Having grown up in Singapore in the materialistic 80's I have fond memories of the wild frenzy of mooncake variants that various enterprising bakeries tried to make money with. Many of them were quite frankly awful. I particularly remember the durian variant that was just....terrible. And I looove durian.
Who remembers the crystal skin varieties? I don't know if they even sell them any more. THe idea was that the pastry wrapping was not baked, and remained white. They were also called 'snowskin'. There was even a type of crystal skin where the skin was flavoured with pandan (screwpine). I was never keen on the redbean or meat fillings, let alone the mung bean paste fillings. I guess it was mainly the texture, as the various bean or meat fillings were crumbly, reminding one of the texture of a stale moon cake. I hated the nut ones as a child, but would be willing to give them another try now that I am older.
I find myself a traditionalist when it comes to mooncakes. I only like the common, lotus-seed paste, burnished golden mooncakes. Whether they should contain yolks tends to depend on my mood of the time. The creamy saltiness of the yolks tend to point up the sweetness of the lotus seed paste while reducing the heaviness of the mooncake.
The appeal for me lies on the unctuous smooth richness of the filling, which is never overly sweet in the high-end moon cakes. A tiny wedge of sliver of the cake is perfect with a cup of strong, potent chinese tea - Ti Kuan Yin for preference - as a teatime snack. The most perfumed cakes were made with lard in the filling instead of vegetable oil, rendering the addition of melon seeds in the paste unnecessary. The deep brown pastry tended to add bittersweet notes to the gentle sweetness of the paste, and the aroma of the tea just brought it all together perfectly.
And then we'd wonder where the mooncake went, shrug, and unwrap another with a grin.
I guess that mooncakes easily turn people off if they are even slightly stale, as the filling or even the cake itself begins to weep oil and gain an almost plutonium-like denseness. Unlike fruitcakes, which are prized more the longer they have sat steeping in brandy (or if you are my aunt, cognac). Luckily I like both!
Dryden, I think it's great that you are using little mooncakes for wedding cake favours. Nice change of pace from the interminable not-very-good wedding fruitcake chunks. One of my aunt's colleagues gave out tiny (2-3 inch diameter) mooncakes for her wedding too. However, as she was marrying a Japanese fellow they opted for the red bean filling as a very apt statement on the blending of cultures.