Moon Cake (Easy)

September/October: Moon Festival/Mid-Autumn Festival

We timed our 20th wedding anniversary trip in 2016 to Taiwan and China around the Mid-Autumn Festival. Monica C., Islander’s former college roommate, said the weather is more pleasant that time of the year in Taiwan and we could celebrate fall together. At the time, she was teaching in Hualien and took us to see her university. She introduced us to her boss who offered us tea and a special snack—a rich pastry filled with red bean/black sesame/lotus seed paste surrounding an egg yolk inside to represent the moon. It was a hospitable gesture to us guests. When we proceeded to tour China with our group, we ended up in Suzhou at the time of the Harvest Moon date. Our tour guide, Kevin Y., gave us mini moon cakes to taste. We also saw them all over the Chinese cities we visited—at grocery stores, at the hotel lobbies and even at Starbucks!

We have eaten our fair share of moon cakes throughout the years in celebration of the Mid-Autumn festival. Whether they have egg yolk centers or not, are made with traditional flour dough or mochi (“snow skins”) and a variety of fillings (even savory ones), we always bought them at the store in pretty packages. They were quite expensive, and we often wondered how long ago they were made before they ended up for sale.  And sometimes we just didn’t like the filling combinations (our favorite is red bean without any egg yolks) that were available.

Fortunately, Islander’s ESL student from Taiwan, YaJu Y., gave her an easy recipe for a moon cake that she demonstrated at her children’s elementary school during the festival. Although not too traditional, these moon cakes are fairly easy to make, tastes great and are not overpriced. The dough is not as soft but has a nice mild crusty texture to offset the sweet red bean paste (from a can). YaJu free forms the dough into balls, but we had fun making these moon cakes together using a special mold with auspicious Chinese character imprints.

Have a happy harvest and make easy moon cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival.


(From YaJu Y.)


  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 can red bean paste
  • 1 egg beaten mixed with 1 teaspoon of water (egg wash)


In a large mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese with butter until soft and creamy.

Gradually add the flour until a sticky dough comes together. Roll out dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in 1/3 cup balls.

Roll and flatten the dough. Fill each with 2-3 tablespoons of red bean paste. Gather up the edges and pinch the seams to encase the filling. Roll on the surface to smooth it out.

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with foil and lightly misting it with cooking spray. In a lightly floured moon cake mold, place the filled dough inside, using fingers to spread the dough to the side edges of the mold. Press the mold onto the baking sheet and release.

Brush a little egg wash on top. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Serve with tea. Store leftovers in airtight container.


  • Islander’s Mommy used to make a Filipino version of moon cakes called hopia. Some Filipinos put ube (purple yam) or mung bean paste inside. It is similar to Taiwanese style moon cakes because of the proximity of the two countries.

  • For a sweeter crust, add 1-2 tablespoons sugar.

  • We bought our moon cake mold from Amazon.


Moon Landing Cake

July 20: National Moon Day

“Houston, we’ve had problems.”

Our blog post to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing (1969-2019) is late, the butter pecan boxed cake mix did not have actual nuts in it and the frosting nearly smeared the whole cake surface with crumbs! Despite these problems, and the fact that we have never baked and frosted a ball-shaped cake before, we think our mini moon cake turned out kind of cute (although it looks more like the fictional Star Wars planet Hoth or some sort of giant snowball-asteroid?).

We decided to make this moon cake centerpiece at the last minute for a small group gathering to celebrate National Moon Day and watch the TV specials together while eating moon-themed foods for dinner (moon drop grapes, Moon Pies, shrimp-flavored Full Moon chips, Moon Cheeses and basic chicken salad sandwiches on crescent-shaped bread). Our friends Karen and Ken B. also bought limited edition marshmallow moon Oreo cookies.

Nevertheless, everyone had a nice time celebrating the golden moments of the historical lunar landing, ate festive food and got the gist of our moon cake idea for National Moon Day.




Grease each half of a 3D ball/sphere baking pan set (such as Sunny Side Up Bakery brand or Wilton brand). Prepare cake mix according to the directions on the package. Divide the batter in two, filling each half of the pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or more until the middle of the cake is cooked all the way through. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

When the cake halves are cooled, slice the top of the mounds to level them. On one of the cake halves, slice a small piece off the bottom to level it so that the cake can sit on its own. Make the vanilla buttercream frosting and stir until it is a spreadable consistency. Use a thin layer of frosting to attach both halves together to make one whole sphere.

Smear a little frosting on the bottom of a cake board and stick the cake in place. Frost the cake (we were unable to make it smooth so we just spiked it by pulling our spatula up randomly from the frosting). Top with a tiny astronaut toy and U.S. flag toothpick. Refrigerate to set. Bring to room temperature before slicing and serving (with ice cream!).


  • Tint the frosting with a little black gel color/food paste to make the moon surface gray instead of white, if desired.
  • Thanks to fellow Star Wars fan/friend Justin Q. for gifting us with the 3D ball/sphere cake pan. He attempted to make a Death Star cake and had problems so he hoped we would have better luck making Hoth a moon landing cake.