If you're ever bored with mooncakes, these purple sweet potato mooncakes will give you everything you love about the traditional kinds, but more.
Made with purple sweet potatoes, also called the Japanese Purple Sweet Potato or Okinawan Sweet Potato, these mooncakes are not only pretty on the eyes, but they're also delicious, too! Chewy and fudgy on the outside and creamy and sweet on the inside, these mooncakes are naturally vegan, gluten-free and can be even paleo if you use the sweet potato filling that's used to replace lotus paste.
update 9/9/23: added new photos!
How are Purple Sweet Potatoes nutritionally different from the Orange ones?
Sweet potatoes come in all sorts of colors, from brown, orange, purple, yellow, and red, but they all have a moist, sweetish taste, with a pleasant and aromatic smell. Although most sweet potatoes have a similar vitamin and mineral content, their antioxidants and phytonutrient profile varies depending on the color of the sweet potato’s flesh. For example, sweet potatoes with orange flesh are rich in carotenoids. Carotenoids are yellow, orange and red pigments that function as a source of vitamin A, with the most common carotenoids being beta carotenes (good for eye health and preventing eye disease). In contrast, purple sweet potatoes are rich in anthocyanins, which are blue, red, or purple pigments found in plants, especially flowers, fruits, and tubers. In a way, all sweet potatoes have antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity effects and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Recipes that Also Use Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients Used to Make These Purple 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.
- Purple Sweet Potato – You'll need mashed purple sweet potatoes for this recipe. Purple sweet potato (also called Japanese Purple Sweet Potato or Okinawan Sweet Potato) can be found in most Asian grocery stores. To cook quickly, 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.
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. You can also use plant-based, dairy-free butter or regular butter instead.
For the Filling You'll Need
- Mashed Purple Sweet Potato - though in most of my other mooncake recipes I use sweetened white bean paste, this recipe uses mashed purple sweet potato which are Asian sweet potatoes that have a thicker, heavier flesh than orange sweet potatoes when baked. The dense texture is almost like a baked russet potato.
- To prepare the filling, finely mash the cooked purple sweet potato using a fork or potato masher. This is optional, but I usually do a quick taste test to see if the sweet potatoes are sweet enough. If not, you can lightly sweeten with sugar if desired or use without the sweetener and just use the sweet potatoes as they are. Roll the mashed purple sweet potato "filling" into a heaping tablespoon-sized balls (about 30g) before using.
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 Purple Sweet Potato Vegan Mooncakes
Prepare mashed purple sweet potato - either steam, bake or microwave sweet potato until tender. The easiest way I know how to cook sweet potatoes is by 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.
Prepare the purple sweet potato filling- finely mash the cooked purple sweet potato using a fork or potato masher. Do a quick taste test and lightly sweeten with sugar if desired or use without the sweetener. Roll the mashed purple sweet potato into heaping tablespoon-sized balls (about 30g). Set aside.
Mix mooncake dough ingredients in a clean bowl. For best results, use hands to knead the dough until the dough comes together).
Divide the mooncake dough into 6 equal-sized pieces and roll into a ball (about 20-30 grams of dough each)
Flatten the mooncake dough into a thin disk using the palms of your hands, place about 30g of filling in the middle.
Cover the sweet potato filling with the mooncake 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 preheated 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)
How to Make this Healthier
- 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 mooncakes 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.
Purple Sweet Potato Mooncakes (Vegan & Gluten-Free)
- 200 g purple sweet potato mashed sweetened, if desired (read instructions)
- Mix mooncake dough ingredients in a clean bowl. For best results, use hands to knead the dough until the dough comes together)
- Divide the mooncake dough into 6 equal-sized pieces and roll into a ball (about 20-30 grams of dough each)
- Prepare the filling- finely mash the cooked purple sweet potato using a fork or potato masher. Do a quick taste test and lightly sweeten with sugar if desired or use without the sweetener. Roll the mashed purple sweet potato into a heaping tablespoon-sized balls (about 30g). Set aside.
- Flatten the mooncake dough into a thin disk using the palms of your hands, place about 30g of filling in the middle.
- Cover the sweet potato filling with the dough and gently squeeze the mooncake 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.