Have you ever tried Taiwanese pineapple cakes? They’re lovely little buttery pastries filled with a sweet pineapple jam and the best ones come from bakeries in Taiwan. I’ve had the pleasure (and displeasure) of trying a whole bunch of different ones, some straight from Taiwanese bakeries and some straight from the Chinese grocery store. You can imagine which ones were better.
Now, I don’t tend to have a particular interest in Chinese desserts. There’s just something so unappealing, to me, about the sound of black sesame paste filled sticky rice balls, or sweet red bean soup, or…Chinese wife cake. Actually, I just watched my sister put a black sesame mochi ball into her mouth and spit it back out, mainly because she’s mildly allergic to sesame seeds, but that doesn’t usually stop her when she’s hungry. These pineapple cakes however, are nothing like your traditional Chinese dessert.
My version of these miniature cakes is a little different than a regular pineapple cake since the outer pastry is more in between a cake and cookie and I left out the regular addition of winter melon in the filling since I assume it’s really just there for filler. But isn’t that the case with so many things today. Fillers everywhere. It’s so hard to find foods that aren’t filled with chemicals and by-products or even just cheaper alternatives. I guess that’s what the majority of products are about nowadays, quantity over quality.
So, I’m not saying that these are the healthiest treats in the world, I’ll save the granola bars for another post, but they’re definitely not packed with fillers or red bean or black sesame paste. Oh, and they’re also a bit tedious to make especially if you’re making a large batch of them but they’re well worth it.
First portion the jam into balls,
then, flatten a piece of dough and wrap it around the pineapple jam,
shape into squares,
They didn’t bake into the perfect squares I had hoped for but I also didn’t have the square moulds that should be used to bake them in. No matter, they all go into the stomach as my mother always says.
Taiwanese Pineapple Cakes
For the pineapple jam:
1 medium pineapple (about 450g of edible pineapple), chopped finely
1/4 cup (60g) caster sugar
scant 1/4 cup (60g) golden syrup
1 tsp cornstarch + 1 tsp water, mixed into a slurry
For the dough:
1 stick (113g) salted butter
1/4 cup (55g) shortening
1/2 cup (65g) confectioners sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (210g) all purpose flour
1/4 cup (35g) corn starch
1/4 tsp (1g) baking soda
First make the pineapple jam. Combine the chopped pineapple with the sugar and syrup in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook on low to medium heat for about 20-30 minutes while constantly stirring. Once the mixture has cooked down and thickened up, mix the cornstarch slurry into the pineapple and cook for another few minutes. Scrape mixture into a bowl and refrigerate until cool.
To make the pastry, cream the butter, shortening, and confectioners sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated then mix in the flour, corn starch, and baking soda until just combined. It will be a very soft dough but if it seems too sticky to handle, mix in a little more flour a tablespoon at a time. Let the dough firm up in the fridge while you portion the pineapple jam.
Portion the jam into 20 equal sized balls by dusting your hands with powdered sugar.
Portion the dough into 20 equal pieces.
Assemble the cakes by liberally dusting your work surface and hands with flour and flatten the dough into a circle. Place a ball of jam in the centre of each flattened dough piece and fold up the corners and use a knife or a dough scraper to shape the sides.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F
Bake the cakes on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, flipping the cakes over with a spatula half way through. Be very careful while flipping as they will be very soft at this point. They should be lightly browned on both sides. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool to room temperature.