Mooncake Cupcakes (Bean Paste Filled Cupcakes with Date-Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting)57

Posted by chockylit in Asian-Inspired,Beans,Cheese,Experimental Recipe,Other Fruits,Step-by-Step Photos (Sunday September 24, 2006 at 12:12 pm)

mooncake cupcakes

I had my first mooncake this week – a dough covered, red bean paste filled sweet, purchased and exchanged during the mid-autumn moon festival which is being celebrated this weekend in San Francisco.

I have been prodded in the past to try something with red bean paste and have enjoyed other desserts made with the filling. So, it seemed like a perfect time to try it out. Red bean paste is sweet and earthy with a distinct “beanie” flavor, a good match for cupcakes.

I researched bean paste recipes and they all basically involved soaking, boiling, pureeing, and cooking the paste with sugar and oil. I cut back significantly on the amount of sugar and oil and liked the end result although it was less sweet and less thick than the commercial products I have tasted.

I stuck to a basic cupcake base, filled each with paste, baked them, topped them with a yummy date-pineapple cream cheese frosting and dipped each in lightly salted sesame seeds. The end result was delicious. Sweet, but a touch salty and the bean and sesame flavors shown through.

I also wanted to point out the addition of a new page on the right, baking basics & troubleshooting. Folks new to baking should definitely give it a read. And if any of you experienced folks have anything to add, please do!

Red Bean Paste

1-1/4 cups red adzuki beans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar

1. Cover beans in cold water and soak uncovered, overnight.
2. Drain, transfer back to the pot and cover in 5 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
3. Drain and puree with a hand blender or in a food processor.
4. Press through a metal sieve. Note: This is time consuming work. The pureed beans become a thick paste and it takes some time to press through the sieve, clean off the underside, continue pressing until most of the bean puree passes through and the skins are left behind.
5. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pureed beans and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon for about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to cool.
6. After the paste has cooled, scoop out 3/4″ balls. I used a small ice cream scooper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap so they won’t dry out.

adzuki beans
red “adzuki” beans

pressing bean paste through a sieve
pressing paste through sieve

22-24 regular cupcakes / 375-350 degree oven

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanillas

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add to mixer bowl. Add the milk and vanilla. Mix to combine.
5. Fill each cupcake paper about 1/4 full. Smooth with the back of a spoon. Press in a bean paste ball. Top with more batter until about 3/4 full. Smooth with the back of a spoon.

Note: Baking these is a little tricky as they end up a bit full. I pre-heated the oven to 375 then turned it down to 350 once I put the cupcakes in. This worked out well; I lost only one to overflow… and it wasn’t quite lost… I did eat it after all.

smoothing out first layer of batter
smoothing out first layer

bean paste ball on top of first layer of batter
bean paste ball

scooping on top layer of batter
scooping on top layer

Date & Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces or 1 package of Philly cream cheese
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup dried dates, chopped
1/2 cup dried pineapple, chopped

1. Bring the butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours
2. Beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy
3. Sift powdered sugar into the bowl, add vanilla, then beat until combined.
4. Add chopped dates and pineapple and stir until combined

NOTE: You can add more or less sugar to get to the consistency and sweetness you like.

1. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting.
2. Dip into lightly salted sesame seeds.

scooping frosting onto cupcakes
scooping out frosting

smoothing out frosting
smoothing out frosting

dipping into sesame seeds
dipping into sesame seeds

mooncake cupcake
inside of the cupcake

57 comments for Mooncake Cupcakes (Bean Paste Filled Cupcakes with Date-Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting) »

  1. Hmm, fascinating. I’m really intrigued by this partly because I’ve never had sweet red bean paste. Second the seasame seeds also seem like it comes from right field.
    I think I’ll make them someday just to satisfy my curiosity.

    Comment by Garrett — September 24, 2006 @ 12:44 pm

  2. I love the idea of filling them before baking. I’d love to see a picture of one cut in half (or with a bite taken out of it) to see what the filling looks like after baking.

    Comment by Aran — September 24, 2006 @ 3:36 pm

  3. why not used the sweet red bean paste from the can? too sweet?
    this idea is intriguing, i’m used to eating red bean paste with something either steamed or fried and chewy.

    the pineapple and dates are lil weird but the sesame seeds seem delightful

    Comment by Janie Hazel — September 24, 2006 @ 4:34 pm

  4. I would never call anything you make ‘weird’! This site is about innovation and being creative and new. Keep thinking outside of the cake-box!

    Comment by Meryl — September 24, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

  5. Though I’ve never seen anything exactly like this, similar desserts are easily found here in Japan. Most popular are little sweet “pancakes” with a scoop of bean paste (called AN in Japanese), but the varieties abound. With ice cream and with jelly are also very popular.

    I bet your cupcake would be a big hit here…

    Comment by selena — September 24, 2006 @ 5:49 pm

  6. These are so cute. I can’t wait to try my hands on it. =) Thxs cheryl, for sharing such a lovely inspiration.

    Comment by Jacelyn — September 24, 2006 @ 8:02 pm

  7. These look way better than traditional mooncakes with the egg center – I’ll take these over them any day!

    Comment by Anita — September 24, 2006 @ 10:55 pm

  8. I just love your ideas…who says there is nothing new under the sun…the adzuki beans in my cupboard are calling to me now…Do you have any pumpkin-y cupcakes you do?

    Comment by Teresa Mac — September 25, 2006 @ 1:37 am

  9. Thanks for experimenting with redbean paste. In Singapore, we are a lil more lucky that we can easily get ready made Red Bean paste. will test them on my “traditional” mooncake lovers – my parents. I’m sure they’ll be swooning over the moon :) – Jo

    Comment by Jo — September 25, 2006 @ 2:12 am

  10. Very cute! I love how the bean paste stays centered.

    Comment by rachel — September 25, 2006 @ 5:37 am

  11. Long time reader, first time poster. I love your blog, the creative use of ingredients, and the photography.

    Have you thought of using the fine disk of a food mill to puree things like the beans for this recipe?

    Comment by Melinda — September 25, 2006 @ 6:09 am

  12. Very interesting recipe – the combination of Date-Pineapple cream cheese and the bean paste sounds very intriguing! I like the finishing touch with the sesame seeds – lovely!

    Comment by gilly — September 25, 2006 @ 7:19 am

  13. After growing up in Japan, these cupcakes make me homesick!I used to take tea ceremony lessons – I can totally see mini versions of these guys being passed around! I always liked the chunky beanpaste (tsubuan) – you add some cooked beans back into the pureed paste – adds another element of texture that it awesome!

    Comment by Caitlinvb — September 25, 2006 @ 7:34 am

  14. Fantastic! We always have sweetened red bean in my house, so definetely will give these a shot as I think my family would absolutely love these cupcakes!

    Comment by Ellie — September 25, 2006 @ 1:41 pm

  15. could you substitute the canned red bean paste for this with similar results? i would love to make these, they do sound so yummy. altho i am a bit leary about the pineapple, i am willing to trust your tastes!

    Comment by susansobon — September 25, 2006 @ 2:12 pm

  16. The flavour of green tea blends wonderfully with red beans. You might want to try green tea flavoured cupcakes with red bean paste filling? In Malaysia, we have green tea bread buns with red bean paste filling instead.

    Comment by peetee — September 25, 2006 @ 7:05 pm

  17. DUDE, I used to wonder why no one made read bean cupcakes…either with red bean filling or some kind of red bean-based frosting. (pineapple is a great idea!). I guess there are already a lot of red bean based desserts out there, but everything can be CUPCAKE-IFIED! :) Your cupcakes look sooo beautiful and tasty. The sesame seeds are an awesome touch!

    Comment by Robyn — September 26, 2006 @ 6:23 am

  18. I love how you come up with such original ideas for cupcakes. You are certainly pushing the boundaries in cupcake kingdom!!

    Comment by jenjen — September 26, 2006 @ 9:57 am

  19. I’ve not tried any of your recipe but this one is screaming out to be tested. Very timely too as dates are abundant now in Malaysia, being the month of Ramadhan. Combination of pineapple and date did make me go “Huh?” Adzuki bean is also readily available.

    Comment by Mama Min — September 26, 2006 @ 10:28 am

  20. I love love love bean paste mooncakes, but never had the brilliant idea to make it into cupcakes.

    Thanks for sharing! (The pictures are gorgeous, by the way :) )

    Comment by veuveclicquot — September 26, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

  21. I can’t wait to try it! In a neighborhood Filipino bakery, they have bread filled with red beans and ube paste.

    Comment by melizzle — September 26, 2006 @ 5:43 pm

  22. These flavour combinations sound like a success to me, I love red bean.

    Comment by Brilynn — September 26, 2006 @ 6:14 pm

  23. I recently found your blog recently and love it! Your recipes and photographs are inspiring!

    Comment by JQ — September 26, 2006 @ 9:07 pm


    I love the flavor of mooncakes, but they are just “too much” for me — too dense, too eggy.

    This is a great middle-ground. Now, if only you would deliver!

    Comment by Fatemeh — September 26, 2006 @ 9:49 pm

  25. Very very spectacular. I love it, and will attempt it tres soon.

    Comment by Mirani — September 27, 2006 @ 3:15 am

  26. I love red bean paste! And this is the most interesting mooncake I’ve ever seen. It’s the mooncake season and everyone is making traditional mooncakes at home. Your recipe is a refreshing change from the usual, lotus seed/ egg yolk/ snow skin version!

    Comment by Elena — September 27, 2006 @ 5:05 am

  27. wow! amazing! thats a great idea!

    Comment by swee — September 27, 2006 @ 8:43 am

  28. My mouth has hit the floor…yur site is dangerously good!! I am drooling too! Amazing receipes, ideas, and PHOTOS!! Bravo!!

    Comment by tongue in cheek — September 28, 2006 @ 12:22 am

  29. i really really love your taste in cupcakes. i love not-too-sweet desserts AND i love interesting applications of flavors. even though i’m stuck in a tiny nyc kitchen i’m going to try these right after i try the caramel apple ones!

    Comment by jessica — September 28, 2006 @ 12:49 pm

  30. Garrett, you should give them a try. Red bean paste has an interesting flavor. You could definitely experiment with the cake flavor as well. I stuck to something boring…

    Aran, I posted the photo at the end.

    Janie, I prefer to make things from scratch when I can. It’s more work that way and I love working in the kitchen…

    Teresa, I did a pumpkin cupcake last year.

    Melinda, that’s a great suggestion. I lost my food mill two moves ago. The hand blender worked very well, but a food mill is a great option. I have a potato ricer as well, and I bet that would work.

    And thanks for the kind words everyone. It’s just too much fun coming up with things. I was just bouncing ideas off of my husband during the morning commute. His birthday is next weekend, so I have to come up with something fantastic. Oh the pressure!

    Comment by chockylit — September 29, 2006 @ 7:16 pm

  31. Hi,
    I love your blog and your cupcakes are so unusual and creative.
    How do you eat the cupcake. I find these liners a little cumbersome. You gotta tear it, and lift the cupcake out & it just seems messy.

    Comment by Lena — September 30, 2006 @ 6:14 am

  32. How do you come up with so many amazingly unique recipes? You are so inpsiring, seriously!

    Comment by Ari (Baking and Books) — September 30, 2006 @ 8:09 am

  33. Hi

    I tried out two of your recipes today. Tasted great! Although I made a few mistakes and ended up spending 6 hours in the kitchen. I made the samoa cupcakes and left the mixer on to wash somthing ended up washing other things forgeting the mixer was still on and over mixed the batter. For the Peanut butter chocolate cupcakes i couldnt find any cooking chocolate in 6 supermarkets ended up buyin Lindt Dark chocolate and the chocolate ganache was a little lumpy therefore i couldnt pipe it and really light in color :(. Next time i will make sure that i stock up on chocolate when its in stock because it seems to be a rare comodity here in oman!

    Comment by J — September 30, 2006 @ 2:02 pm

  34. hello,
    i’ve just discovered your website, and I like it very much! the pictures are beautiful and the recipes seems so good and very creative and original, i just want to test them all!
    what i like also are the “tutorials” pictures.

    Comment by auntie jo — October 2, 2006 @ 4:05 am

  35. very interesting. i love red bean paste and cupcakes, but never thought to combine the two. my mom never pushes the paste through a sieve, i guess we are used to a more rustic bean paste. the autumn moon festival is on october 6, look for a big full moon! (if it’s not foggy…)

    Comment by carol — October 2, 2006 @ 12:03 pm

  36. Wow.. All cup cakes? I mean in ur blog… I simply love cup cakes.. and Muffins

    Comment by Bachelor Chef — October 6, 2006 @ 5:06 am

  37. Hey!

    I just got this code for the Time Out eating event on Tuesday. I went last year, and there’s a bunch of restaurants giving out free food, cool music and there’s a couple of open bars for the whole night. There’s a coupon code (TONYVIP) you enter at check out so you can get them for 20% off your tickets if you buy them before Tuesday. It’s a really fun event, and I think you get a gift bag and a free subscriptions, too.

    Comment by alison — October 6, 2006 @ 11:47 am

  38. Love this recipe! Reminds me of my time in Asia. Bravo for making the adzuki bean fun :)

    Comment by Liz — October 10, 2006 @ 9:33 am

  39. I LOVE YOU! Bread pudding and cupcakes together?!?!? WOW! Can’t wait to try this!

    Comment by julie — October 13, 2006 @ 8:35 am

  40. amazing. mooncakes are one of my favourite chinese desserts. i’ll definitely use this recipe! :D xx

    Comment by diva — October 14, 2006 @ 11:29 am

  41. Wah, my eyes almost dropped when I saw all these delicious little things… I’ve never had a cupcake obsession before, but I think I might have one now. :) Actually, as I’m having nothing but freetime today, I’m gonna try those matcha cupcakes, they sound like yummy, and I do think I have a box of matcha somewhere… Too bad we have different measurements for baking, I’m gonna have to try and convert them to dls and grams. I hope I won’t mess up the recipe in the progress. ^^

    Comment by Niperrin — October 16, 2006 @ 12:44 am

  42. After living in Japan I found myself craving red bean paste in desserts, and these cupcakes are just perfect! I have a batch in right now, and I’m having trouble resisting them until they’re cooked properly!
    Thank you so much for the idea and recipe

    Comment by Ruth — November 11, 2006 @ 2:55 pm

  43. I just discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago and I absolutely love it–beautiful photos and great directions. Thank you so much for this recipe! My husband and I were in Korea last year and our favorite breakfast was a pastry filled with red bean paste. I made these cupcakes last weekend, with a few substitutions for my son, who is allergic to dairy products. They were delicious. My husband said they brought him right back to our favorite bakery in Seoul.

    Comment by Sara — December 16, 2006 @ 8:20 pm

  44. this recipe looks awesome – the pictures help so much, and i can’t wait to try it!

    Comment by Rae — February 6, 2007 @ 3:15 am

  45. Made these tonight (with canned red bean paste — and halved the recipe). UNBELIEVABLE! you are really talented. Thanks!!

    Comment by hugefan — March 8, 2007 @ 9:02 pm

  46. Hi, I am an event orgnaizer interested in featuring your amazing cupcakes this coming Mooncake Festival at a major mooncake event in Singapore…pls contact me +65 9189 1777or email me soonest possible.

    Pls do revert…as I am eager to work with you on featuring your unqiue creations.

    Comment by Celeste — March 29, 2007 @ 8:49 am

  47. I made these, red bean paste and all, with your green-tea cream cheese frosting…everyone raved over them. Thanks for a wonderful blog!

    Comment by tracy — June 2, 2007 @ 9:09 pm

  48. Amazing, amazing pictures. Fantastic idea – looks absolutely scrumptious. It’s easy to tell how well the diverse flavors all just blend together. My mouth’s watering!

    Comment by Sara — September 29, 2007 @ 7:11 am

  49. I made these yesterday and they were delish! I can’t wait to try your other cupcakes esp. the asian-inspired ones. Everyone was raving and then craving for them.

    Keep up the good work with your blog!

    Comment by Tina — October 4, 2007 @ 9:29 am

  50. I just made these little cupcakes today for my Birthday tomorrow, and they are so Amazing! However, I had to use a mixture of red beans, and the adzuki bean, because no grocery store in Madison seems to sell the beans. They still turned out delicious! Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

    Comment by Chelsey — December 28, 2007 @ 6:04 pm

  51. Could you please tell me how many minutes to bake this cupcake? I noticed you did not write this into your recipe.

    Comment by Ali — May 16, 2008 @ 2:00 pm

  52. i tried your recipe and it was delicious!!! I got great responses from all my big and small tasters.
    fairly simple instructions. i might jus try your other recipes.

    keep posting!

    Comment by hinata — December 30, 2009 @ 8:33 pm

  53. i love baking n making cup cakes….even though am a diabetic….can I reduced the sugar we used in baking cup cakes into half??thanks and wishing you a beautiful day :)

    Comment by ling — May 21, 2010 @ 8:10 am

  54. Love reading your blog and recipes. I am inspired by your wonderful recipes and innovative way of incorporating asian ingredients to your cupcakes. Mooncakes are difficult to make and this cupcake recipe seems like a wonderful blending of Western and Eastern tastebuds. I’m definitely going to try this one, thanks for sharing and teaching!

    Comment by BakerMom3 — July 15, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

  55. hello! i’ve become a regular visitor to your creative, informative and beautiful website! i made the mooncake cupcakes yesterday following your recipe, and it was phenomenal! EVERYONE loved it and said it was one of the best cupcakes they’ve had. i made them with less sugar and reduced-fat butter because of diabetic concerns in our family, and they stilled turned out tasty and moist. i loved every part about this recipe. i wanted to say thank you for encouraging delectable, enjoyable and creative baking!! you’re awesome!!

    Comment by joo hee — August 5, 2010 @ 7:40 am

  56. I definitly noticed your CCA apron. I am currently a student there. I love your blog.

    Comment by misslady — April 15, 2011 @ 7:10 pm

  57. Great combination..
    When East met West..
    Mooncake+cupcake.. :D

    Comment by iLOVEmooncake — July 14, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

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