When chocolatier Wendy Lieu determined she needed to pay homage to the Mid-Autumn Pageant, she knew she needed to infuse the style of mooncakes, that vacation mainstay, into a fragile chocolate shell.
Throughout many Asian international locations, the Mid-Autumn Pageant is among the many most necessary holidays of the 12 months, with households gathering collectively to rejoice the harvest moon. The competition’s emblematic deal with is a candy spherical pastry, generally stuffed with the long-lasting mixture of lotus seed paste and salted duck-egg yolks. The desserts are exchanged, admired for his or her designs, then loved with family members, and Lieu’s Vietnamese household was no exception. “As a toddler, my favourite a part of mooncakes had been the egg yolks—some had double yolks,” she remembers. “I keep in mind slicing them open, consuming the yolk, and giving the remaining portion to my mother and father.”
However how you can ship the flavors, texture, and signature salted-egg-yolk heart in a sublime, bite-sized connoisseur truffle? Not surprisingly, the co-owner of San Francisco’s Socola Sweets couldn’t find anybody else who had achieved, and even tried, this transformation.
This wasn’t Lieu’s first time making an attempt a brand new twist on a nostalgic meals—she had beforehand included the essences of durian, Vietnamese espresso, and even Phở, all beloved flavors in her tradition, into her goodies. (Socola, in spite of everything, is the Vietnamese phrase for chocolate.) Nonetheless, mooncakes posed distinctive challenges. The hearty treats are baked, whereas goodies aren’t, so one hurdle was attaining the right consistency in a lotus seed paste, probably the most standard fillings amongst mooncake lovers. After some experimentation, the chocolatier found the perfect strategy: soaking the lotus seeds, eradicating the tiny sprouts by hand, pressure-cooking them, mashing them right into a paste, and—right here’s the important thing—including white chocolate into the filling.
As a result of Lieu envisioned clients delicately slicing her mooncake goodies in half to disclose the tiny golden orbs inside, the salted egg yolks needed to maintain their form. She discovered that she wanted to bury the yolks in salt and allow them to set for a month within the fridge earlier than gently washing and baking them, then slicing them into diminutive balls. This prolonged course of made certain they didn’t ooze into the filling.
Along with the standard filling, Lieu additionally created mooncake goodies starring ube, black sesame, and jasmine tea, topped with coloured splatters to match their defining ingredient.
The mooncake goodies are the cherry on prime of what has been a full-circle entrepreneurial journey for Lieu, who launched Socola Sweets along with her sister Susan again after they had been youngsters rising up in Santa Rosa, California. After faculty, the siblings would go to the nail salon their mother and father owned and go to the neighboring See’s Candies store without spending a dime samples. These See’s goodies, which Lieu discovered to be overly candy, impressed her to experiment with creating her personal. She infused them with substances emblematic of her Vietnamese heritage—all the things from sriracha and passionfruit to guava and cognac. When her clients tasted her chocolate truffles imbued with these basic flavors, the treats spurred long-forgotten recollections. “It actually opened up conversations about Saigon, again within the day,” she remembers.
The mooncake goodies, Lieu says, are one other homage to her tradition. “I’ve so many recollections of cracking open a tin, fastidiously slicing up every mooncake into particular person bite-sized items, and sharing with household and buddies.”