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

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