It is, I suppose, fairly telling of how traditional I am that this site has now seen five Chinese New Years gone by and nary a pineapple tart recipe in all that time.
Especially since almost everyone I know- even the ones who proclaim themselves to be non-bakers- religiously brings out their pineapple tart cookie cutters and shredders to make pineapple tarts every time Chinese New Year draws close.
But this year, in an effort to get in touch with my Asian roots a little more, I decided it was high time I do a little more than just eat my way through Chinese New Year and, armed with a old recipe my mum got from a friend years ago, finally get on the bandwagon and make myself some pineapple tarts.
For those who are not quite familiar with this traditional cookie, pineapple tarts are the quintessential Chinese New Year treat. Essentially a disc of pastry usually cut out with a pineapple tart cookie cutter, topped with a sweet, thick pineapple jam and then baked until golden brown, you would be hard pressed to walk into any Asian bakery or any household celebrating Chinese New Year during the festive period and not find jars after jars of these addictive, bite sized cookies.
But the disc of pastry and dollop of pineapple jam are pretty much the only similarities most pineapple tarts share, for the texture of both the pastry and jam can vary significantly even with store-bought tarts depending on the bakery you buy them from.
I personally prefer my pineapple tarts with a buttery, crisp pastry and a slightly coarse pineapple jam so it was with that in mind that I went about making my first ever batch of pineapple tarts; cooking my finely chopped pineapples into a sticky, caramelized jam and whipping up the tart dough with the aid of my electric mixer.
And so after about an hour of stamping out the cookies, imprinting them with their signature swirl (which I admittedly gave up after imprinting half a tray’s worth of cookies, figuring they really wouldn’t make much of a difference once the pastry discs were all topped with little balls of pineapple jam), brushing them with egg wash and topping them with a ball of pineapple jam, I finally pulled my first tray of pineapple tarts out of the oven with much anticipation.
As it turns out, the pineapple tarts were thankfully everything I had hopes they would be; tender yet firm discs of pastries topped with a slightly coarse, caramelized pineapple jam. I had one just out of the oven and found myself polishing off my third tart before I even realized it.
So while these pineapple tarts might look a little different from the smooth jam, imprinted ones you see selling at bakeries every year this time of the year, they sure were just as delicious.
And I’m pretty sure, even though I don’t uphold most Chinese New Year traditions and can’t communicate my dialect to save my life, my Asian ancestors would be proud of me for taking one step closer to my roots this Chinese New Year.
Pineapple Tarts [slightly adapted from a friend of my mum's recipe]Note: As mentioned before, this recipe makes for some buttery and firm pastry discs and slightly coarse pineapple jams the way I like them but feel free to puree the pineapples before cooking them down if you prefer your jam smooth. Also, I’m not sure if it’s my cookie cutter or if my dough was too firm right out of the fridge but I had a little trouble getting the pattern on the cookie cutter to imprint firmly on my pastry discs. But imprints aside, I was really pleased at how well these turned out. And now that I’ve had my first run with Chinese New Year baking, you can bet there will be no stopping me this festive period!
455g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
100g milk powder
500g plain flour
210g self raising flour
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
3 fresh pineapples, chopped finely
400g sugar, adjust to taste and sweetness of the pineapples
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cinnamon sticks
1 egg, lightly whisked, for glazing tarts
- To make tart dough Sift the plain and self raising flour, milk powder and salt together and set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well to combine. Fold the flour mixture in thoroughly till the dough comes together.
- Divide the tart dough into four equal portions. Roll each portion out between two sheets of baking paper about 1/2 cm thick. Refrigerate for at least half an hour or until the dough firms up.
- To make pineapple jam Combine all ingredients together in a pot. Bring the mixture to a boil before lowering the heat and letting the mixture simmer for about 45 to 60 minutes, stirring frequently, until thick and slightly sticky. Cool completely before using the jam.
- To assemble Preheat the oven at 175C. Line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside.
- Using a pineapple tart cookie cutter, cut as many tarts as you can out of each portion of tart dough and place them 2 cm apart on the prepared baking sheets. Brush the tarts with the egg wash and top each tart with a rounded dollop of pineapple jam.
- Bake the tarts for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the the edges of the tarts are light golden brown. Let the tarts cool completely on the baking sheets before storing them in an airtight jar. Makes about 150 tarts