Mini Egg Custard Moon Cakes @ The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong

Right when I thought I’ve eaten enough moon cakes for the year, another box arrived for me today.

This sturdy brown decagonal box had flown all the way into Borneo from The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong, just in time for the Mid-Autumn festival tonight! Much to the chagrin of my waist, my lips were etched into a grin as wide as The Cheshire Cat’s with my tastebuds leaping for joy! How could I reject these tiny babes from the much lauded bakery?

No, No, No! Diet will have to wait another day…

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The Peninsula Hotel’s Mini Egg Custard Mooncakes

Inside the decagon box are 2 layers of 4 mini moon cakes on plastic trays. Alas! They didn’t travel well…

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Minis on plastic tray

Broken pastry. *face-palm*

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Squashed mini resting in my palm

Tiny at only 40 grams, these broken babies still packed a punch!

Stop!

Don’t tell me these angelic babies in soft buttery pastry shells have the caloric value equivalent of one bowl of rice!

Hush! Ssshh… Don’t make me feel guilty by colluding my mind!

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Total Disintegration

I normally cut my moon cakes into eighths to share but seeing this moon cake is SO tiny, I went for the whole hog. And boy-oh-boy! This is one mean, rich, mini baby moon cake, I felt so stuffed after eating it. Taste-wise, it was delectably sweet custard with a tinge of the salted duck egg yolk, made from rich butter, coconut milk, eggs and condensed milk among the listed sinful ingredients on the packaging.

And how do we celebrate Mid-Autumn festival in the Boo, you ask? Well, we knocked off an hour early today, and besides that, I have nothing planned… I will need my ear-plugs because the neighbourhood will be erupting into fire-works late into the night… driving me bonkers and keeping me awake…

So I am definitely missing the spectacular Tai Hang Fire-dragon Dance in Hong Kong tonight. This is a festival that started all the way back in 1880 when Tai Hang was still a tiny Hakka fishing village near where Causeway Bay is now. I am also reminiscing the good old times when I had the privilege of being the first female dragon dancers in the troupe of over 300 performers by holding the pole which held the 67m long dragon made of 72,000 incense sticks. We were tasked to make the dragon come alive by waving and running with it. It was tough, the pole was heavy but a job well done! And I got a spot on TV! 5-second stardom! *sigh*

How does the Tai Hang Fire- Dragon Dance came about? I hear you ask.

Well, according to folklore, a few days before the Mid-Autumn Festival over a century ago, a typhoon, then a plague wreaked havoc on the village. While the villagers were repairing the damage, a python entered the village and ate all their livestock. Enough was enough, the villagers consulted a soothsayer who decreed that the only way to stop the chaos was to stage a fire dance for three days and nights during the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival. The villagers thus made a huge dragon of straw and covered it with incense sticks, which they then lit. Accompanied by drummers and erupting firecrackers, they danced for three days and three nights – and the plague disappeared.

If you are in Hong Kong (tonight or tomorrow night), do make an effort to see it. This smokey vibrant affair is China’s third national list of intangible cultural heritage!

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Fire Dragon in Tai Hang.
(Source: HK Tourist Association)

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival Everyone! xx

Canelés De La Luna @ Jean-Paul Hévin Chocolatier, Hong Kong

Jean-Paul Hévin is a Master Chocolatier and World Famous for his chocolates. Under the mentorship of chef Joël Robuchon in Paris, JPH received one of the top honors in France for artisan craftsmanship, the title of “Meilleur Ouvrier de France”.  I had walked past his counter boutique at Harbour City, countless times yet had never tried his creations. The formidable Mainland Chinese crowds bickering loudly in front of his counter full of delectable goodies (with their luggages in tow) made it rather intimidating for me.

With Mid-Autumn fast approaching (September 16), I saw an advert for Canelés De La Luna, part of his new Mid-Autumn creations to celebrate the festivity.

I love canelés and JPH is creating canelés!  Woohoo!

Seems that the stuffy French had caught on with Chinese festivities for a bang in the buck!  More appropriately the smell of money really do make the world go round and whatever intolerances nevertheless become slightly more tolerable when $$$ talks.  I also remember well when I was in Paris a few years ago, during the Lunar New Year whereby Galleries Lafayette gave an extra 10% discounts to all Chinese customers!

To cut the story short, I steeled myself and  literally fought to the front of the counter to be served.   JPH sells seriously high-end chocolates.  There is a choice of a box of 4 at $398 or a box of 8 at $768.   There are only 2 flavours available – citron and bergamot.

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Packaging of Canelés De La Luna

I was excited with the waft of heavenly chocolate aroma when I opened the box.

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Canelés De La Luna

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Box of 4 Canelés De La Luna

Excitedly, I cut opened one of the Canelés.  The excitement was short-lived…

Sure, JPH’s Canelés De La Luna has the right shape of a straight striated cylinder of a Canelés…

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Citron Canelés

Sure the dark glossy chocolate shell has the distinctive hallmark of a Master Chocolatier:  Exquisitely thin dark shell, cracking like an egg breaking when I cut it and the fragile chocolate shell literally melting to my touch, unfortunately, I could not discern any hint of citron or bergamot  flavours at all – despite me closing my eyes in deep concentration!

I love Canelés but this does not cut it.  This is an impostor!  I was  expecting a deliciously wholesome custardy goodness in a crunchy caramelised shell (possibly drenched in chocolalate).

In my opinion, this is simply a glorified Kellogg’s Rice Krispies!  Chocolate was first set in a Canelés mould then filled with ganache mousse in the first layer, followed by rice krispies and nuts in the center, then adding more ganache mousse before sealing the Canelés with chocolate.   Yes, each individual piece of rice crispy and nut has been premixed in chocolate  and were crunchy and very fresh, but at HKD100 per ‘Canale’!!   I think NOT!  Anyway, JPH is a chocolatier NOT a pastesserie!

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Cross-section of Canelés

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Bergamot Canelés

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Faux pax, a ‘hollow’ Canelés

I was  disappointed.  I was expecting a real Canelés but got a fine impostor instead!  I guess I have to travel to Bordeaux for my Canelés fix!