Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is the second most celebrated Chinese holiday, falling on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the Chinese lunar calendar. This is the date of the Autumn Equinox, when the moon is at its farthest point from the earth and appears to be at its fullest and brightest. In China, a full moon represents happiness, prosperity and families reuniting.
Mooncakes are very popular at this time and are given to one another as gifts. They are definitely an acquired taste and not my personal favorite, but they are exquisite works of art. They probably aren’t the kind of baking I want to try because of how involved they are (and because no one in my family cares for the flavor), but when I found wooden moon cookie molds, I felt like I hit the jackpot! It’s the perfect baking compromise for our family to celebrate the holiday and still incorporate our children’s birth heritage into our family.
I made them with a basic shortbread cookie recipe that I have posted below.
Basic Shortbread Cookie
(adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 1/3 cup butter (2 sticks plus 6 tbsp)
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
Sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the salt and vanilla extract, beat to combine. Add in the flour, 1 cup at a time, beating on a lower speed until combined.
To make the cookies, I rolled 1-inch balls from the dough, and then lightly tapped one side of the dough ball in flour (to prevent sticking in the mold). After that, I pushed the dough into the wooden moon cookie mold. Two whacks on the counter popped the cookies out of the mold, and then I placed them onto a Pampered Chef baking stone.
I repeated this process for all of the dough, which made about 30 cookies. It went surprisingly quickly and didn’t take as long as I thought it would. I baked the cookies for 70 minutes. Since these cookies are baked at a very low temperature, 70 minutes was the perfect amount of time using the baking stones.
As soon as I pulled them out of the oven, I sprinkled them with some white sugar cookie sprinkles, but I’m sure granulated sugar would work just fine if that’s what you have.
I will absolutely be making these again for this Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. They are the perfect alternative to mooncakes for our family, and they came together pretty quickly. I’m sure it would be fun to sprinkle different colored sugar on them too!
They keep for a long time – up to a month! – and actually taste better with age. You’ll need the wooden moon cookie molds from the Wokshop (they have other beautiful designs as well), but they are reasonably priced and were delivered quickly. I highly recommend their shop.
Zhōng qiū jié kuài lè! Happy Moon Festival!