Ushering in Chinese New Year: Pineapple tarts

It has barely been a month after Christmas and we are about to usher in Chinese New Year. For the Chinese population in Singapore, Chinese New Year is one of the biggest festive seasons in the year, bigger than Christmas, bigger than New Year.

In preparation for Chinese New Year, every Chinese household will do some form of spring cleaning, put up festive decorations in red and gold, and there will also be the exchange of gifts amongst family and friends (gifting of food items like bak kwa, pineapple tarts, egg rolls,  年糕  etc).

Though I’m not the most traditional, I still enjoy my Chinese New Year snacks, especially pineapple tarts. During visits to the homes of relatives and friends, I will definitely zoom in on the pineapple tarts. I wonder how many of these innocent-looking morsels do I consume each Chinese New Year. I rather not keep track of that.

For those of you whom are unfamiliar with this pastry: pineapple tarts are bite-sized  treat made with a sweet shortcrust pastry and pineapple jam (made by cooking and reducing fresh pineapples with sugar and spices). They generally come in two forms: open-faced tart or an enclosed tart (like the one I made).

Even though I’m a purist when it comes to food and I generally believe that I should make everything from scratch if I can,  I did not make my own pineapple jam for these tarts. No shame though!

Cooking and reducing your own pineapple jam can take a very long time – you need to grate your pineapple and then keep cooking and stirring it on a large-surface pan over the stove. That can take up two-three hours depending on the amount you are making. Hats off to those of you making your very own jam!

This year, I decided that I would  focus on making a good pastry and spend the time making more tarts.

After a little experiment and tweaking, I manage to fine-tune my recipe for the pastry which was initially a little dry and flaky.

The pastry that I  now have is buttery, crumbly and melt in your mouth. I like it a lot.

A container-full of pineapple tarts has vanished over the weekend. That’s definitely a good sign.

However, I can’t help but wonder if I would have any(if at all) pineapple tarts left for Chinese New Year. That’s a happy problem to have!

Jo

Recipe: Pineapple tart pastry
Enough to make 60 pineapple tarts

I used this pastry for covered pineapple tarts. It’s just the way I like it. It crumbles gently as you take the first bite and then melts in your mouth into buttery goodness.

If you are brave enough to make your own pineapple jam, please head to my homemade pineapple jam post.

340g plain flour
3 tbsp cornflour
5 tbsp icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar
250g unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
approximately 3 tbsp of iced water

For the egg wash:

1 egg yolk
a pinch of salt (for flavour)
a dash of milk (will help darken the colour of the crust)

1. Sift the dry ingredients and then put it in the freezer to chill for about 5 minutes. You can do this while you prepare your other ingredients.

2. Add the cubed butter to the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter, combine the butter and the dry ingredients into a sandy-crumb like mixture. It will still look a little dry at this point.

3. Add in the lightly beaten egg yolks and vanilla extract and combine with pastry cutter. Add in 3 tbsp of iced water at this point. Add only as much water as needed until pastry comes together into a dough. Try to work the dough as little as possible as you do not want to overwork the gluten in the flour.

4. Divide the dough into two flat discs and clingwrap it. Leave it in the fridge to chill and rest for at least an hour.

Assemble pineapple tarts:

about 600g pineapple paste or homemade pineapple jam

1. Portion dough out into 12g portions. Portion out pineapple jam/paste into 9g portions and roll them into balls. You can do this in advance and chill in the fridge for them to firm up so they will be easier to work with.

2. Roll out dough with a rolling pin under cling wrap (so it doesn’t stick easily). Place pineapple ball in the middle of the dough. Use palms to round it and shape it like a log.

3. Space the rolled tarts about 1/2 inch apart. Chill the tray of unbaked tarts for about 20 minutes for them to firm up and to relax the gluten. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius.

4.  Using the back of a paring knife(or a fork), make criss-cross patterns so that the tart resembles a pineapple.

5. Brush the tarts with egg wash. Be careful not to drip excess egg wash onto the baking paper or it will burn.

6. Bake your pineapple tarts on the center rack of your pre-heated oven (180 degrees celcius) for about 20 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown. For the last 5 minutes of baking, shift the tray of tarts to the top rack so that the top continues browning but the bottom does not burn.

*Tips for making pineapple tart pastry:

1. Like working with any form of pastry dough, you should work the dough as little as possible. You don’t want to develop the gluten if not the pastry will be very tough.

2. Always give your pastry dough time to rest in the fridge. Again, we are resting the gluten and keeping the dough chilled would mean that the butter  in the dough would not be melting.

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About jothetartqueen

My first love is eating. A very close second is my love for baking and cooking. I passionately believe that the best form of appreciation of something is almost always through the creation of it. This passion took me on a whirlwind, unforgettable ride through the patisserie diploma course at Le Cordon Bleu (Sydney). Join me on my discovery for the love of food – through the kitchen, through the markets, through experimenting, tasting and loving.
This entry was posted in Baking, Festive, Food, Recipe, Tarts & Pies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Ushering in Chinese New Year: Pineapple tarts

  1. I have never had these before, are they sweet? Most of the time, when I have chinese sweets (re: moon cakes) they are defined as “sweet” but are very nutty and not, say, strawberry cheesecake sweet. Maybe these pineapple tarts are a better compromise for my tastes?

    • The pastry itself is not sweet but the pineapple filling is. Imagine pineapples being caramelised with sugar..and It’s really basically a jam wrapped in pastry. 😉 try it if you happen to come across them.

  2. eleanor says:

    Was just wondering if you might have a recipe for pineapple jam, even though you didn’t make any this time? Would love to try it, I am addicted to pineapple!
    Thanks,
    Eleanor
    http://www.mysubjunctive.wordpress.com

  3. Hi Eleanor,
    you share the same love for pineapples like me! I’ve included the recipe for pineapple jam below. This is for making pineapple tarts so the texture is paste-like and it has a fibrous texture (from the grating of the pineapple). I don’t think it’s ideal if you are thinking of a spreadable jam for your breads.

    but anyway, here’s the recipe for pineapple jam:

    2 large pineapples (would suggest using half-ripen ones so you can control the sweetness), grated
    200g sugar
    2 cinnamon sticks
    3 cloves
    2 star- anise
    juice from a lemon

    Method:
    1. Cut and grate your pineapples. Discard the cores. Separate the juice from the grated mixture by using a sieve.
    2. Put the grated pineapples sans juice in a large-surface area pot. Add in the spices, lemon juice and 1/3 of the sugar. Heat it up over medium to high fire and stir from time to time.
    4. After it has come to boil, add a quarter of the pineapple juice and stir it. Cook it over medium to medium-low fire. Let the pineapple juice evaporate and add in more pineapple juice and repeat until almost all the juice has been evaporated.
    2. Add in the remaining sugar (or to desired sweetness).
    3. The final mixture should look caramelised and dry. You should aim for a golden-brown, sticky and dry mixture. The cooking of the jam should take approximately 1 1/2 hours.
    4. Discard the spices and allow mixture to cool before storing them in sterilised glass jars. This can keep for about 1-2 months in the fridge.

  4. Pingback: The Sunshine Award on my 100 Posts ! | Mama Miyuki Easy Pantsy

  5. Hello, You have inspired me a lot. So, I have nominated your blog for the Sunshine Award. You can see your nomination here and get an idea of the rules. 🙂

    http://cookingwithmamamiyuki.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/the-sunshine-award-on-my-100-posts/

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  8. Lala says:

    Hi Jo, why is my dough so sticky? It’s very wet after adding water? Is it the correct way? How does the dough supposed to feel like?

  9. Hi Lala,
    it shouldn’t be sticky/wet to touch. The dough should just come together (into a ball) and should smooth. Either the butter is too melted when you made the dough or too much water was added. Try to add water until the dough combines together. You may need a little more or a little less than suggested by the recipe due to humidity conditions.

    You can try letting the dough chill in the fridge for an hour. This may help make the dough easier to work with, less sticky. You can dust some flour over the dough before rolling if it’s still hard to handle. This is the best solution to salvage this dough now.

    • Lala says:

      Hi Jo, thx for the reply. I bake with the rather sticky dough, it turned out well. Just that the kneading part was a pain. Haha. I have lots more to make, will ensure that the butter is not too soft when rubbing in. Many thanks again.

      • Lala says:

        Hi Jo, is it due to adding 2tbsp of nespray milk powder? Will it affect the dough? I did add that. :p

      • I haven’t tried adding milk powder to this recipe so I can’t comment on how it will affect the dough or pastry.

        I don’t think that it will make the dough sticky since it’s a dry ingredient. but it may affect the pastry’s texture when you bake it.

      • Yup i think most likely, it would be the butter..the butter should give way to some pressure when you press it, but it should not be totally soft) before you incorporate it with the dry ingredients. Otherwise, the dough will be very hard to work with. Hope this helps!

        But glad to hear that it turned out well after all trouble. Good luck with the rest of your baking!

  10. Chloe says:

    I made pineapple tarts using your dough and jam recipe. They taste great thanks! I was wondering, how long can I keep them for if I put them in the fridge? Thank you!

    • Hi Chloe,

      Great to hear that your pineapple tarts turned out great!

      You should keep it in an airtight container and leave them at room temperature. Thats what I normally do. Or you can use plastic containers and seal them with scotch tape. I have kept them for a month without them spoiling.

      Don’t think you should keep them in the fridge as the pastry will start to absorb moisture (as well as odours) and become softened (or soggy).

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  14. Zai says:

    Hi Jo, can I use this pastry recipe for open tarts?

  15. Charlene says:

    Hi! Could this pastry be used for open faced tarts?

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