mango Kaffir Lime.
There is a variety of choices, from mini-squared chocolate pieces for sampling to medium-sized moon cake-shaped pieces. Moon fest themed images imprinted on large pieces of chocolate also bring a seasonal feeling to receivers.
Thanh Loc at D’art Chocolate said many foreigners love the design ideas and flavors of their chocolate moon cakes, which can be found at their store on Nguyen Trai street, as well as An Nam Gourmet Market.
“Foreigners living in Vietnam hardly eat moon cakes as the sweets are packed with sugar. We want to make something different so they can enjoy the traditional festive treats,” he said.
More skeptical about this new type of moon cake, local buyers are often those who are open to something new and want their gifts to stand out.
“Vietnamese have a habit of gifting boxes of moon cakes they have been given. We often jokingly tell our customers that we hope their gift will be kept and eaten among the 10 moon cake boxes someone receives, as it’s not like any other nine,” said Loc.