Weirdly enough, I haven’t really done anything inspired by Taiwanese pineapple cake, basically ever. Part of it stems from the fact that cooking with pineapples are a pain in the butt – cutting them up takes forever, they have too much water to cook out, and the fibrous texture is not the most pleasant to deal with. With this recipe, I found that by slicing the pineapple suuuuuper thin, that alleviates most of those issues. When seared, the thin slices cook off the water faster, and therefore the fibers also soften when you expose them to heat. I wouldn’t say that this recipe is 100% perfect yet, but I am happy with this being version 1.0(2.0 will probably feature me making the pineapple equivalent of Turkish delight just an FYI)! With the actual batter of the madeleines, I went with using golden syrup. Golden syrup is basically a caramel that has been hit with lemon juice or citric acid of some sort, causing it to have this almost molasses-like texture to it. TONS of Asian pastries use golden syrup, including pineapple cakes and mooncakes, as it gives them their characteristic molasses-like flavor! I used the golden syrup in both the madeleine batter itself, and to help with caramelizing the pineapple pieces that I would then add to the madeleines.
For the components, we have the aforementioned golden syrup madeleines, and caramelized pineapple slices. For the pineapple, they are cut into super thin wedges and first seared off in butter to help cook through the fruit. Then we add in the golden syrup and rum to coax out more flavor from the fruit and to caramelize the exterior with. The pineapple pieces are baked into the madeleines, which themselves are made using a golden syrup spongecake batter, to create a fun contrast between sweet, caramel-y, and tart! They honestly taste quite similar to Taiwanese pineapple cake(think rich, buttery pastry surrounding a fudge-like pineapple jam) so I count that as a small win! Admittedly, the pineapple was the trickiest part, since undercook them, and they release too much liquid and possibly compromise the structure of the batter, and overcook them, and they’ll probably burn. I find that when in doubt, go low and slow with the heat of your pan and the pineapple will be perfectly cooked throughout!
For the golden syrup:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
a pinch of salt
In a pot, heat up the sugar on its own until it turns amber in color. Take off heat and stir in the other ingredients, only returning to low heat if the sugar is not fully dissolved. Keep lukewarm for the actual recipe, as it will be easier to use this syrup while it is still warm!
For the pineapple:
1/2 a pineapple, cut into thin wedges – the smaller and thinner the slices, the faster it’ll caramelize!
1 tbsp unsalted butter
a pinch of salt
3 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp rum
In a nonstick pan with butter and salt, sear the pineapple on each side, over medium heat, for 2-3 minutes. Once the exterior is golden brown, add in the golden syrup and rum and cook that down together on low heat until the pineapple is translucent in color. Separate out your pineapple pieces on a parchment-lined sheet tray to allow them to firm up and cool down.
For the madeleine batter:
Remainder of your golden syrup*(about 1/2 cup)
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp unsalted butter, fully melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
In a bowl, whip the eggs with golden syrup, salt, and vanilla until fluffy and pale yellow in consistency and color. In another bowl, sift the flour and baking powder into the melted butter first, then fold into that the whipped egg mixture. Transfer that batter into a piping bag. Brush a madeleine pan with butter and sugar. Pipe the madeleine batter about 80% the way full in each tin, then press in chilled down pieces of your pineapple. Allow the batter to rest in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes. Then bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.