If I had to choose only one Chinese New Year snack to eat for the rest of my life, it would definitely be pineapple tarts. Open, closed, round, oblong – I love them all. 😀 Chinese New Year is fast approaching – next week, in fact! – and if you have the time, try making some pineapple tarts yourself. Without preservatives, they don’t last more than a week. So if you want to have them just in time as gifts when you go visiting, one week prior to CNY is ideal.
Last year, I made pineapple jam from scratch. I slogged 3 hours over the stove, stirring the jam so it wouldn’t burn. Things would’ve been perfect if I didn’t randomly choose a closed tart recipe which used condensed milk and turned out really weird. Because the jam was enclosed, I could not separate the jam from the pastry after baking them. I was disappointed with the overall result even though the jam tasted superb.
I think there is no perfect pineapple tart recipe. Everyone’s perception of the perfect pineapple tart differs. Some like it sweet, some like it more sour, some like a more buttery pastry taste, some like a crumbly crust.
To guard against another weird recipe, I decided to go for open-faced tarts this year, so that in the event the pastry tastes weird, I can easily extricate the jam balls. I made my first batch which yielded 70 tarts in 3 hours. I had my mama come to my house, and together we achieved 150 tarts with the same amount of time. Obviously, the number of tarts made wasn’t a priority, it was the time I got to spend with my mum and the memories we made together. My mum found it hard to sit down – she’d try to sit, then after a couple of minutes find herself standing up again. Lol. She said it’s hard to do things when sitting down. I sat throughout, standing only when I needed to place or remove the trays into and from the oven.
The tarts tasted good and looked homemade – meaning imperfect and inconsistent. HAHA. That’s the beauty of homemade food, isn’t it! 😆 At least I finally found a pastry recipe that didn’t taste awkward or milky. Everyone who tasted these pineapple tarts loved it!
For the first batch, I used pineapple jam from Phoon Huat. For the second, I bought it from Sun Lik.
Store-Bought Pineapple Jam – Sun Lik Or Phoon Huat?
If you look at them from afar or just take a glance, you won’t be able to tell the difference. If you scrutinize, you might be able to tell them apart. But if you make them, the moment you roll them between your palms, you can feel the difference. The jam from Phoon Huat is smoother and finely milled, the jam from Sun Lik has more texture and the fibers are more prominent. Taste-wise, I think Phoon Huat’s is just 2 degrees sweeter and Sun Lik’s has a better bite.
I prefer the mold from Phoon Huat. I got an extra one for my mum from SKP and it kept getting stuck.
As mentioned above, I made pineapple jam from scratch last year. I used a pineapple corer to extract the flesh, blended it, cooked with spices and spent 3 hours watching the fire. The process was tough, but the result was tremendously rewarding. Because I could blend the pineapple exactly to the amount of bite I wanted and tweak the sweetness to my liking, it was really made to what I like. I guess since I can make pineapple jam from scratch, and now have the perfect pastry recipe, I might make the entire pineapple tart from scratch – next year. Heehee.
Here’s how I made pineapple jam from scratch:
- 2 pineapples
- 200g granulated sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick, about 1 inch
- 2 cloves
- Extract pineapple flesh with a corer so you don’t have to deal with skin or eyes.
- Blend the flesh with a food processor.
- Transfer the grated pineapple flesh to a ricer to extract the juice. Reserve the juice.
- Place grated pineapple, cinnamon stick, cloves and half the sugar into a pot. Use non-stick if possible.
- Every time the mixture starts to dry up, add a bit of pineapple juice. Simmer and add the juice bit by bit as the mixture dries up. Continue until all the juice is used up.
- Add in remaining sugar, adjust according to taste
- Turn to low heat and keep stirring until jam becomes sticky and dry. Keep a watchful eye so it doesn’t burn.
It took me about 3 hours. Some people make it under 2 hours, some people take even longer, depending on when the jam reaches your desired consistency and taste.
You don’t have to use the specific tools I used. I used them only because I like to be more productive in the kitchen. Instead of a corer, you can skin it manually. You can grate the pineapple manually too. A ricer is not a must, you can pass it through a sieve and press down using the back of a spoon.
I loved being able to actually bite pineapple fibres, something store-bought jam cannot replicate. So if you have three hours to spare, give this a go. =)
The recipe below for open-faced pineapple tarts is an adaptation from several recipes and makes 70 tarts.
- 227g-250g unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened at room temp
- 50g icing sugar
- 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 360g plain flour
- 40g corn flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg yolk + 1 teaspoon milk
- 500g store-bought pineapple jam
- Place butter (I used unsalted Lurpak) in a mixing bowl. Sift icing sugar into bowl. With an electric/standing mixer, cream butter and icing sugar till the mixture turns pale. Add in salt, whisk to combine.
- Add in the vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
- Dribble in the egg yolks and continue to whisk the mixture till fully incorporated.
- Sift flour into the mixture. Mix the mixture with your hand and lightly knead for a couple of minutes till the flour is incorporated into the dough (do not over work the dough).
- Divide dough into 4 small portions. Wrap each portion in cling film, and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm it up.
- Meanwhile, weigh and shape the pineapple jam to 6g balls.
- After 30 minutes of chilling, remove one portion of dough to work with.
- Dust work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough to 7mm thickness. After a while, you’ll be able to feel ‘7mm’ under your palm.
- Dust the mould with flour before cutting out the tart shells.
- Space tart shell 1cm apart on baking tray lined with parchment paper. Brush tart shells with egg wash.
- Bake the tart shells at 180°C (356°F) middle rack for 10 minutes.
- After baking, place a ball of pineapple jam on the cavity of each tart shell.
- Return tart shells back to oven to continue baking for 5 minutes until golden.
- When the pineapple tarts are cooled, store them in an air-tight container.
- I didn't really measure each ball to be 6g, I just winged it.
- When pressing down the mold on the dough, take care not too press too hard. It might make the base too thin and cause breakage later on.
- When packing into containers, you might want to place parchment paper or bubble wrap between each layer