Yesterday was the last day of chinese new year. I missed it completely – not that I was going to do anything special but at least I won’t look like a doof and continue greeting friends with an enthusiastic ‘gong hei fatt choy’ (typical chinese greeting wishing others prosperity for the new year). This year’s ‘celebration’ for my half-white hubster and me included…hmm…nothing. The only thing that saved the dismal chinese heritage in me was the re-creation of one of our favourite chinese new year goodies – pineapple tarts.
Calling these cookies a tart can be very confusing because they are not tart-like in any way. Okay, the original version which I used to make may resemble a tart (somewhat). This was what I did back in London – using a shot glass, coke bottle cap and a knife (creatively unprofessional but hey, it worked!)
Until I get my hands on the actual pineapple tart mould (only available in Singapore/Malaysia), I shall only attempt this new version which is rolled up like a mini pillow – with the buttery, crumbly pastry encasing a little cocoon of sticky pineapple jam. Anyway, these pineapple tarts were lucky. Their existence (albeit a short one) came close to being nulled. I was ambitiously planning to make them in time for the first week of chinese new year. I even bought the pineapples but procrastination took over and the pineapples sat in the bags they came in for a week in the muggy summer heat, and rotted away. Ew…not nice.
I didn’t really want to disappoint the hubs – pineapple tarts are one of his faves – so I went and got new pineapples the following week and got down to it. With hands covered in dough and jam, I finally churned these pineapple pillows out. Those of you who are Australia Masterchef fans will know who Billy is. He’s the queen of desserts and I thought it will not be a bad move using his recipe. And it wasn’t a bad move. The pastry which is what makes or breaks the tarts, turned out the way I wanted it – all buttery and crumbly and melt-in-the-mouth-y.
The jam making process was straightforward enough – no dramas there, and I heeded Billy’s advice to pre-roll the jam before delving deep into pastry rolling and shaping. It seriously helped cut back on time and the potential mess it could create and the pre-rolled jam looked all cute and ready to play their part.
Considering I had 15 days of chinese new year and only managed to bake one batch of pineapple tarts, perhaps I should start planning for Easter now. What do people bake for Easter anyway?
Adapted from A Table for Two
Pineapple Jam Filling:
3 baby pineapples (or 2 cans of shredded pineapples)
200 gram sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 tbsp honey (or 150g liquid glucose)
2 tbsp wheat flour ( or all purpose flour)
1. Slice and grate pineapples till fine. You can use a food processor do grate it.
2. Strain the grated pineapple till dry.
3. Let it simmer in a pot till the juice dries up. Add sugar, star anise, cinnamon stick and clove.
4. Stir till the pineapple is thick and dry. Add honey (or liquid glucose)
5. Stir till the pineapple becomes sticky and jammy.
6. Add wheat flour. Continue to stir for about 10 minutes.
7. Leave to cool and shape into small balls.
250 gram butter
50 gram icing sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg yolk (for glazing)
350 gram plain flour (all purpose flour)
50 gram corn flour
IMPORTANT: YOU MUST first roll the pineapple jam filling into balls, resembling a silkworm cocooon. Set aside on a plate.
1. Cream butter and sugar together using an electric mixer until light. Beat in egg yolks one at a time, until well combined. Add vanilla essence and salt and whisk until fluffy.
2. Fold in sifted dry ingredients (plain flour & corn flour) and mix to form a dough. It should be a light crumbly shortbread texture.
3. Roll a tablespoonful of dough into a 5-7cm long tube in your palm, then gently press down with index finger to flatten the dough into an oblong shape, around 0.5cm thickness and 3-4cm wide. You will get the hang of it after a few trials.
4. Place the rolled-out pineapple jam ball on the edge of the strip and roll the dough to wrap around it to form a small elongated roll. Do not overlap pastry. Place the roll on a greased baking tray. Repeat until all dough mixture and jam filling is used up.
5. Preheat oven at 180°C. Use a fork and draw lines on top of the tarts. Brush the rolls with beaten egg yolk. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks before storing in an airtight jar.