I'm a sucker for pretty patterns, lovely bright colors and above all, cuteness. And these sweet potato mooncakes are just that and more.
Here's a chewy and delectable sweet potato mooncake recipe I've developed in my Healthier Mooncakes Experiment post last week. Made using almond flour, coconut flour, mashed sweet potatoes and coconut oil, these bright orange mooncakes are gluten-free and vegan-friendly. Definitely not your typical Chinese confectionaries that are made with flour and filled with egg yolks.
update: new photos added 9/9/23
Despite how different they are from the original, these sweet potato mooncakes taste simply amazing! These yummy treats have a toothsome, chewy exterior and fudgy filling inside. Since it's made from almond flour, it had a nutty flavor and thicker texture than the traditional mooncakes that made them seem extra hearty. The other great thing about this recipe is that you can use any fruit or veggie puree of your choice to use for binding the dough together (such as applesauce, mashed sweet potato or pumpkin puree).
Still, sweet potatoes remain one of my favorite ingredients to incorporate into healthy desserts and snack recipes, and for many good reasons. One of them is how healthy they are:
Why Sweet Potatoes are so Good for You:
According to USDA, sweet potato contain fiber (3 g/100g), starch (12,6 g/100g), potassium (337 mg/100g), vitamin C (2,4 mg/100g). Sweet potato’s tubers have antidiabetic, antioxidant and anti-proliferative properties due to the presence of valuable nutritional and mineral components. They also appear to be very beneficial in the diet of diabetics and consumers with insulin resistance because of their low glycemic index. Also, sweet potato has a higher amylose ratio when compared to regular potato, which raises the blood sugar levels slowly compared to simple sugars. That’s why sweet potatoes are a wonderful addition to a healthy diet.
Recipes that Also Use Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients Used to Make This Sweet Potato Mooncakes
**I've linked some of these ingredients to amazon.com to give you an idea of what they are, but you should also be able to find them in your local grocery store (usually, the natural & organic food section). They are also affiliate links, which means that I earn a commission as an Amazon Associate if you decide to purchase the items. The price will be the same for you, link or no link 🙂
- Almond flour – I used blanched almond flour. But you can also make your own by blending raw or blanched, slivered almonds in the food processor and sifting them through a sieve.
- Coconut flour – Coconut flour does not substitute well, and I can’t recommend swapping coconut flour with other ingredients unless you absolutely had to (2 Tbsp coconut flour = ½ cup almond flour). Unfortunately, you probably won’t get the same texture or mouthfeel as the original recipe.
- Sweet Potato – You'll need mashed sweet potatoes for this recipe. You can steam, bake or boil them until soft but here's the easy method: Wash a and wrap a whole sweet potato in a microwave-safe silicone bag or in a plastic wrap, then microwave on high for 6-7 minutes (or more depending on the size of the potato). You can make sure it's cooked by sticking a fork or toothpick into the center. Let them cool somewhat before handling and mash it with a fork.
Note: While you can steam or bake the sweet potatoes, I used the microwave to cook the sweet potatoes in just about 10 minutes! Here's the shortcut microwave method.
- Salt – Pink Himalayan salt is what I have at home, so it’s what I use, but you can use any kind for this recipe.
- Sugar – You can use any granulated sugar of your choice (I used organic cane sugar here). For the lower carb, lower calorie option, you can use a sugar-free substitute such as monk fruit sweetener or, stevia powder (but you'll have to convert the amount of stevia according to package directions).
- Coconut Oil - You can use regular coconut oil, but I like to use refined coconut oil, like this one, because there's less coconut flavor/scent. But for this recipe, you can also try using olive oil, avocado oil, or regular canola oil.
For the Filling You'll Need
- Sweetened White Bean Paste (a.k.a. Shiro An) - fudgy and sweet, white bean paste is a perfect filling for mooncakes. You're welcome to use other fillings for this recipe. More ideas below in the "variation" section
The main highlight of mooncakes is their beautiful engraved patterns and shapes. Mooncake molds are readily available at different Chinese grocery stores. You can also find it online, especially on amazon. They are of premium quality and quite affordable. I got the 50g mooncake molds here
Step by Step Guide
How to Make Sweet Potato Vegan Mooncakes
Prepare mashed sweet potato - either steam, bake or microwave sweet potato until tender. The easiest way I know how to cook sweet potatoes is wrapping the sweet potato in either a microwave safe silicone bag or in plastic wrap, then microwaving them on high for 6-7 minutes (or more depending on the size of the potato). Afterward, I let cool somewhat and mash it with a fork.
Mix dough ingredients in a clean bowl. For best results, use hands to knead the dough until the dough comes together). Divide the dough into 6 equal-sized pieces and roll into a ball (about 20-30 grams of dough each).
Prepare the filling- roll the sweetened white bean paste filling into a heaping tablespoon-sized balls (about 30g). You can also mix add ins such as nuts, seeds, dried fruits, or add flavoring/coloring to the bean paste before rolling.
Flatten the dough into a thin disk using the palms of your hands, place about 30g of filling in the middle. **I wore vinyl gloves here to prevent the dough from sticking to my hands which makes it easier to shape, but the gloves are optional.
Cover the filling with the dough and gently squeeze the dough into a ball. The ball really does not have to be perfect or smooth, because you'll be using the mooncake mold to press these rough edges into shape anyways.
Use a well-greased mooncake mold to press the dough into shape. A non-stick cooking spray works well to ensure that the mold is properly greased.
Bake in a 350F pre-heated oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until the tops of the mooncakes appear dry. The bottom of the cakes should be lightly browned.
Recipe Variations and Optional Add Ins:
There are many other types of fillings used in traditional mooncakes. Here are some ideas below:
- Lotus paste – classic! You can buy these in the refrigerated section in a Asian grocery store, or buy them online (like Amazon, here)
- Shiro-an (sweetened white bean paste) – on Amazon, here, or here's a Shortcut White Bean Paste Recipe I make when I’ve run out of Shiro An
- Koshi-an (sweetened red bean paste) – on Amazon, here
- Mung Bean paste - sweet and delightfully yellow, homemade mung bean paste is a perfect mooncake filling for those who are looking for a healthier bean paste alternative. Here's my 2-Ingredient mung bean paste recipe here
- Coffee paste : ½ cup Shiro-an mixed with 2 tsp coffee extract (click on the link to see my 2 ingredient coffee bean paste recipe here)
You can also play around with different Crust variations, too.
- Chocolate mooncakes - add 1 Tbsp of cocoa powder to the dry ingredients before mixing; add some mini chocolate chips to the filling before rolling into tablespoon sized (about 30 gram) balls.
- Matcha mooncakes - add 1 tsp of matcha powder to the dry ingredients before mixing
- Chai or Cinnamon mooncakes - Try adding a tsp of Cardamom Powder or Chai Tea Powder to the batter with the other dry ingredients.
- Add food coloring. For example add some red food coloring to make a red velvet mooncake variety!
- Coffee or mocha? Add either a teaspoon of coffee extract or espresso powder.
- Try it with Purple Sweet Potato! Same recipe using purple sweet potato. Here's the full recipe!
How to Make this Mooncake Healthier
- Storebought lotus pastes and sweet bean pastes are delicious, but rather high in refined sugar and calories. While I still recommend you use the storebought kinds to make these mooncakes as close to the original texture as possible, there are many healthier alternatives for the filling, such as mashed sweet potato (the best ones are Asian sweet potato and Purple Sweet Potato), chickpea cookie dough or chopped nuts (I'll post the recipe on this later).
- I also love adding nuts, seeds and other ingredients to the filling that add texture, fiber and nutrition. Try adding nuts or dried fruit to the filling before rolling into tablespoon sized balls.
- If you want to increase fiber, mix a Tablespoon of ground flaxseed or coconut flour to the filling.
How to Store
- You can store these cakes covered at room temperature for up to 24 hours. For longer storage, you can place them in a plastic freezer bag or airtight container to store in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze up to 4 months.
- I found that these mooncakes taste WAY better the day after they are made. I don't know how to explain it other than that these mooncake crusts have a better flavor and develop a more fudgier/tender texture when they have a chance to rest in the fridge overnight. So for the best flavor and texture, I recommend that you store these mooncakes inside an airtight container and let them cool in the fridge for at least 8 hours before eating.
More Vegan, Gluten-Free Mooncake Recipes Coming Up:
Go to my Healthier Mooncake Experiment post to see how I started making healthier mooncakes!
Vegan Sweet Potato Mooncakes (Gluten-Free)
- Mix dough ingredients in a clean bowl. For best results, use hands to knead the dough until the dough comes together)
- Divide the dough into 6 equal-sized pieces and roll into a ball (about 20-30 grams of dough each)
- Prepare the filling- roll the sweetened white bean paste filling into a heaping tablespoon-sized balls (about 30g). You can also mix add ins such as nuts, seeds, dried fruits, or add flavoring/coloring to the bean paste before rolling.
- Flatten the dough into a thin disk using the palms of your hands, place about 30g of filling in the middle.
- Cover the filling with the dough and gently squeeze the dough into a ball**
- Use a well-greased mooncake mold to press the dough into shape. A non-stick cooking spray works well to ensure that the mold is properly greased.
- Bake in a 350F pre-heated oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until the tops of the mooncakes appear dry. The bottom of the cakes should be lightly browned.
- For best flavor and texture, let the mooncakes cool in the fridge overnight (or at least 8 hours) sealed inside an airtight container. This extra step ensures that the mooncake crust to soften and become more chewy, rather than tough.