In my mind, Chinese desserts relate mostly to ground rice or jelly based confections, which project a rather healthy image in their overall composition and presentation, and therefore not exactly what the sweet tooth in me would find terribly appealing. To celebrate the year of the rooster, I wanted a proper dessert, one with enough calories and sugar to qualify as a ‘sweet treat’ and yet stay true to its roots as part of traditional Chinese cuisine. And when I stumbled upon these beauties on KirbieCravings, I immediately knew that this would be on my dessert table for CNY this year.

Chinese pineapple cakes are more of shortbread cookies filled with homemade jam and baked to golden perfection. While they are believed to have originated in Taiwan, these crumbly cookies have become immensely popular across South East Asia, being packaged and sold as square shaped, bite-size biscuits. As I was quite adamant about baking them in my pretty flower patterned molds, my cakes did turn up with a few cracks but somehow that was enough to distract me from the buttery, melt-in-the-mouth sensation as I bit into my first pineapple cake.

CHINESE PINEAPPLE CAKES

Ingredients:

For the Pineapple Filling

2 cans crushed pineapples, drained

1 cup granulated white sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup + 1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the Pineapple Pastry

250 grams cake flour

60 grams icing sugar, sifted

1/4 cup fat free milk powder

1/4 cup custard powder

180 grams cold unsalted butter

2 egg yolks, room temperature

Method:

  • In a medium, nonstick saucepan, add the drained crushed pineapples. Bring to a simmer on the stove.
  • Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes, until most of the excess liquid evaporates and mixture thickens.

  • Stir in the sugar, corn syrup and honey. Cook for about 40 minutes till it is thick with very little liquid.
  • Stir in the flour and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Pour filling into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap.

  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. To make pastry, add all ingredients except egg yolks into food processor.
  • Mix for about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks in and pulse for about 1 minute, until smooth dough forms.

  • Scoop out 1.5 tablespoons dough balls and shape between palms to form round balls and set these aside.
  • Take the pineapple filling from fridge and scoop out into 1 tablespoon filling and shape them into balls.

  • Make enough filling balls to match the dough balls. Lightly grease inside of the square molds with oil.
  • Take a sheet of plastic wrap and stretch it over a flat surface, keeping the plastic as smooth as possible.

  • Take one of dough balls and place it on top of the plastic wrap. Press it down until it spreads out thinly.
  • It should be shaped into a thin round of dough to be just big enough so that it will wrap over the filling.

  • Place filling ball in the middle of the round. Lift one side of plastic wrap, peel the round from that side.
  • You should be able to easily peel plastic off and bottom side of the round should be completely smooth.

  • Lift round completely from plastic wrap and cover pineapple filling with dough sealing the edge on top.
  • Try to smooth it as much as possible. Place dough ball inside square with the bunch up ends facing up.

  • Carefully push and spread dough until it spreads out across the square mold and fits inside completely.
  • Place mold, with smooth side facing up, on a baking sheet lined with silicone mat or parchment paper.

  • Preheat oven to 350 oF. While your oven is heating up, finish making the rest of your pineapple cakes.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes until top turn golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes.

  • After about 15 minutes, gently push cakes out molds. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature.
  • Store any uneaten pineapple cakes in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week. Makes 12.
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