Milk Tea Snow Skin Mooncakes

A few years ago, I wanted to make snow skin mooncakes, but I did not have the molds for those. The difference between a snow skin mooncake and the traditional mooncake is that the snow skin ones are made with mochi as the wrapper, whereas the traditional mooncakes are baked pastries. While I did not have the molds to make snow skin ones, I DID, however, have wooden mooncake paddles, so I stupidly thought that I could just press snow skin mooncakes into the paddles. That decision cost me a lot of money, ingredients, and time. I spent 2 hours using a toothpick to scrape out the residual pieces of snow skin mooncake from the tiny grooves in the mooncake paddles. So needless to say, I learned my lesson. Fastforward two years, and I was pre-emptive enough to buy snow skin mooncake molds, and I actually went ahead and made some for this year! Last year, I made traditional baked mooncakes featuring purple yam. This year, since it is my first time (successfully) making snow skin mooncakes, I went with a simpler flavor, going with a milk tea custard, and then the mochi wrappers around it. I did dye the wrapper two colors, one being orange, and another being purple, just to give them a more autumnal dusk into night aesthetic!

I will say compared to normal mochi, these mooncakes used a little oil in them, which helps them retain moisture easier, as well as keeps the mochi from going sticky when pressing it with the mooncake molds. For the filling, I went with custard, since that just sounded more like a fun time! I used assam black tea, which I have seen in boba shops more recently, to give the custard a rich, milk tea flavor profile! Compared to your usual pastry cream, mooncake custard has a higher concentration of cornstarch and flour, resulting in a pastier, thicker custard. Luckily, this works perfectly as a filling for something as soft as mochi, since when you are using mochi as a wrapper, you want whatever you are wrapping around it to be firmer than the mochi itself – mochi is soft and delicate, and is subject to tearing easily, so if the filling is on the liquidy side, you end up with a mess. This kind of custard, and maybe a custard that is frozen solid, are probably the only two instances I can think of where custard can be used as a mochi filling without the mochi busting open. That mochi and custard-speckled tangent aside, this was definitely a fun learning experience and I can’t wait to try more snow skin mooncake recipes!

For the custard:
1/2 cup milk, in two parts
2 assam tea bags
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a pot, heat up half of the milk with the tea bags on medium heat. In another bowl, mix together the cornstarch with the rest of the milk first. Then add to that the other ingredients, sans butter and vanilla. Strain the tea bags out the pot and pour that into the bowl with the other ingredients. Whisk to combine, then pour back into the pot, whisking everything on low heat until thickened and combined. Whisk in the butter and vanilla to finish, then pour into a shallow surface. Press cling wrap against the custard of the custard and then refrigerate until firm. Portion into 4 balls.

For the skins:
1/2 cup mochiko flour
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp canola oil

Mix everything together to form your batter. Pour into a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap, poking holes into the top. Microwave the mixture for 1 minute, then stir. Return to the microwave and cook for another 2 minutes.

To assemble:
Cornstarch or potato starch

Pour the cooked skin mixture, while still warm, onto a nonstick surface lined with cornstarch or potato starch. Knead until smooth. I dyed half of the dough orange using beetroot powder and turmeric powder, and the other half purple using purple yam powder. Swirl your two doughs together and portion them out into 4 pieces, rolling each out to thin disks. Divide your custard into 4 pieces and wrap each one in the mochi skins. Dust with more cornstarch and press into the snow skin mooncake molds(DO NOT use a mooncake paddle, as those will not work with snow skin mooncakes). Serve within a week, and store in an airtight container, refrigerated, until then.

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