Mooncake is one of the most consumed confectionary products in the world, especially in China. In Western countries, mooncake is also consumed as a form of delicacy. It is customary for businessmen and families to give mooncakes to their clients, relatives and friends as presents during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The demand for mooncake is increasing. According to the China Food Industry Association, China recorded a total sale of 1.38 billion mooncakes, worth RMB 19.67 billion (approximately RM12.25 billion) in 2019.
Most mooncakes are usually baked with fillings in the form of paste using oil other than palm oil. The Chinese market is currently diversifying from traditional mooncakes to contemporary mooncakes, which require new types of fillings to replace the conventional bean paste. These trends can also cater to today’s changing taste preferences and a more health-conscious society.
Hence, a group of researchers from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), led by Niu Yueting has formulated palm oil-based liquid chocolate for contemporary mooncakes to meet the growing demand for such mooncakes.
MPOB’s technology produces a formulation for chocolate filling in mooncake, using palm oil to maintain the liquidity of the chocolate filling in the mooncake. The chocolate filling remains fluid at room temperature during and even after the baking process of the mooncakes. This formulation produces a smooth texture and mouth-watering liquid chocolate filling with a flaky exterior. In addition, this technology helps prevent cracking, leakage and changes in the shape of mooncake despite having liquid and soft inner filling.
According to Niu, the team studied the suitable formulation to produce palm-based liquid chocolate filling for mooncakes at the Palm Oil Research and Technical Service Institute of MPOB (PORTSIM) in Shanghai, China. The research was completed in 18 months from January 2018 to June 2019 in collaboration with Xihua University and Zhengzhou Milikang Food Co., Ltd..
Among the ingredients used for the palm-based liquid chocolate filling are palm oil, cocoa powder, emulsifier and milk powder. “In addition, MPOB has also analysed the taste and texture to obtain high-quality mooncakes. Using this formulation, the exterior of the mooncake or the crust can be maintained so that it is always crunchy and not soft. The oil in the filling will not be absorbed into the crust and becomes soft,” Niu explained.
Niu declared that MPOB’s innovation could further increase the China’s demand for palm oil, after the country's export of palm oil has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The innovation has been commercialised by two firms in China.
“This innovation is currently at the forefront of the mooncake industry and has a great potential to fulfil the increasing demand for contemporary mooncakes. The formulation will allow the chocolate filling in mooncakes remain fluid, while having a flaky crust that brings an entirely new experience to eating mooncakes,” Niu added.
The liquid chocolate filling can also be applied in various bakeries, including cookies, biscuits and breads.