Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chinese New Year - coming soon!

February 3 is Chinese New Year! 2011 is the year of the rabbit.  I ventured into China town yesterday to buy some baked breads and red envelopes.  Baked bread was for my dinner, and the red envelope is for Chinese New year!!  Who doesn't love red envelopes?  My little nephew has already planned what he wants to get with his Chinese New year loot!

Okay, back to the educational part of our post...

Chinese New Year is the celebration of a new lunar year. It is a fifteen day holiday that starts on the evening of the second new moon after the winter solstice. This is sometime in January or February each year. This holiday ends with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day.

In China, this holiday is also called Spring Festival 春节 Chun Jie since it marks the change in the weather from bitter cold to the coming of warmer weather.

Moon Cakes are eaten during Chinese New Year because the Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar (and the little treats look like the moon).  They are also eaten as part of an autumn, harvest type celebration which falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month (typically in September).

There are many variations of Chinese Moon cake - some have red bean paste, or lotus seed paste, eggs, a mixture of fruits and nuts...lots of options and room for creativity.  This one is simple for the kids to help with and is more dessert-like. 

thanks to Shirley for sharing the recipe and photos. 
Here's what  chinese moon cakes look like:

Here's what yours will look like:

and here's the recipe (makes 24).  Hope you make it and enjoy! 

Easy Chinese Moon Cake

1/4 cup sugar

2 egg yolks
1/2 cup salted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup strawberry (or your favorite) jam (traditionally red bean paste is used so if you want a more authentic version, you can use a can of red bean paste instead of the jam).
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Combine the butter, sugar and 1 egg yolk and stir.

Mix in the flour.
Form the dough into one large ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. 
Refrigerate dough for half an hour.

Unwrap the chilled dough and form small balls in the palms of your hand.

Make a hole with your thumb  in the center of each mooncake and fill with about half a teaspoon of jam.

Brush each cake with the other beaten egg yolk and place on a cookie sheet.  (We didn't have a brush to do this, so skipped the brushing step)

Bake for about 20 minutes or just until the outside edges are slightly brown.

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