The Gorgeous Mooncake Gift Box We Can’t Wait to Buy This Year

Pastry shop Dōmi and tea shop Common Clover are hoping to ignite excitement around a vital part of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

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September 17, 2020
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Every fall, my mom brings home an ornate metal tin filled with mooncake – a rich pastry often filled with lotus or sweet bean paste and salted duck egg yolks – and I’m reminded that it’s almost time for the Mid-Autumn Festival. That is, if a trip to the local Asian grocery store, with its whole seasonal sections dedicated to mooncakes, doesn’t jog my memory first. Just around mid-August, red-hued tin stacks begin to bubble up again. And it isn’t long before I’m slicing into one of these satisfyingly dense cakes, and splitting a single, palm-sized treat with my whole family. I’m not kidding when I say these cakes are indulgent.

But despite decades-long memories with the fleeting pastry, it seems I’ve been missing out on a major ritual around it: gift giving.

For some reason, the yearly mooncake my mom buys goes straight from the supermarket to our kitchen table. There’s no exchanging of cakes, no flavors switching hands.

“Mooncake gift-giving has always had a huge presence in Asia, but not so much so in America, from what we've experienced,” says Evelyn Ling, one of the chefs and founders of Dōmi, a new patisserie based in New York City.

When Evelyn, along with co-founder Joe Cheng Reed – both Michelin-starred restaurant alums – opened their shop in 2019, they sought to honor the techniques of French pastry, while bringing Asian-inspired flavors to the forefront. Inventive creations that marry Eastern and Western foods like Calamansi Coconut Profiteroles, Blueberry Lychee Pavlova and Vietnamese Coffee ‘Tiramisu’ line the Canal Street Market shop.

But for the Mid-Autumn Festival, a holiday celebrated in several Asian cultures (although by varying names), the pastry shop worked with Common Clover, a seventh-generation tea farm in Taiwan, to make a gift box that includes proudly traditional Chinese pastries paired with roasted oolong tea. “Through this collaboration, we wanted to create something that was more modern to generate more awareness and interest in the Mid-Autumn Festival, especially to the younger generation,” Evelyn explains.

Frances Kim, Food Network digital programming manager, shares, “Growing up, Mid-Autumn Festival meant receiving boxes of mooncakes from friends and neighbors and buying boxes of songpyeon (half-moon-shaped rice cakes that are traditionally eaten for Chuseok, Korea’s fall harvest festival) to give in return. This year, I’ll be turning the tables and ordering these mini mooncakes from Dōmi.”

The beautiful pink box, adorned with a pastel-colored moon flanked by white rabbits, comes with four mooncakes: two filled with red bean, one with brown sugar and one with pandan (a tropical Southeast Asian plant known for its distinctive sweet aroma).

Photo by: Photo courtesy of DŌMI and Common Clover

Photo courtesy of DŌMI and Common Clover

The cakes come in their traditional form – dense with an intricate pattern stamped on top – but the brown sugar and pandan are a more modern take on filling flavors.

As for the tea, Christine Cheung, founder of Common Clover, explains, “The tea was curated to complement the refined sweetness from the mooncakes with notes of malt, roasted chestnuts and caramel.”

With gorgeous packaging, and thoughtfully assembled elements, Domi x Common Clover’s box is something you can’t help but want to gift. There’s something extra special about it, especially when many families can’t celebrate the holiday together in-person. It’s not just about gifting mooncakes; it’s about delivering a grounding and joyful experience – the delightful moment of sipping on a fine, earthy cup of tea while digging into a handcrafted mooncake.

Dōmi and Common Clover’s Mooncake + Tea boxes are available to order online for $45 apiece with free shipping nationwide. If you’re itching to try one, get your orders in fast. The festival, falling on October 1 this year, is only weeks away!

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