A couple of weeks ago, James and I made some pineapple tarts to rein in the Year of the Horse (pun fully intended). We spent a good three hours slaving over the stove, making the pineapple jam. Yes, if you’re gonna make the precious jam from scratch, it will take the puréed pineapple a very long time to cook down to a good, viscous consistency that is firm enough to shape. But all the effort paid off and we ended up with some very delicious and – dare I say – authentic pineapple jam, perfect for sitting atop some buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pastry.
For those who don’t know, pineapple tarts are a popular Chinese New Year snack that traditionally make their appearance around the festive season without fail. There are many different versions of this sweet treat, but none quite as famous or adorable as the flat, open-faced tart sporting a dollop of deep golden jam sitting neat and pretty on top.
We didn’t have the right pastry cutter for the base, but made do with a simple cookie cutter I bought a couple of years ago that I never quite utilised as much as I thought I would. They made lovely shapes that were just the right size for the jam to sit on. The result? Cute little bite-size tarts that wouldn’t look out-of-place at a festive Chinese New Year pot luck.
Homemade Pineapple Tarts
a “festive cookie” that is popular during chinese new year in singapore & malaysia.
for the jam
2 medium pineapples
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
for the pastry
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons corn flour
4 tablespoons icing sugar
a pinch of salt
225g butter, softened
2 egg yolks
Preparing the Jam
- Skin the pineapples and cut them into small chunks. Then, briefly purée the chunks in a blender.
- Add the purée to a medium-sized saucepan with the sugar and cinnamon stick.
- Simmer on low heat, stirring frequently until the mixture is reduced to about 20% and the colour changes to a dark gold. This may take several hours. Do not let the mixture boil or the jam will burn!
- Once the mixture reaches a desired viscous state, remove from heat, spoon mixture into bowl (discard cinnamon stick), cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until needed.
Note: Try to drain as much liquid from the pineapple as you can before cooking. This will speed up the cooking time. You can do this by squeezing the freshly-cut pineapple pieces and leaving them in a colander to drain any excess liquid. Also, use a wider and slightly shallower pan when cooking the jam for easier reduction. And always remember to stir frequently!
Preparing the Pastry
- To make the pastry, combine flour, corn flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Mix well.
- Chop the butter into cubes, then cut the butter into the flour mixture (or rub butter into the flour with fingers) until the mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg yolks and combine thoroughly, kneading the mixture until it no longer sticks to your hands.
- With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to desired thickness (about 1cm thick is good) and cut out desired shapes, placing them on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.
- Roll the chilled pineapple jam into small balls. Put a jam ball on top of each pastry cut-out and slightly flatten the balls out with your palm.
- Add a small pinch of pastry from leftover dough scraps on top of the jam for decoration.
- Bake at 180°C for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden. Once baked, transfer tarts to a wire rack to cool completely before eating (they will be a little crumbly when hot, but will firm up after cooling). The tarts may be stored in an air tight container for up to a week.