There is no shortage of variety when it comes to mooncakes here.
Every year, hotels, restaurants and bakeries up the ante with more daring flavours that continue to push the boundaries of gimmickry and innovation.
This year, mooncakes come in newfangled flavours that range from black garlic with custard, to root beer and tom yum, and ingredients such as sakura ebi. Once deemed novel, cheese mooncakes have become the norm. So, too, have alcohol- and fruit-based varieties, as well as ones that incorporate savoury ingredients, such as Iberico ham, pork floss and bak kwa. Molten centre lava mooncakes took off last year and remain popular this year.
Speciality mooncakes in various shapes from piglets to handcrafted bunnies also have their place in the market. Over the years, diners in Singapore have tucked into mooncakes in many shapes, from Angry Birds to those in the shape of buttocks.
Mooncakes are usually eaten to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Oct 4 this year.
Legend has it that the cakes were stuffed with secret messages to start a rebellion in China during the Yuan dynasty, when it was ruled by the Mongols. The patterns on the surface of the pastry also served as coded messages.
Mooncake sellers this year have also upped their game with more elaborate boxes. There are treasure chests with fancy floral motifs, luggage-style boxes with velvet lining, and even mirrored LED boxes with dazzling crystal ornaments.
Ms Fion Wong, 34, Regent Singapore's director of food and beverage, says: "The visual part is very important. People want something different and unique. More importantly, they also look at how the item can be reused for other functional purposes."
Indeed, mooncake boxes are often reused to store trinkets and other small items long after the festival is over.
Sales have not dampened despite the hazy economic outlook.
A check with 20 hotels and bakeries here found that the pace of sales this year is generally consistent with last year's, while some sellers report an increase of up to 20 per cent this year.
Prices of mooncakes, however, have increased slightly, by between 2 and 10 per cent, due to rising manpower costs and increased cost of ingredients such as lotus paste, sellers say.
Here is The Sunday Times' guide to newfangled offerings, novelty mooncakes and fancy packaging.
•Follow Rebecca Lynne Tan on Twitter @STrebeccatan
ROOT BEER, APPLE CIDER & PRICKLY PEAR WITH BERGAMOT SNOWSKIN MOONCAKES
What: New this year are the creamy root beer mooncakes which are made with vanilla and a hint of rum, and the mildly alcoholic vermilion-skinned apple cider mooncake with small chunks of apple. The refreshing pink prickly pear mooncakes are made with fruit of the cactus plant.
Where: Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Road
When: Till Oct 4
Price: $32 for two prickly pear mooncakes, $36 nett for two root beer or apple cider ones.
What: Shang Palace has created a new tangy yuzu mooncake with bird's nest. These mooncakes are part of its Mini Snow Skin Eight Treasures gift box, which also comes with chocolate salted toffee mooncakes.
Where: Shang Palace, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, 22 Orange Grove Road
When: Till Oct 4
Price: $88 for a box of eight mini mooncakes, four of each flavour.
What: Bakerzin has launched a Bold Collection of baked mooncakes with four exotic flavours: ginger, tom yum, American ginseng and sakura ebi. Each box comes with one of each flavour.
Where: Bakerzin outlets islandwide including Century Square, 2 Tampines Central 5, 01-19, tel: 6694-8584; United Square, 101 Thomson Road, 01-07, tel: 6251-5550; VivoCity, 1 Harbourfront Walk, 01-207, tel: 6438-8700; and Nom La La by Bakerzin, 9 Sentul Crescent, tel: 6385-0409. Also available at mooncake fairs including Takashimaya Square, 391A Orchard Road; and nex at Serangoon Central (from Thursday), and Tampines One (from Sept 22)
What: Feng Shui Inn's baked mooncake this year features house-aged organic Japanese black garlic blended with custard and white lotus paste. It is made with brown sugar instead of refined white sugar and contains 20 per cent less sugar than regular mooncakes.
What: Ollella, which specialises in French choux pastries, has created a range of bunny-shaped snowskin mooncakes. There are four bunnies and each has a different flavour - white peach champagne with a strawberry gelee centre; dark chocolate rum with almond crunch; mango white chocolate with a candied yuzu and ginger centre; and raspberry rose with a lychee centre.
What: This year, Peony Jade has created pink three-dimensional Pig-me-up snowskin mooncakes with lotus paste and egg yolk custard.
Where: Peony Jade, two outlets - Keppel Club, 10 Bukit Chermin Road, club lobby, tel: 6276-9138; Clarke Quay, 3A River Valley Road, 02-02, tel: 6338-0305; mooncake fairs, including Takashimaya Square, 391A Orchard Road; Chevron House, Raffles Place; and Tangs VivoCity, Central Court, 1 Harbourfront Walk
When: Till Oct 3 at Peony Jade restaurant outlets; till Oct 4 at various mooncake fairs Price: $42 for two, $72 for four
What: Cheesecake specialist Cat And The Fiddle has rolled out five mini cheesecake snowskin mooncakes, each embossed with a cat. Flavours are blueberry, strawberry, cookies and cream, chocolate and durian. Each box comes with a reusable glossy PVC tote bag. The charcoal skin durian mooncakes are sold separately as a set of eight, while the other flavours come in an assorted box of eight.
What: Tuck into mooncakes embossed with Sanrio's lazy egg yolk character Gudetama. A set of four mooncakes in different flavours, from black sesame to pandan lotus, comes in a novelty Gudetama-shaped tin. Each set also comes with a dining voucher for Gudetama Cafe Singapore.
Where: The mooncakes are available at Gudetama Cafe Singapore, Suntec City, 3 Temasek Boulevard, 01-361, tel: 6677-6195; Esso-Cheers petrol stations; Joe & Dough outlets, including Leisure Park Kallang, 5 Stadium Walk, 01-12, tel: 6348-2848; Income at Raffles, 16 Collyer Quay, 02-05, tel: 6438-2115; and Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Boulevard, 01-86, tel: 6337-0938; and The Soup Spoon outlets
What: Marvel Comic's superheroes Ironman and Spiderman are now on mooncake tins. The baked red bean paste and green tea Ironman mooncakes are embossed with an A, the symbol for the Avengers; while the baked egg custard Spiderman mooncakes are embossed with an image of Spiderman's web-shooting hand.
Where: Hong Kong MX Mooncakes, Takashimaya Square, B2, 391A Orchard Road
When: Till Oct 4, 10am to 9.30pm daily
Price: $65 for two Marvel tins - one Spiderman tin and one Ironman tin. Each tin comes with four mooncakes
What: Its elegant white box resembles a Chinese treasure chest. It has a gold lotus motif and is lined with blue velvet.
Aside from traditional lotus paste with yolks, baked mooncake options include lychee rose, brown sugar longan ginger tea and caramel lotus seed paste. Snowskin varieties include chewy cherry coconut, dark chocolate orange Grand Marnier and attap seed with yam.
Where: SweetSpot, Marina Bay Sands Hotel Lobby Tower 3, Bayfront Avenue
When: Till Oct 4. The shop opens from 7am to 10pm daily
Price: From $68+ for a box of eight snowskin mooncakes to $70+ for a box of four traditional mooncakes
What: Baked mooncakes come in an orange suitcase with brown trimming and gold hardware, complete with a luggage tag. Snowskin mooncakes come in a metal case.
Where: Crowne Plaza Changi Airport,75 Airport Boulevard, 01-01; and at various mooncake fairs from Sept 18, including Jurong Point, 1 Jurong West Central 2; Compass One, 1 Sengkang Square; Junction 8, 9 Bishan Place; and Tampines Mall, 4 Tampines Central 5
When: Till Oct 4, at the hotel; Sept 18 to Oct 3 at mooncake fairs
Price: From $70 nett for a box of four baked mooncakes
What: Yan Ting's Lavish Premium Gift Box set includes a baby blue chest adorned with flowers in hues of yellow, pink, red and white. Choose between baked and snowskin mooncakes, and either a half-bottle of Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut champagne with two flutes, or a teapot set with pu'er tea. Snowskin mooncake flavours this year include a reduced sugar green apple paste and champagne truffle with chocolate paste.
Where: The St Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Road. The mooncakes are available at Yan Ting, level 1 U, or La Patisserie, lobby level
When: Till Oct 4, 10am to 10pm daily
Price: The Lavish Premium Gift sets are priced from $148+
What: Cherry Garden's mooncake box looks like a miniature wooden wardrobe with cherry blossoms. Baked mooncake options include pandan with dried cherries and pistachio, and sea salt caramel with single yolk.
New snowskin flavours include a custard paste with rose petals and chestnut, and passionfruit with pistachio.
What: Mooncakes are packaged in individual tins and placed in a spice carrier-inspired box made of pine wood. Opt for baked mooncakes or new snowkin variants such as pineapple pink peppercorn and cinnamon red bean.
Where: Regent Singapore - A Four Seasons Hotel, 1 Cuscaden Road
When: Till Oct 4. Summer Palace, level 3 - noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm, daily; hotel lobby - 11am to 8.30pm, daily; Takashimaya Square, B2, 391A Orchard Road, 10am to 9.30pm daily
What: Baked mooncakes come in an LED mirror chest which instantly lights up when opened. Each box also comes with a choice of crystal brooches, including a pair of swans or a peacock in either blue or clear crystal.
Mooncake varieties include pure white lotus and a bamboo charcoal mooncake with dragonfruit and black sesame. Other flavours are sold out.
Where: Concorde Hotel Singapore, 100 Orchard Road
When: Till Oct 4. Collection is available from noon to 9pm daily
What: The restaurant has a new shimmery premium three-tiered gold treasure chest with a floral design. This box comes with four double yolk baked mooncakes.
Other mooncake varieties here include mini salted egg custard mooncakes with molten centres, and snowskin options such as mini green tea white lotus seed paste with passionfruit truffle.
Where: Sheraton Towers Singapore, 39 Scotts Road; Full Of Luck Club, Holland Village, 243 Holland Avenue; and various mooncake fairs including Takashimaya Square, 391A Orchard Road, and Raffles Xchange.
When: Till Oct 4. Li Bai - 11.30am to 10.30pm daily; hotel lobby, 11am to 9.30pm daily
Price: $98 for the three-tiered premium box with four double-yolk mooncakes. Prices for other mooncakes start at $60 a box.
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