Within the culinary arena, Taiwan can hold its own in a fairly vast range of foods, from soup noodles to shaved ice desserts. One would think that baking should fall under that umbrella as well, given the existence of the pineapple bun, pineapple cakes, and pretty much anything that consists of bread and red beans. The failure exists when they try to mimic the baked goods of other cultures... like macarons and chocolate mousse. Case in point, the cakes from a very well liked bakery near the 台大 (NTU) campus, Lamour.
Now, keep in mind, this is entirely my opinion... I'm rather mediocre at baking, and I'm probably not qualified to criticize, but I for one find cakes in Taiwan to be rather bland and boring. Let's start with the raspberry chocolate liqueur mousse seen above. The macaron was lacking in flavor, overly doughy, and seemingly missing any semblance of filling. Following the same theme, the mousse was subtle in flavor... almost too subtle. While the texture was light and airy, which was nice, the inner layer of raspberry was essentially a layer of thick gelatin, which made for an overly resilient center. Now I don't know if that was purposefully done to maintain the structural integrity, but it was certainly a detraction from the mousse itself.
The chocolate cake #704 wasn't really that bad (I mean, it's pretty hard to screw up a chocolate cake), but it also wasn't spectacular, which was what I had expected since this particular bakery draws such high praise from almost everyone. It was like one of those chocolate cakes you buy from a local deli's fridge, except with thinner, less sweet frosting. A tad lighter than most cakes found in America as well (I want to use the word airy for pretty much every cake I've had here).
To be completely fair, I think Taiwanese people have a different taste palate when it comes to cakes and other desserts normally associated with coffee or tea. They like things with a subtle sweetness, and more bitter than the average American flavor. That would certainly explain what I called a lack of flavor. Either way, color me disappointed. At the very least... they make pretty cakes, right?
Now, this probably shouldn't have been generalized to every single cakery in Taiwan, as I'm sure there's at least some remarkable ones, but as a whole, this is what I've experienced. Now I wait for people to tell me I'm dumb. PS - I knew that already.