Posts tagged nuts
Honey Salted Peanut Mooncakes
Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food

Friday is the Mid-Autumn Festival! The Mid-Autumn festival is probably the second most important holiday on the Chinese calendar, right behind Chinese New Year. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve actually been home to celebrate with my family, but every year we would gather at my grandparents’ house, eat dinner, split some mooncakes, and go stand outside in my grandma’s garden to stare at the moon while eating taro. Despite the name Mid-Autumn Festival, it actually occurs at the beginning of Fall, when the seasons are changing and a new harvest is about to start. It you want to get technical, the Mid-Autumn Festival happens every year on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Lunar Calendar. I had to remind my mom this morning that it’s this Friday lol

My grandma grew up in a farming family in China, which you can definitely tell when you look at her garden. So I could imagine how important this tradition would be to her family and the community she grew up in. Farming families would offer things like mooncakes, fruit, and taro to the Moon to ensure a prosperous and bountiful harvest in the upcoming season. Mooncakes are typically incredibly dense. I think if you ate a whole one on your own you would get sick! You would cut up the mooncake into little wedges and split them amongst your family! I love this sweet little tradition. I also like that I can take little wedges and sample all the different flavors! My favorite flavor by far is white lotus with a salted egg yolk. It’s a classic. Some other favorites are red bean, black sesame, mixed nuts, and the ever elusive mixed nut and ham flavor! I recently tried a winter melon mooncake when I was home a few weeks ago and I was not a fan…

Chinese people almost never make their own mooncakes. Baking is not very common in traditional Chinese households and they rarely ever use their ovens. I don’t think my grandma has ever turned her’s on. Up until this year, I had only ever bought my mooncakes from the store. Then I finally mustered the energy to order some mooncake molds and try my hand at making mooncakes! The first time I made them it was sort of disaster. My filling was too loose and everything got too soft and goopy. NOT GOOD. I learned from my mistakes and pushed through. Thankfully, all my trials afterwards were actually super easy! I’ll go into detail about how I made these Honey Salted Peanut Mooncakes below! The filling is not traditional but inspired by the mixed nut variety of mooncakes. Somehow these Honey Salted Peanut Mooncakes ended up tasting like the best peanut butter cookie I’ve ever had! It made me so happy!

Before you panic, there is still plenty of time for you to go out to your local asian market to buy a fancy tin of mooncakes or to make your own!

Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food
Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food
Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food
Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food
Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food

Special Equipment for Mooncakes

I’m going to be honest with you, there are a few special ingredients and tools that you need to make mooncakes. I know it seems like a lot when this is something you’re only going to make once a year, but I think it’s worth it!

Mooncake Molds - this is the set that I bought, but you can use whatever pattern you like!

*** if you really don’t want to use a mooncake mold you could form them into little pigs like I did!

Golden Syrup

Alkaline Water

you could make your own golden syrup and alkaline water from scratch, but I really didn’t want to mess with the chemistry of these ingredients, so I just ordered everything online and made my life so much easier.

Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food
Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food
Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food
Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food

How to Make Cantonese Baked Mooncakes

Once you have all your special tools and ingredients in hand, you’re ready to make mooncakes! I just wanted to note this method is for traditional Cantonese baked mooncakes. There are a few other variety of mooncakes out there, one being more like a mochi and another that has a flakey pastry like crust.

To make the dough of the mooncake, you combine flour, golden syrup, alkaline water, and olive oil in a large bowl. Stir everything together until you have shaggy dough. Then begin kneading with your hands for a few minutes until you have a smooth dough ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest and hydrate for at least 45 minutes. This rest period makes the dough much easier to work with.

While the dough is resting make your filling. If your peanuts are not already roasted, roasted them in the oven or in a skillet until toasty and fragrant. Watch the peanuts carefully as they have a tendency to burn easily when you’re not paying attention. Allow the peanuts to completely cool before processing them.

Place the peanuts in a food processor and blend for a few seconds until you have a coarse crumb texture. Add the honey, coconut oil, and salt. If you only have salted peanuts just taste the filling before adding any additional salt. Blend again until you have a fine crumbly texture and the filling sticks together if you apply pressure. It’s important that the mooncake filling is fairly firm so it’s easier to work with.

Now that the filling and dough has been made, it’s time to form the mooncakes! Divide the dough into 12 equal parts. Roll the dough portion into a ball and then flatten the dough with the palm of your hand. Roll out the dough into 3.5”ish circle. Scoop out 1.5 tablespoons of the peanut filling and roll it into a ball, pressing firmly so it stays together. Place the filling in the center of the dough round. Fold the dough around the filling. The dough won’t initially cover all of the filling. Just pinch the dough until it completely wraps the filling. Lightly dust the round mooncake in flour and place in a mooncake mold. Apply pressure to your mooncake mold using the plunger to form the mooncake into the desired pattern. Gently release and place mooncake on a baking tray lined with parchment or a silpat. Then repeat with the remaining mooncakes. Place the mooncakes so that there is about 1.5” in between them.

Bake mooncakes for 8 minutes in a 350 degree oven and remove from the oven to cool for 10 minutes. Mix together egg wash and brush the mooncakes with egg wash, making sure to brush all edges. Using a bristled pastry brush works best. The silicone brushes take on too much egg wash and messes up the mooncake patterns. Bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the mooncakes to completely cool. Once cooled, place in an airtight container for 1-2 day to allow the exterior dough to soften. Then they are ready to enjoy!

Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food
Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food
Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food
Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food

How to Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival

The idea of making mooncakes at home might seem daunting, but I swear that once you get the hang of the mooncake press it’s actually pretty easy! The filling literally couldn’t be easier if you have access to a food processor. Again, these tastes like the best peanut butter cookies on the plant. The exterior of the mooncakes soften after a few days and the filling stays soft and gooey - almost candy bar like - after baking. My mom gave me the great of idea of using pistachios next year!!!!! It sounds soooooooo good, I might not be able to wait until next year to try making one.

I hope you give making your own mooncakes a try! It’s so satisfying to bake them and share them with your family. No shame in buying the ones out of the fancy tins though. The important thing this weekend is spending time with your loved ones over some good food, splitting a mooncake cake, and admiring the moon.

So do these things for me on Friday night:

  1. Invite your family and/or friends over for dinner. If your family is far away, give them a call!

  2. Cook a feast or order a feast from your favorite Chinese restaurant.

  3. Cut your mooncakes into little wedges and savor them.

  4. Step outside and admire the beauty of the full moon.

  5. Feel hopefully for a great new season!

Honey Salted Peanut Mooncake Recipe - Eat Cho Food

Honey Salted Peanut Mooncakes

makes 12 small mooncakes

dough materials:

1/2 cup golden syrup
1 tsp alkaline water
4 tbsp olive oil
2 cups all purpose flour

honey salted peanut filling:

1 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp salt

egg wash - 1 egg + 2 tbsp water

steps:

  1. Add all the dough materials into a large bowl. Mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula until you have a shaggy dough. Begin kneading with your hands. Knead for a 2-3 minutes, until you have a smooth and cohesive dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 45 minutes.

  2. While the dough is resting, make your filling. Add peanuts to a food processor and blend for a few seconds until you have a course chopped texture. Add honey, coconut oil, and salt. Blend again for 10-15 more. The peanut filling should be able to stick together when pressed together. Set filling aside until ready to form moon cakes.

  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  4. Unwrap the dough and divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Use a digital scale if necessary. Roll out 1 piece of dough into a 3.5” diameter circle. Roll up 1.5 tbsp of peanut into a ball and place in the center of the dough round. Fold the dough around the filling. The dough won’t initially cover all of the filling. Just pinch the dough until it completely wraps the filling.

  5. Lightly dust the round mooncake in flour and place in a mooncake mold. Apply pressure to your mooncake mold to form the mooncake into the desired pattern. Gently release and place mooncake on a baking tray lined with parchment or a silpat. Repeat steps 3-4 for remaining mooncakes.

  6. Bake mooncakes for 8 minutes and remove from the oven to cool for 10 minutes. Mix together egg wash and brush the mooncakes with egg wash, making sure to brush all edges. Bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the mooncakes to completely cool. Once cooled, place in an airtight container for 1-2 day to allow the exterior dough to soften.

  7. Enjoy!

the mooncake dough recipe was adapted from this recipe from Two Red Bowls!

White Chocolate and Spiced Pistachio Butter Cups
White Chocolate and Spiced Pistachio Butter Cups
White Chocolate and Spiced Pistachio Butter Cups
White Chocolate and Spiced Pistachio Butter Cups
White Chocolate and Spiced Pistachio Butter Cups
White Chocolate and Spiced Pistachio Butter Cups

There is something about this time of year that makes me feel like the laziest potato. Maybe because it’s still dark and foggy when I wake up, or the days are getting shorter and shorter, or maybe it is the fact that we have a new comfy couch that feels like it’s constantly hugging you. Whatever it is, my desire to sit around all day being a blanket burrito watching 90 Day Fiancé for hours on end is at an all time high. Have you watched that show by the way? Or 90 Day Fiancé Before the 90 Days?! It is the trashiest of trashy TV but we’re currently obsessed but also thankful that we met in a totally normal and boring way.

If you couldn’t already guess after my declaration of laziness, we do not have any Halloween plans. If anything, I’ll dress up as a nigiri again for work so I don’t get judged for not dressing up. Halloween has always sort of been my least favorite holiday. Is Halloween a holiday? If it’s your favorite day of the year then I’m happy for you! I hope you win the costume contest! For me, Halloween feels like a milestone in the year that we just need to get past so that we can get to the good stuff. THANKSGIVING! CHRISTMAS! Maybe Hanukkah this year! But those are the holidays that really make my heart skip a beat.

What I do like about Halloween, other than cute baby costumes, is the candy! Throughout the majority of year I rarely ever indulge in true candy. Yes, I have plenty of cake and baked goods. But there’s almost never a Snickers or bag of Skittles in our apartment. But during Halloween, I can’t help myself when there is a giant plastic cauldron overflowing with sugar sitting in the kitchen at work. I go straight for the Crunch Bars and Cookies N’ Creme Bars. They’ve always been my favorite since I was little, especially the Cookies N’ Creme! If my entire halloween haul was made up of white chocolate goodies I would have been the happiest culturally inaccurate Pocahontas in all of Cleveland! It’s no secret that I’m a white chocolate fan. I’ve gone through my entire life with people telling me that it’s not real chocolate. I hear ya. But it’s just so good and creamy. I’ll be Team White Chocolate for as long as people continue to talk trash about it… which will be forever I’m sure.

These white chocolate and spiced pistachio butter cups would have sent me over the moon if one of the fancy houses in the neighborhood were handing them out. I guess you’re not supposed to eat unwrapped candy… BUT the point is that these candies are such a good treat! And sort of bougie (looking), despite the fact that they don’t take much effort to whip together. That’s the magic of crumbled pistachios. You can use store bought pistachio butter or any other nut butter you like instead of making your own. The additional spices makes it feel V autumnal and cozy. They also freeze super well and can be kept on hand for whenever you feel like transforming into a blanket burrito watching trashy tv snacking on a sweet treat. Hmmmmm how can I make that into a Halloween costume?


White Chocolate and Spiced Pistachio Butter Cups

makes about 12 candies

materials:

1 cup roasted unsalted pistachios *
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin spice (1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and a heavy dash of cloves)
16 oz white chocolate chips
3 tbsp coconut oil

* if you can only find salted pistachio, just don’t add the extra salt and add a teensy bit more honey. Adjust according to taste.

steps:

  1. Place pistachios in a food processor. Pulse for 30 seconds until you have fine crumble. Take out 2 tbsp of pistachios and set aside for your topping. Add in salt and pumpkin spice. Continue to blend for 5-7 minutes. Slowly add in honey and olive oil while blending until smooth. Set pistachio butter aside.

  2. Melt white chocolate and coconut oil over a double boiler or in the microwave. If melting in the microwave, microwave in 20 second increments and mix in between until melty. This will prevent the chocolate from burning. Allow chocolate to slightly cool for a few minutes.

  3. Line a muffin pan with ridged liners. Add in a tablespoon of white chocolate into the liners. Then plop in about 1 tsp of pistachio butter and then fill with more white chocolate until completely covered. Sprinkle a bit of crushed pistachios on top. Place in the freezer until set and enjoy!

Honey Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting + Birthday Picnic Scenes
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Heeeeeeyyyy! It's August already?! Where did the summer go?!

I'm finally recovering from eating cheese and cake for a whole week. Aren't birthdays great? I don't know if I could have asked for a better birthday week. Having the Cho Family close by would have been nice! Despite some minor homesickness, years 26 and 30 are starting out pretty great. There was the aforementioned cake and cheese, seeing and hearing from friends around the globe, and guess what?! Reuben finally passed ALL his architecture exams!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think that deserves another cake right? 😁 I'm so freaking proud of him. He knocked out all 7 tests (without failing a single one) in 1 year. That man is dedicated. I also like to think I played a hand in this by supporting him with study snacks. I think in a few weeks he's going to technically be a real licensed architect in Pennsylvania and get a fancy stamp. Woooo! His craft beer intake has spiked a little... you should see how beautiful our recycling bin is.

How great of a birthday present is having your best friend in town?! Katie flew in from Seattle for our birthday picnic and I wish she stayed forever. It was so great to have her in town to catch up on life, discuss how great groomsmaids/best-humans we are going to be for Jeff next May, figure out what our dog breed look-a-like is (Reuben is a sheep dog), and just run around being silly. She also made an awesome kitchen assistant and guest photographer. Working on these recipes can get pretty lonely, other than the occasional visit from Reuben to steal bites of food or when I royally screw up something and need his advice. She helped me make this INCREDIBLE CAKE (more about it soon) and assemble my first legit cheese board. We lounged on picnic blankets in the fog snacking on fruit, eating multiple small slices of cake, and chatting with all the characters we know in SF. The next day we drove down south to Pescadero Beach to be really Californian. It was so hot and sunny! I'm not used to that. We wandered around the tide pools and looked for agates, of course. I feel like I forget that I live in California until I go to the beach. We also went to go see a giant redwood tree as old as Jesus. Miss you Katie!

I'm going to talk about this cheese board for a hot sec. I've always wanted to put together a gorgeous and bountiful cheese board. It turns out that it is actually pretty easy if you have access to some beautiful fruit. My cheese board is pretty fruit heavy, which is how I like it. Color is super important to me, so we were trying to pick out fruit that complimented each other. Color Theory! I also like to have a mix of cheeses, something hard (asiago), something soft and creamy (goat brie), something mild (gouda), and something funky (blue cheese... even though I hate blue cheese). You gotta hit all the notes. I thought that the board turned out pretty beautiful, if I do say so myself 😎.  Someone else thought it was pretty beautiful too, because I was asked to make a cheese board for another birthday party! My very first commissioned cheese board! I'm thinking of making #chocheeseboard a thing. If you're in the Bay Area and need fancy cheese and crackers for an event, hit me up!

Alright, cake. A few weeks ago when I posted the Black Sesame Plum Crumb Cake, I said that this may have been the best thing I have ever baked. That cake is pretty damn good, but this cake is amazing. I blame it on the cream cheese frosting. Idk if I could trust anyone who doesn't love cream cheese frosting. We may or may not have continued licking the bowl post assembly... This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Best Birthday Cake recipe. I love her recipe and pretty much always gravitates towards it when I need a great yellow cake. I reduced the sugar by half and made an addition of honey for flavor. You could easily make this into a layer cake or even cupcakes, but I think I have fallen in love with sheet cakes. They are so easy! Less mess, no crumb coats, they feed a ton of people, and still look equally as pretty! Actually, I've always loved sheet cakes. My parents would always get us a big sheet cake from Giant Eagle for our birthdays growing up and they were the BEST. Northern Ohioans and Western Pennsylvanians will agree with me. 

So many people loved this cake at the picnic. If you have a birthday coming up or a celebration in need of cake, I highly recommend you make this. Everyone is going to love you and you're going to be so happy! I'm actually making this cake again today for a dinner party per a special request!

Happy Sunday!


Honey Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

makes 1 - 9"x13" sheet cake

Cake:

4 C cake flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 sticks (16 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened

1 C white sugar

1/2 C honey

2 tsp vanilla

4 eggs

2 C buttermilk 

1/4 C crushed pistachios 

 

Cream Cheese Frosting:

6 tbsp butter, softened

12 oz cream cheese, softened

2.5 C powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt 

Steps:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 9" x 13" sheet pan with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add in vanilla and honey, mix for a few more seconds. Add your eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated each time. Reduce the speed to low and add in the buttermilk. The batter will look curdled and gross, but don't freak out! Everything is going to be okay. Gradually add your flour mixture in batches. Mix until evenly incorporated. Scrape down the sides as needed.

4. Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula. To get rid of any air bubbles, drop the pan about 2" above the counter a few times.

5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and the center comes out clean when poked with a tooth pick.

6. Once done, allow to cook in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove cake from the pan and allow to completely cool on a wire rack.

7. While the cake bakes or while it cools, make your cream cheese frosting. Beat together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 30-45 seconds. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat for another 1-2 minutes. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt and mix for another minute. The frosting will be a little loose, so place in fridge for 30 minutes to allow frosting to set up.

8. Frost cake with a thick layer of frosting and top with crushed pistachios. Or sprinkles! Or whatever your heart desires!