I always have to save a lot of room in my suitcase for snacks from Taiwan on my trip back. The prohibition on meat and fruits and vegetables limit my options greatly, but I still load up on other snacks.
There are a few staple items I always get for myself and to give as gifts to friends. I thought I’d share a few pictures before I dived in and ate them.
Pineapple cakes are popular in Taiwan and can be found at almost every bakery. Every place makes their own and claims to be the best. A few years ago we really enjoyed the ones from Chia Te. Ever since then, my aunt always gets them for us to take home.
Pineapple cakes have a shortbread-like exterior which crumbles upon touch. The inside is filled with a pineapple jam-like filling. One of these days, I want to try making my own. These are probably the most requested item people ask me to bring from Taiwan. And don’t let the plain appearance fool you. These cakes are usually sold for about $1 a piece.
I honestly have no idea where the name comes from. There are two variations of this cake. One is called Sun Cakes, and the other is called Wife Cakes. Both have the same filling, but the difference is in the skin. Sun Cakes have a thicker pastry skin and Old Wife Cakes have a thinner skin. Each is filled with a sweet maltose filling. The “cakes” are actually shaped like cookies. The skin is a flaky pastry that breaks up a lot and can get quite messy when you are eating it.
I prefer Wife Cakes over Sun Cakes. The pastry exterior is a little dry, so I like that the Old Wife Cakes uses a thinner skin.
It’s hard to find Taiwanese style handmade mochi these days. In the U.S. all I can find are Japanese mochi and processed Chinese mochi. While I like mochi in almost any form, Taiwanese handmade mochi is my favorite. A lot of the bakeries in Taiwan now offer other forms of mochi and have gone away from the handmade ones.
I previously blogged about a store called Pau Chuan, which makes handmade mochi. On this trip, during a day trip to Yilan, we found a bakery famous for their handmade mochi. Taiwanese handmade mochi is chewier than machine made mochi. It’s also a little less sweet. These don’t keep well. You have to freeze them if you don’t eat them right away. And even then, you are supposed to eat them in a week.