Two more Taiwanese classics that I think deserve their own wee post are pineapple cakes and mango shaved (more like snow) ice. Pineapple cakes are to Taiwan as mochi is to Japan and are often the choice food gift for friends abroad. I’ve tried many “award winning” cakes, but none compare with the buttery exterior and the perfectly balanced and fragrant interior of Chia Te‘s cakes.
Other cakes are either too dry or too sweet — I guarantee that after one bite of these cakes you won’t be able to go back to your old ones! I keep telling myself to save one for a photo but the cakes always seem to end up in my mouth before I have a chance to take a picture.
Traditional shaved ice is made by grinding ice, then flavouring it with fruit syrups or condensed milk, with the texture being more like finely crushed ice and therefore slightly on the crunchy side. What sets Taiwanese shaved ice apart from i.e., Japanese shaved iced (かき氷), is the fine, snow-like quality of the ice. There is also Taiwanese snow ice (雪花冰), which we didn’t have a chance to eat this time, but it also has a melt-in-your-mouth consistency and starts out more like a very light ice cream and comes out in a ribbon of velvety fine snow.
In my experience, Taiwanese shaved ice is actually smoother and creamier than the ice cream that is served with it. It is good all year round but of course especially refreshing on a hot and humid summer day. What are some of your favourite Taiwanese treats?