Happy Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year! One of the most festive times for our family is among us, and, though it’s scaled down by a lot this year, I’m still determined to get in the spirit. These mung bean cakes give me a lot of nostalgia, and they’re such a staple dessert in Chinese cuisine. I’ve been planning out our menu for our new year’s dinner–we’re having a little Zoom call dinner sort of thing with my relatives in China–and we’ll finish out the night with these cute little cakes!
The red bean filling comes from dried adzuki red bean, which I got from Hmart, and all you really do is boil them, blend them in a food processor, and add sugar. Same goes for the mung bean exterior! Then, you use a special little mooncake mold press to make the shapes (I’ve provided the amazon link a couple of my favorites–the one I bought is sold out!)
I made almost everything from scratch; honestly, the process was sort of messy and time consuming, but it’s wayyy easier than making mooncakes and much more straightforward. It’s all worth it in the end! It’s just a lot of waiting, and I get impatient, haha.
How to make red bean paste from scratch
It would be much easier to buy the pre-made red bean paste from the grocery store, but I couldn’t find any! :( so I had to make my own, which is actually super easy.
- In a pot, completely submerge the red beans in water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, discard the water using a strain, then re-fill the pot with water again.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for around 1.5 hours, adding water periodically to ensure the beans do not dry out or burn at the bottom. Strain the beans, reserving around 1/3 cup of the water. You can tell that they’re ready when you can easily smush them between your fingers.
- Put around 3/4 of the mixture in a food processor, along with the reserved water, and blend until completely smooth. You can add more water if necessary, to make it easier on your machine. With the remaining beans, use a fork and crush them until there are no more whole beans left. This process is to ensure that the red bean filling has texture–it’s how I like it! If you don’t like the chunks, go ahead and blend all of the beans in the food processor.
- Return both the blended and crushed bean mixtures to the pot, and add 2/3 cup sugar. Cook for around 25-30 minutes, until you can easily draw a line in the bottom of the pot. The bean paste will thicken up as it cools, so don’t worry if it’s still a little loose.
- Transfer to a container and let come to room temperature, then store in the fridge until further use!
**The recipe I listed below will probably make more than you need!
For the actual Mung bean cakes:
Like I mentioned, the process for the mung bean is essentially the same as the red bean paste:
- You’re going to want to soak the mung beans in water and place in the refrigerator overnight before you make the mung cakes. This is to allow them to sort of open up and make the soft before we steam them.
- Drain the water, and add to a glass / heatsafe container; using a double boiler, cook them for about 45 minutes. Don’t boil them as you did with the red beans! We’re trying not to introduce too much moisture.
- Blend the beans in a food processor and stir in the butter/honey over medium heat.
- In regards to shaping the cakes, it might be a little tricky. The bean mixture is probably going to be a little crumbly; after shaping the rounds, make sure you cover them in a damp cloth as you’re working! This will prevent them from drying out.
- I find it easier to break off about 1/3 of each ball first. Using the remaining 2/3 of the ball, make a divot and put a little bit of the red bean paste in the middle. Then, flatten out the reserved 1/3 and place on top, pinching the edges together to seal. You should be left with a mung bean ball with red bean in the center!
- Then, just use the moon cake press to shape them! There are so many different designs you can pick from: I’ve linked my amazon favorites here and here!
As usual, the recipe card will be at the bottom, but it’ll be much more concise; I thought I’d give a much more in-depth explanation here.
Andddd that’s it! As you can tell, some of the patterns are a little flawed, but you can barely tell. The molds are just so pretty! Mine have rabbit patterns on them, but there are soooo many prettier designs out on the internet.
For another easy LNY recipe, try out my egg tart recipe!
If you make the recipe, make sure to tag me on Instagram @mysouthernsweettooth or post on Pinterest (sometimes y’all will do that and I love it!)
Happy lunar new year & happy baking! :)
- 1 cup Adzuki red beans
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1.5 cups Mung bean
- 5 tbsp butter, unsalted
- ¼ cup honey (more or less, depending on your liking)
- Rinse the dried red beans. In a pot, add the beans and add water until it is about 1 inch above the beans. Bring to a boil, then strain out and discard the water. Add the same amount of water again; then, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for about 1½ hours, adding water periodically to ensure the beans are fully submerged. Strain, reserving about ⅓ cup of the bean water. Let cool.
- Put around ¾ of the beans in a food processor, along with the reserved water, and blend until completely smooth (add more water if necessary, to make it easier on your machine) With the remaining beans, use a fork and crush them until there are no more whole beans left. Return both the blended and crushed bean mixtures to the pot, and add ⅔ cup sugar. Stir to combine and around 20-25 minutes, until you can easily draw a line in the bottom of the pot. Allow to come to room temperature, and store in the fridge for later use
- The night before, soak the mung beans in water and place in the fridge.
- Drain the water and transfer beans to a heat-safe container. In a double boiler, steam for 45 minutes, until the beans can easily be crushed with your finger. Blend in a food processor until completely smooth.
- In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Then, add the mung bean mixture, stirring for 3-4 minutes with a wooden spoon to fully incorporate. Add the honey, stirring again. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let cool for a bit.
- To shape the cakes: divide the mung bean paste into 30g pieces (should be about 1.5 inches in diameter). Break off about ⅓ of each ball first. Using the remaining ⅔ of the ball, make a divot and put a little bit of the red bean paste in the middle. Then, flatten out the reserved ⅓ and place on top, pinching the edges together to seal. You should be left with a mung bean ball with red bean in the center. Shape each ball with a mooncake mold. You can enjoy right away, or store in the fridge for up to 3 days!