Kirbie's Cravings

Pineapple cakes and other goodies from Taiwan

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

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.

Wife Cakes

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.

Handmade mochi

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.

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14 comments on “Pineapple cakes and other goodies from Taiwan”

  1. One of my very favorite treats is a Chia Te pineapple cake.  In fact, I just picked up my husband up from the airport and he brought home a box of them along with some milk cakes that he was able to pick up during his business trip to Asia.  I have searched San Diego for something that compares to the freshness and no added preservatives of the Chia Te brand and have yet to find.  If you know of a good local Chinese bakery that I should consider please share their name.  By the way, thank you again for the great demonstration at Macy’s over the weekend.  I plan to make your mug cake recipe very soon!

    • Hi DeeDee- Thank you for coming to the demo! Unfortunately, I have not come across anything in San Diego that tastes like Chia Te. Chia Te is my favorite as well and the brand I always ask my mom to bring me when she visits Taiwan. I’ve searched all over San Diego and also LA during my LA trips. I’ve tried nearly every brand offered at Ranch 99 as well as all the Asian bakeries, but I can’t find anything even close! If I ever do find something, I’ll try to let you know!
      Also, not sure if you came across this post, but this year I actually did try to make my own. They don’t taste like Chia Te, but they are very fresh with no added preservatives so I really enjoyed them:

  2. Is there a way to order the wife cakes? I’ve had them years ago when my brother got back from his mission and I’ve been hopelessly addicted but never able to find out what they were and here they are!

  3. Can the Chiate pineapple cakes be purchased in San Diego? If so where?

    • I believe that specific brand is only available in Taiwan. You can purchase other brands in San Diego. They have a lot of different ones in Ranch 99, and more upscale quality ones can be find in the chinese bakeries.

  4. They’re called Wife cakes because there was this legend where this couple had nothing to eat and the husband asked the wife to make something to eat and so she made this cake…really pastry…that was really filling out of winter melons which was the only thing that they had. And they named it wife cakes. The filling inside is made out of winter melon

  5. I’m a half-Taiwanese and your post brings me back great memories! 😀 Thank you for it! 😀

  6. My family is from Taiwan and whenever my parents come back they always bring me these desserts. There’s no comparison in America, even with the bakeries in Chinatown in New York City where I live. It’s nice to see them get a little more love here in the states!

    • I know what you mean. I don’t have any desire to buy the pineapples in the US, but I love eating the ones in Taiwan

  7. Wow the cake looks delicious, Taiwan is known to be a place of great delicacies. Great photos. Thanks for sharing.

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