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Servings: 14 cakes
Author: Lisa Lin

Mung Bean Cakes (綠豆糕)

These mung bean cakes are a delicious treat. This recipe yields about 14 to 15 mung bean cakes, but you can easily double the recipe to serve more people. In the directions below, I explain how to make the mung bean cakes with a red bean paste filling. You can make the cakes without filling by dividing the mung bean paste into 15 pieces and then shaping them with the mooncake press. See note 1 for a dairy-free/vegan version.
Prep Time50 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Resting Time8 hrs

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (155g) split mung beans (moong dal)
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups (225g) red bean paste, (see note 2)
  • 7 tablespoons (84g) sugar, use 6 tablespoons (72g) if you want less sweet cakes (see note 3)
  • 3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tablespoon virgin or unrefined coconut oil

Instructions

Prepare Beans

  • Rinse the split mung beans with 2 to 3 changes of water to wash away some of the yellow color from the beans. Transfer the beans to a bowl and fill the bowl with enough water so that the water line is about 2 inches above the beans. Soak the beans overnight. (See note 4 for Instant Pot directions).

Steam Beans

  • Add a steaming rack to a large wok. Fill the wok with water, until there’s about a 1/2-inch gap between the water level and the top of the steaming rack. Cover the wok and bring the water to boil.
  • Drain the beans and spread them over a large plate or pan that you can put into the steamer. Carefully place the plate or pan over the steaming rack, cover the wok, and steam the beans on medium-high heat for 25 minutes.

Shape Red Bean Paste Filling

  • While the beans are steaming, shape the red bean paste into small balls. You’ll need 14 to 15 pieces of red bean paste, each weighing 15 grams, about 1 flat tablespoon of bean paste. I like using a small cookie scoop for measuring this amount. You’ll likely have red bean paste leftover, which you can snack on or refrigerate/freeze for later use.

Finish Steaming Beans

  • After 25 minutes of steaming, a lot of the water inside the wok will have evaporated. Fill a measuring cup with a spout (like a Pyrex) with about 3/4 cup of water. Carefully pour the water into the bottom of the wok.
  • Sprinkle the sugar all over the beans. Then, spread out small cubes of butter over the sugar. Cover the wok, and steam for another 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off the heat. Check to make sure the beans are done cooking by crushing a bean with your fingers. It should break down very easily.

Make Bean Paste

  • While the beans are still hot, transfer the bean mixture and the coconut oil into the bowl of a food processor. You may want to use an oven mitt or a tea towel for holding onto the hot plate or pan. Blend everything until smooth.
  • This mung bean paste can crack easily when it’s cool, so work with this paste while it is still warm. Measure seven (7) 30-gram pieces of the mung bean paste, which is about 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons of paste. I like using a medium cookie scoop to measure this amount. Because of the mung bean paste's tendency to crack, we'll shape and press 7 mung bean cakes first before finishing the last 7 cakes. Cover the rest of the bean paste with a damp towel, large plate, or a lid to keep the mung bean paste warm.

Combine Mung Bean Paste and Red Bean Paste

  • Take one piece of mung bean paste and roll it into a ball. Using your fingers, shape the paste into a shallow bowl, about 2 to 2 1/2 inches wide. If you find it difficult to shape the paste into a bowl, just shape it into a flat disc, about 2 1/2 inches wide.
  • Take a piece of the red bean paste and place it onto the center of the mung bean bowl/disc. Wrap the mung bean paste around the ball of red bean paste. I like to use the crook of my right hand to mold the mung bean layer around the red bean paste.
  • Pinch the mung bean layer together so that the red bean paste is fully encased. Roll the ball of dough in your hands until the surface is smooth. Set the ball of dough aside. Continue wrapping the remaining 6 pieces of mung bean paste around the red bean paste balls.

Shape Mung Bean Cakes in Mooncake Press

  • Take one of the large balls of dough and place it into the mooncake press. Use your fingers to gently press the dough into the mold so it doesn’t slip out when you flip the mooncake press over onto your work surface.
  • Press down on the mooncake press with medium pressure and then release the cake. Transfer the mung bean cake to a plate. Continue shaping the remaining large balls of dough with the mooncake press.
  • Uncover the remaining mung bean paste, divide into 30-gram pieces, wrap around the balls of red bean paste, and shape into cakes with the mooncake press.
  • Enjoy the mung bean cakes right away or save for later. You can leave them out at room temperature for a few hours, but cover them up, as the tops of the cakes crust over easily. If you’re not going to eat them in the next few hours, refrigerate them in a container. The cakes are also pleasant to eat when they’re chilled. Eat the mung bean cakes within 3 to 4 days as they can develop mold over time.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • If the mung bean layer keeps cracking, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of water and work it into the paste. Note also that if you reduce the amount of sugar significantly, this increases the chances of cracking. See note 3 for more info.
  • If the cake gets stuck to the mold, clean out the crevices of the mold with a toothpick. Then, rub a thin layer of oil (any neutral-flavored oil like sunflower or vegetable oil) over the large balls of dough before fitting it into the mooncake mold.
  • If you are using a square mold, you’ll want to shape the large ball of dough into a slightly oblong, oval shape. When you insert the dough into the mooncake press, the dough won’t scrape against the sides of the press.

Notes

  1. Dairy-Free/Vegan Version: You can substitute the butter with a neutral-flavored oil (such as sunflower, safflower, or vegetable oil) or a toasted nut oil (such as walnut, peanut, or hazelnut oil).
  2. Red Bean Paste: You should only need about 1 cup of red bean paste for this recipe, but have at least 1 1/4 cups ready, just in case. If you are making the red bean paste from my recipe, which yields 1 3/4 cups of paste, you’ll have plenty leftover. Snack on any leftovers or store them in the fridge or freezer.
  3. Using Less Sugar: Sugar liquifies as it dissolves. If you reduce the amount of sugar in the mung bean paste significantly, the paste will be less moist, thereby increasing the chances for cracking. When I was recipe testing, I noticed that the mung bean layer cracked a little when I used only 6 tablespoons of sugar. It shouldn’t be too big of a problem if you work quickly.
  4. Cooking Split Mung Beans in the Instant Pot: I used this tutorial from Runaway Rice as reference for cooking the mung beans. Add the rinsed mung beans and 1 1/3 cups water to the bowl of your Instant Pot. Cover it with the lid and cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. Once the cooking stops, let the beans sit for 10 minutes. Release any residual pressure by moving the pressure release to “Venting.” Transfer the beans to the bowl of a food processor, add the butter, sugar, and coconut oil, and blend until smooth. Because the bean paste is runnier when you cook the beans in the Instant Pot, you need to pan fry the bean paste in a nonstick pan. Cook the paste further over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, until the bean paste is firm enough that you can fold it around easily with a spatula (think soft Play-Doh texture). Truth be told, I didn’t like the texture of the resulting mung bean paste. The texture felt gluey and stuck to my teeth. I suppose you can try steaming the beans in the Instant Pot, but I have not tested that method yet.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cake | Calories: 105kcal | Carbohydrates: 13.3g | Protein: 1.6g | Fat: 5.4g | Saturated Fat: 2.7g | Cholesterol: 6.1mg | Sodium: 2.8mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8.7g
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