Molten confections are, well, melting hearts here.
First, there were croissants filled with flavoured custards. Then came baked cheese tarts plump with cheese mousse.
Now, mooncakes are getting a molten makeover.
At least six bakeries and restaurants are rolling out baked and snowskin lava mooncakes filled with custard or cream.
Places selling molten mooncakes include The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore with its mini vanilla- perfumed salted egg yolk custard lava mooncakes.
Distributors are also bringing in mooncake brands such as Hong Kong Mei-Xin Mooncakes, with its lava custard and lava chocolate mooncakes, which are being sold at mooncake fairs here.
Warm them up and the fillings ooze out as you cut into them. Warming up baked mooncakes also produces a buttery aroma from the crust and softens it. Eat them chilled, however, and you can enjoy the filling as a thick custard.
Prices for mini molten mooncakes range from $33.80 for a box of four lava chocolate mooncakes from Hong Kong Mei-Xin Mooncakes to $72 for a box of eight mini custard lava with vanilla mooncakes from The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. These are about the same price or slightly more expensive than regular snowskin versions.
These mooncakes have come a long way from traditional baked ones filled with lotus paste and salted egg yolks that are eaten to commemorate the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, which is Sept 15 this year.
Many legends are associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival and one famous one says the Chinese hid secret messages in the mooncakes to instigate a rebellion against the Mongols in the 14th century.
French restaurant Antoinette has introduced three snowskin mooncakes which can be heated up to produce a molten effect, such as its snowskin mooncakes with salted egg yolk cream and ganache encapsulated in chocolate truffles.
Chef-owner Pang Kok Keong, 41, says he took a week to tweak and stabilise the ganache filling so that it will yield a "nice and flowy" texture when warmed up, while the mooncake skin becomes "mochi- like". Sales for the new snowskin mooncakes have been encouraging, with about 600 boxes sold since Aug 1.
Orders for them have made up 60 per cent of Antoinette's mooncake sales so far.
For Peony Jade Restaurant in Bukit Chermin Road and Clarke Quay, the baked molten matcha and salted egg yolk mooncake is one of the more popular mooncakes among the five new flavours launched this year.
About 400 sets of them have been sold daily since sales started earlier this month.
According to Mr Robert Han, 56, group general manager of The Quayside Group, which runs the restaurant, it is more challenging to make these mooncakes as the filling needs to be frozen and quickly rolled into the dough before being baked.
One of the first lava mooncakes to appear in Singapore is Hong Kong Mei-Xin Mooncakes; Singapore distributor Frosts Food and Beverage brought in the lava custard mooncakes last year and they sold out within a week. This year, Frosts Food will be bringing in chocolate lava mooncakes as well.
About half of the 10,000 boxes of lava mooncakes brought in this year have been sold since May.
Warm mooncakes without a flowing centre are hot, too, this year.
A La Bakery, a Hong Kong bakery started by Singapore-born media veteran Robert Chua, is debuting its mooncakes in Singapore at the Takashimaya mooncake fair. It is introducing three varieties of mini egg custard mooncakes, including those blended with salted duck egg yolks.
Even though these mooncakes do not have a molten centre, customers are encouraged to warm them up to accentuate the buttery aroma of the crust and to enhance the texture of the egg custard paste.
Prices of these mooncakes start at $16.50 for a mini salted egg custard mooncake, which may appear expensive, but most of its ingredients such as flour, butter, milk and Perrier mineral water are imported from France.
Mr Mario Wong, 36, managing director of Singapore distributor Curator Selects which is bringing in A La Bakery mooncakes, says using French ingredients gives the mooncakes a silkier texture and a more delicate crust.
About 1,000 mooncakes are flown in from Hong Kong every fortnight.
Customers are embracing the new-style mooncakes.
Housewife Evylin Tan, 40, who bought a box of mini salted egg custard mooncakes from A La Bakery, says: "Warming the mooncakes up is such a good idea as it brings out the fragrance of the mooncakes."
Molten and warm mooncakes
HONG KONG MEI-XIN MOONCAKES
What: The Hong Kong confection chain is offering two types of lava mooncakes - salted egg yolk custard and chocolate.
The bite-sized mooncakes have molten custard centres that ooze at room temperature.
The confectionery is also selling limited-edition Star Wars-themed lava mooncakes ($58 for two boxes) that are adorned with Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance motifs in Darth Vader and Stormtrooper tin boxes. These are sold only on Groupon.
How to heat: Five to eight seconds in a microwave oven.
Where: Nine mooncake fairs including at Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Takashimaya Square, B2; and Change Alley, ground level (both available till Sept 15)
Price: $33.80 for a box of four lava chocolate mooncakes; $53.50 for a box of eight lava custard mooncakes
Info: Call 6862-2166 or go to www.sgmeixin.com
THE RITZ-CARLTON, MILLENIA SINGAPORE
What: Inspired by the popularity of salted egg yolk pastries, the hotel's executive chef Massimo Pasquarelli came up with the Mini Custard Lava With Vanilla Mooncake. The baked golden pastry has salted egg yolk custard paste infused with Madagascar bourbon vanilla and Tahitian vanilla and comes with a molten centre at room temperature.
How to heat: Heat for five seconds in a microwave oven on low power, or in an oven for two minutes at 130 deg C.
Where: The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, Level 3; also sold at eight mooncake fairs including at Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Takashimaya Square, B2 (till Sept 15); and VivoCity Level 1 (till Sept 14)
Price: $72 for eight pieces
Info: Call 6434-5286 or go to www.rcmooncake.com.sg
What: Three of its five new snowskin mooncake flavours can be savoured warm. The most popular one has salted egg yolk cream in a white chocolate truffle shell buried in low-sugar lotus paste with charcoal snowskin. The others are chestnut lotus paste with white chocolate matcha truffle and white lotus paste with dark chocolate truffle. When warmed up, the chocolate truffle melts into the ganache or cream to give a gooey flow.
How to heat: 10 to 20 seconds in a microwave oven on high power.
Where: Three locations - 30 Penhas Road; Sofitel So Singapore, 35 Robinson Road, Lobby (available till Sept 15); and Tangs Orchard, Level 4 (till Sept 12)
Price: $54.50 for eight mini snowskin mooncakes
Info: Call 6293-3121 or go to www.antoinette.com.sg
PEONY JADE RESTAURANT
What: Peony Jade has more than 15 flavours of baked and snowskin mooncakes, but the highlight is the Baked Mini Mooncake With Molten Matcha & Salted Egg Yolk. The dark green mooncake is loaded with matcha-infused salted egg yolk custard, which gives a bittersweet taste. The skin is a cross between a baked skin and snow- skin and is softer and chewier than the baked varieties.
How to heat: About 10 seconds in the microwave oven on high power.
Where: Keppel Club, 10 Bukit Chermin Road, main club lobby; River Valley Road, Block 3A Clarke Quay 02-02; also sold at 10 mooncake fairs including at Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Takashimaya Square, B2, and Junction 8 atrium (from Aug 29 to Sept 15)
Price: $62 for eight pieces
Info: Call 6659-4159 or go to www.peonyjade.com
A LA BAKERY
What: Three types of mooncakes are on offer from this Hong Kong bakery - mini French egg custard mooncake, mini custard salted egg mooncake plus a version sprinkled with gold-coloured sugar. While the custard paste does not flow when warmed up, the heat brings out the buttery aroma of the crust and makes the fillings taste richer.
How to heat: 30 seconds in the microwave oven on high power or bake it in the oven for 10 minutes at 100 deg C.
Where: Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Takashimaya Square, B2 (till Sept 15)
Price: From $60 for a box of four mini French egg custard mooncakes
Info: Go to www.curatorselects.com
What: These Gateaux Blunes, which means moon cakes in French, feature a crust that is a cross between a biscuit and a cake and is based on a French recipe for pate sablee (French shortcrust pastry dough). This year, Patisserie G has added three new flavours including caramel bak kwa with cream cheese, and kaya pandan and cream cheese. When warmed up, the butter and vanilla notes become more pronounced, but the fillings remain as a paste.
How to heat: 10 to 20 seconds in a microwave oven on medium power, or four to five minutes in an oven at 180 deg C.
Where: Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Boulevard, 01-40 (available till Sept 15)
Price: $8 a piece or $64 for a box of eight
Info: Call 6338-7578 or go to patisserieg.com
One of the most unusual mooncake ingredients making its debut this year is chlorella, a freshwater green algae that is rich in chlorophyll, vitamins and protein.
Crystal Jade Culinary Concepts (all Crystal Jade restaurants, www.crystaljade.com) blends the powder into white lotus paste with melon seeds for one of the four flavours of its mini snowskin mooncakes ($50 for a box of eight).
The slight bitterness of the chlorella powder is offset by the sweet lotus paste.
Those who like it hot can go for the chilli truffle mooncake from Baker's Well (35 East Coast Road; Takashimaya Square; VivoCity; call 9731-2644).
Launched this year, the snowskin mooncake contains white lotus paste and a dark chocolate truffle seasoned with chilli powder that gives a stinging aftertaste.
A 30-year-old Hua Diao wine made from fermented rice is featured in a new snowskin mooncake flavour from Hua Ting Restaurant (Orchard Hotel Singapore lobby, 17 mooncake fairs including Raffles XChange and Waterway Point, both start tomorrow, call 6739-6577).
The Mini Blueberry With Vintage Hua Diao Wine ($68 for a box of eight) has sweet and tart blueberries soaked in the wine for at least four to five hours before they are studded in blueberry paste.
Honey is also making its way into mooncakes.
Shangri-La Hotel (22 Orange Grove Road, lobby; Takashimaya Square; VivoCity; call 6213-4511/4473 or go to www.slsfestive.oddle.me) has a series of four Honey Chocolate praline mooncakes ($88 for a box of eight) that are made with Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey.
Flavours include salted toffee and roasted Sicilian pistachio.
Each mooncake has a chocolate shell packed with mousse-like filling and a honey core.
Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel (320 Orchard Road, hotel entrance; VivoCity; Takashimaya Square; and Change Alley; call 6831-4708) has rolled out chocolate brownie with cookies and honeycomb snowskin mooncakes ($61 for eight pieces).
The white lotus paste is blended with chocolate brownie and ganache and comes with a gooey honeycomb centre.
New on Mandarin Orchard's (333 Orchard Road, hotel festive counter, level 1; Takashimaya Square, call 6831-6320/6262) mooncake menu is the Mini Snow Skin Salted Egg Custard with Manuka Honey Corn Mooncake ($65 for a box of eight) that has honey-infused corn bits studded in salted egg custard.
Baked mooncakes are also not missing out on the fun of quirky flavours.
The Pine Garden bakery (01-2369 and 01-2329, Block 529 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10; AMK Hub, 01-13; call 6457-6159, www.pgcake.com) combines two well-loved local flavours in its baked Coffee And Durian Mooncake ($13.70 each).
The mooncakes have durian paste nestled within coffee bean paste.
It also has a lemon and blood orange mooncake ($15.70 each), which has blood orange peels studded in lemon bean paste.
There is a 15 per cent discount for orders placed by Aug 28.
Old Seng Choong (Takashimaya Square; VivoCity, www.oldsengchoong.com) offers a red bean orange peel with yolk blend and pine nuts mooncake ($58 for a box of four).
It has a layer of blended salted egg yolk sandwiched in red bean paste with orange peel.
Besides coming in a pastry, mooncakes have also morphed into other forms.
One of them is Moon(Cup)cakes, a cupcake topped with a thin piece of baked mooncake skin.
Inspired by flavours of snowskin mooncakes, Mr Samuel Chan, 30, owner of online bakery, Sam's Cakes and Bakes (www.sams-cakes.com), has come up with two flavours ($35 for six pieces for each flavour) - a salted egg yolk cupcake with a centre of white lotus paste and a matcha cupcake with red bean paste.
Those who are tired of pastry- filled mooncakes can opt for a light version called Quartz, which is made from water chestnut jelly ($10 a piece) and comes packed with lotus or yam paste from Make A Difference Bistro (MAD Museum of Art & Design, 10 Tanglin Road, 01-01, call 6734-5688).
The bistro also has miniature versions called Jade Mooncakes ($15 for a box of four), which come in flavours such as pandan-flavoured jelly cake with yam paste, and blue peaflower-hued jelly cake with water chestnut bits.
Correction note: A previous version of this story said $53.50 was the price of a box of four lava custard mooncakes from Hong Kong Mei-Xin Mooncakes. However, $53.50 is the price for a box of eight lava custard mooncakes. We are sorry for the error.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 21, 2016, with the headline Liquid goodness: Mooncakes get molten makeover. Subscribe