Mooncake ice cream, anyone?

Mooncakes are a traditional Chinese delicacy that are enjoyed and given as a gift to friends, colleagues, family, relatives and clients during the
Mid-Autumn Festival, which is now better known as the Mooncake Festival. The date changes every year because it follows the Lunar calendar. Highlight of the festival takes place on 29 September this year, but the celebration is actually longer than that.

There are so many different kinds of mooncakes these days — from the traditional lotus paste to the more contemporary beans, nuts and custards, even meats. And the ultimate indulgence, the egg yolk, can be just one or as many as four or six. Shapes, too, shift from square to round, and sizes range from small, almost bite-sized, to big and for-sharing.

Salted Egg Caramel Ube Mooncake Gelato.

But there is one form of mooncake that you have probably never tried. I have also never tried it until recently, because it is an entirely new “phenomenon” mooncake in ice cream form. Mooncake gelato. With lots of chunky mooncake bits to chew on. Yes.

After successful collaborations to produce cakes and alcoholic drinks in ice cream, Karabella Dairy recently joined hands with chef Nathaniel Uy of TheHungryChef to create two flavors of mooncake gelato. Chef Nathaniel is, after all, known for his homemade, artisanal mooncakes, which he produces and sells during mooncake season. He makes exquisite flavors, including black bean mooncake, ube mooncake and coffee mooncake.


Matcha Red Bean Mooncake Gelato.

“It is really a tradition to give mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival, and we wanted to be able to give mooncakes that are different but still delightful this year. We collaborated with Chef Nathaniel because we find his mooncakes very different from the ones we tried, especially the crust. The fillings are also ‘sakto to panlasang Pinoy’ and very creative, too,” said Jan Buenaflor of Karabella Dairy.

Karabella already had the gelato base flavor, the brand’s best-selling Salted Egg Caramel Gelato for the Salted Egg Caramel Ube Mooncake Gelato, one of the two flavors that came out of the collaboration. Then Ericjan “EJ” Buenaflor, the gelato master of Karabella, created a new matcha base for the other flavor, Matcha Red Bean Mooncake Gelato.

Photograph courtesy of Jan and EJ Buenaflo
jan and EJ Buenaflor, the mother-and-son team behind Karabella Dairy, with chef Nathaniel Uy of TheHungryChef.

“We considered what flavors we could make to precisely combine with Chef Nat’s mooncakes. We first ran and tried a tiny batch to see if our salted egg and matcha would complement his mooncakes. We made several batches and tests to balance all the flavors, as we didn’t want to overpower the real flavor of Chef Nat’s mooncakes and we also didn’t want to come up with a mooncake gelato that will seem as if we just topped our gelato with mooncake,” explains EJ.

The results: The salted egg in the first Mooncake Gelato flavor has its saltiness balanced by the sweetness of the caramel and the ube, so that the ingredients complement each other. The matcha in the second flavor provides a distinct and refreshing green tea flavor while the red bean paste adds a unique sweetness and textural contrast to it to make a great combo.

Karabella x TheHungryChef’s mooncake gelatos are now available online. They are available in a package of one-pint Salted Egg Caramel Ube Mooncake Gelato, one pint Matcha Red Bean Mooncake Gelato, and two TheHungryChef mooncakes for P1,500. You can also buy the mooncake gelatos per pint or flavor.