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taiwanese pineapple cakes

As previously posted, I attempted to make Taiwanese pineapple cakes for Chinese New Year. Unfortunately, I did not cook down the filling enough the first time (and overestimated the amount of thickening that would occur after chilling), so I ended up with delicious shortbread with traces of runny pineapple cake filling.

However, I was determined to not waste the substantial amount of leftover filling. Not only did it take a considerable amount of time to make, but I also had to make a trip to the Asian supermarket in the suburbs to find winter melon, which is a somewhat tasteless melon that is required for the desired filling consistency. So, I cooked the leftover filling down further until it was thick as jam. After I refrigerated it, I gave the homemade pineapple cake another try.

filling: pineapple, winter melon, honey, Taiwanese basil, sugar

This time, although I struggled a little bit with folding the filling elegantly into the shortbread “wrapper,” which was very delicate and soft even after brief refrigeration, take 2 of the pineapple cake was not a complete failure. The cakes turned out slightly misshapen (again, maybe the dough needs to be refrigerated longer and/or the wrapped cakes should be frozen before going in to the oven?), but they were delicate and deliciously buttery.

I was inspired by Eat the Love‘s modern twists on the traditional ingredients and added two twigs of Taiwanese basil (instead of EtL’s rosemary) to the filling. I also followed EtL’s lead and used honey instead of maltose syrup (which I do not have in my pantry…and I’m not sure where I would find it?). I like the basil flavor, but it was almost too subtle, so I would add more next time. The honey was also nice but seemed to overpower the pineapple. Next time, I would cut back on the honey and/or find some maltose syrup to use.

In the end, I’m not going to lie. . . there may not be a pineapple cake take 3. The filling and shortbread dough each took a bit of time to make, and assembling the cakes was not an elegant task. Although I think even my somewhat sloppy looking cakes tasted better than the Asian grocery store-bought versions, I won’t be putting any of the bakeries in Taiwan out of business. So, as long as my mom is interested in ferrying dozens of fresh pineapple cakes back from Taiwan for me to store in my freezer, the homemade pineapple cake recipe will probably fall to the bottom of my recipe pile.

But who knows what will happen when my supply is depleted!