September 9, 2021

Purple Sweet Potato Mooncake Filling Paste 紫蕃薯餡

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It's almost time for my favorite Chinese festival of the year, the Mid Autumn Festival 中秋節. Mooncakes, glowing lanterns, the full moon in the velvet sky, what's there not to like!  We're serious about our mooncakes in this household and every year will prepare one of our homemade mooncakes, choosing between fragrant Lotus Paste Double Yolk Mooncake, nutty Five Nuts Mooncake, delectable Black Sesame Walnut Mooncake, or the icily delicious Snow Skin Custard Mooncake.  

This year we wanted to try something different so we decided to try making mooncakes with both a new filling and skin.  To wrap the mooncake we chose to use the Chinese Flaky Pastry Dough that we wrote about recently.  There's a different way to the roll out the pastry dough that exposes the delicate layers in a flaky spiral.  So beautiful!  And for the mooncake filling, we experimented with this Chinese Purple Sweet Potato Mooncake Filling Paste 紫蕃薯餡 which, as it turns out, makes an amazing filling: lush and gorgeously purple hued, the sticky soft paste rich and deliciously sweet with a fragrant hint of cloves and nutmeg.  We stuffed our mooncakes with this yammilicious filling along with a hidden heart of soft and tender mochi.  Also note that not only is this filling for mooncakes but also for all other kinds of pastry, for example these Chinese Flaky Pastries.

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When I started considering alternative mooncake fillings I thought that it would be really cool to have a purple filling.  Purple is such a sexy color and it would be easy enough, I thought, to get that color from some purple tubers.  It turns out there are alot of different kinds of purple tubers.  There's the ube (also known as purple yam) and all different sorts of purple sweet potatoes.  These are all okay to use for this filling though the taste will vary a bit amongst them.  The important thing to remember is that the inside of the yam or potato should be purple.  Some are purple on the outside and not in the inside!


The flavor of the Indonesian purple sweet potatoes we ended up using was a happy surprise, sweet and yammy and somehow infused with hints of cloves and nutmeg.  So yummilicious!

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The prep is simple.  Wash, peel and slice.  Into the bamboo steamer and steam until soft.

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The gorgeous purple color deepens a bit after steaming, as you can see.

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OMgosh look at that gorgeous purple!!  Once steamed and softened the sweet potato is mashed.  Brown sugar and maltose sugar 麥芽糖 are added to the purple mash.  These two sugars will add a deep caramel, malty flavor to the paste.  Use a light brown sugar to avoid darkening the color of the paste.

Our tip for handling maltose sugar:  Maltose is sticky as heck and thicker than honey.  It's waay easier if you measure it by weight and avoid getting that stickiness out of 2 containers instead of one.  We've found the easiest (and least stickiest) way to get the maltose out of its jar is to pour in some icy cold water on top of maltose in the jar.  Then use your fingers to grab as much maltose as you need.  The ice water prevents it from sticking to your fingers.  Once you have enough maltose just pour out the water.


The last step is to cook the mash and sugars over a low heat, stirring until the potato mash reduces and thickens to a paste that doesn't stick to the sides of the pot.  This will take a wee bit of time and patience but the final gorgeously purple paste is well worth the effort.  The paste is left to cool and then weighed and rolled into balls, ready to fill the mooncake skins.  

Now that we've introduced this easy to make and super duper yummy Chinese Purple Sweet Potato Mooncake Filling Paste  紫蕃薯餡, our alternative mooncake filling paste, be sure to check out our soon upcoming post which will introduce the amazing Chinese Flaky Pastry Spiral Mooncake Skin that you can wrap it up in.  

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Chinese Purple Sweet Potato Filling Paste Recipe  紫蕃薯餡
(makes 3 cups filling, 900g)  Prep time: 3 mins  Cook time: 30 mins

21 oz purple sweet potatoes, 600g
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed, 300g
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp maltose sugar 麥芽糖, 150g

Wash sweet potatoes, then peel skin off.  Chop roughly into equal size pieces and steam for 15 mins or until soft all the way through.  

Put the sweet potatoes into a medium sized heavy bottomed pot and mash with a fork.  Add in brown sugar and maltose.  Cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally until the mash thickens.  At first it will be quite liquid but as it thickens you will need to start stirring and flipping constantly to avoid the bottom burning.  Do this until the mixture doesn't stick to the sides of the pot.  

Let cool and it's ready to use for filling mooncakes or pastry.  If not using right away it will keep in the fridge for a week.  Enjoy!

More Mooncake Madness at The Hong Kong Cookery:




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