The moon cake is a Chinese confection that is traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival, although they can be eaten at other times of the year as well.
Typical moon cakes are often, but not always, round or rectangular, measuring about 10 cm in diameter, and 4-5 cm thick, and are very dense, especially when compared to Western cakes. The traditional pastry has a flaky skin with a lotus seed paste, and a whole egg yolk in the centre to symbolize the moon. When the cake is cut into quarters, as is traditional custom, the yolk looks like a round moon, and it balances out the sweet filling with a salty taste.
Lotus seed, however, is very expensive, so another paste, such as, black bean paste, yellow bean paste, or red bean paste is often substituted. The red bean paste is quite labour intensive, taking several days to make, so typically, these moon cakes are purchased at Asian markets and bakeries. But in recent years, such ingredients as coffee, chocolate, nuts (walnuts, mixed nuts, etc), fruits (prunes, pineapples, melons, etc), vegetables (sweet potatoes, etc), ham, and even lychees have been added to give a modern twist to the traditional recipes. Each cake has an imprint on top, either the characters for longevity or harmony; a moon; a woman (chang"e ) on the moon; a flower; or even a rabbit. Moon cakes are expensive, are considered a delicacy, and go best with oolong or jasmine tea.