Pineapples are synonymous with Chinese New Year. In Hokkien (one of the Chinese dialects), it is pronounced as “Ong Lai” which means “the arrival of wealth”. That probably explains why pineapples are often used as offerings during prayers besides being used in cooking. They are also used to make cookies and snacks.
In Malaysia, the pineapple tarts are tangy, sweet and simply delightful with a hint of spices such as cinnamon and star anise. These cookies are commonly served during Chinese New Year. However, in Taiwan, pineapple tarts or more commonly known as pineapple cakes are not seasonal. They are sold throughout the year and tourists from around the world buy them as souvenirs.
This year, instead of Nyonya Pineapple Tarts, I have decided to make some Taiwanese pineapple cakes. The differences are subtle but definitely worth mentioning.
The Taiwanese version is much softer and buttery in taste and flavour compared to the Malaysian Nyonya pineapple tarts which are tangier and slightly more crispy. So, which is tastier? I will have both anytime! I am loyal to the Malaysian Nyonya version, no doubt. However, I decided to make the Taiwanese pineapple cakes this year for a little variation. To be honest, this version is simpler too. Seriously, no fuss at all.
To successfully create the soft yet firm dough, the use of almond flour (or grounded almond) is needed. This helps to make the dough flakier compared to using wheat flour.
If almond flour is omitted, the dough would end up dense. Just like the dough for Nyonya Pineapple Tarts, it is not supposed to be kneaded for too long. It is best to use a rubber spatula to bring the ingredients together after using a mixer to beat the eggs, butter and sugar.
I baked these cookies 10 days ahead of Chinese New Year with the intention of enjoying them during the festive season but they were all devoured within 2 days! Needless to say, I was pleased with the outcome. I had no choice but to bake a second batch of these delectable pineapple cakes. This time, I made sure to store them in a container secured with an adhesive tape to stop myself from devouring them before the actual celebration. They can be kept for up to 2 months in airtight containers although I doubt they could last that long once you get your hands on them.