Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pineapple Cakes

Last year I traveled to Asia for the first time.  As in traveling to any new place, I was excited to see my family, but I was also excited to have a new place to explore.  Not only would I see a great deal of Hong Kong during my stay there, but I was also fortunate enough to be able to travel into China and see a small piece of the mainland.  In addition to seeing a bunch of new places, I was able to try a lot of new food.  While the sweets are not as sweet as they are in the U.S., they were still present and very good.  Once of my favorites was a pineapple cake.  You could find them individually packaged in a sort of bakery just for these types of sweets.  I didn't think that I would be able to find them in the U.S., but they are available in Asian grocery stores....the unfortunate part was they didn't taste the same.  So in my nature is to find something which I would be able to make at home and here it is....this recipe is adapted from two I found online.  This version has a crumbly almost pie like outside instead of a firmer more cake-like texture.  Both are delicious as once you bit into the pineapple, all the flavors meld together.

Pineapple Cakes
Makes 24 pineapple cakes.
2½ cups flour
⅛ teaspoon. baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons nonfat milk powder, sifted to break up lumps
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup shortening (I used butter flavored)
½ cup powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
1 recipe Pineapple Paste (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and milk powder together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Place the butter, shortening and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg yolks and beat on medium-low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
  3. Stop the mixer and add half of the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until most of the flour has been absorbed. Add the remaining flour and beat until all of the flour has been absorbed, 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and beat 1 minute. Divide the dough into 2 even pieces and roll each piece into a 10-inch log. Wrap each log tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
  4. Cut each log into 12 even pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Use a tablespoon measure to divide the pineapple paste into 24 evenly sized 1-tablespoon balls.
  5. Place a dough ball in the palm of your hand and flatten into a disk.  Divide dough in half and flatten each part.  Pat into a small tart pan.  Place a teaspoon or more if you wish of pineapple paste in the center of the disk, place the other half of the dough on top and pinch shut
  6. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.. Place the tart pan on wire racks to cool 10 minutes before transferring the cakes to the racks to cool completely.  They can be tricky to remove from the tart pans.  After letting them cook thoroughly they are easier to remove.
Pineapple Paste
Makes 1½ cups pineapple paste

12 oz. (weight) peeled, cored, diced pineapple (from 1 pineapple)
1 pound, 4 ounces of peeled, seeded, diced winter melon (from about 2½ pounds winter melon wedges)
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup agave syrup

  1. Finely chop pineapple and melon.  Pour into a dutch oven.  Cook the combined mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the winter melon begins turning translucent, about 20 minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium, add the sugar, and cook until the mixture has thickened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Stir in the agave syrup and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick, sticky, and uniformly light amber in color, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Transfer mixture to a shallow bowl and refrigerate until cool.
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