Fragrant, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pineapple tarts are even more delicious when made with home-made pineapple jam (filling) and the perfect sweet shortcrust pastry dough.
Last week, I thought I’d get working on my list of must-have, home-made, festive Chinese New Year goodies (and at the same time, pen a series of posts on said goodies), starting with a durian Indonesian layer cake (durian lapis).
Next up, are these fragrant, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pineapple tarts. Not only are these home-made, but also completely hand-made, using freshly prepared pineapple paste and pastry dough. The recipe is one handed down to me by a very good friend – the method is traditional, yet amazingly simple, and makes wonderfully delicious pineapple tarts.
I must admit that I’m just a little greedy though – I’m sorry, but when it comes to pineapple tarts, I can’t help myself.
I don’t like them small, skinny, or in one-mouthful portions. Uh uh.. no cute or dainty little tarts on my plate – on the contrary, the chunkier, the better, the more to devour, and to savour.
But that’s just how I enjoy them, and obviously, with home-made pineapple tarts, you can make them as small or as big as you like, and in whatever shape you fancy – balls, mini sausages, rolls, open-faced tarts, etc. Really, you can get as creative as you like!
These home-made, hand-made pineapple tarts do make for quite a bit of work, but for some reason, I’ve always found baking these goodies to be highly therapeutic and enjoyable.
What makes me go through all the effort every year is how immensely satisfying it is to see family and friends appreciate and savour them .
When making these tarts, I have found it easiest to spread the tasks over 2 days, such as a weekend, (or even 3 days, if you only have time in the evenings after work).
I usually prepare and cook the pineapple paste in one afternoon, at least a day or two ahead of baking day. Then, over a couple of hours on a weekend, I’ll prepare the pastry dough, and then fill, shape, and bake the tarts.
By the way, you don’t need to make home-made pineapple paste if you don’t fancy cutting, grating and cooking for hours in your kitchen, although I can almost guarantee you, that once you’ve had a taste of home-made pineapple jam-filled tarts, you’re not likely to ever have quite the same appreciation for commercially produced ones.
If using ready-made commercial pineapple paste, just follow the recipe for preparing the pastry dough, then roll out, fill and shape as desired. Enjoy!
PINEAPPLE PASTE (RECIPE & METHOD)
- 6 pineapples, slightly ripened
- 8 oz rock sugar (use less or more, according to taste)
- 3 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 star anise segments
- 1/8 tsp salt, or to taste
Wash, and cut off the top and bottom of each pineapple. Trim off the skin all around. Eye spots will all line up in diagonal rows on the pineapple. Cut V-shaped grooves along the diagonal line to remove each set of eye spots. Then cut each pineapple into half, lengthwise.
Prepare a clean, large bowl to collect the grated pineapple flesh and juice mixture. Place the grater in the bowl, and grate each pineapple half, until you reach the core. Discard the core. (Note: Do wear handgloves as the acidity of the juices can 'bite' into your hands).
Strain the grated mixture into a large pot. leaving enough juices mixed in with the grated flesh for cooking.
Transfer the strained mixture into a large wok, and heat up over a medium heat. When the mixture comes to a gentle boil, add the spices. Do NOT keep stirring the mixture, do it only occasionally. When stirring, use a wok chan or spatula, stir around the edges, always scooping the mixture from the bottom to the top all around.
As the juices reduce, stir the mixture more often, to prevent browning or burning at the bottom of the wok. When more than half the liquid has evaporated, add the rock sugar (in portions), continue to boil until dissolved. Taste, and add more, to your taste, depending on how sweet or sour the pineapples are.
As the mixture gets drier and more paste or jam-like, reduce heat to low, and stir frequently to prevent burning. Lastly, add salt, again to taste.
When done, the mixture should be paste-like, appear glossy and golden brown in colour. The paste is fairly dry, but not dry to the touch. Let the paste cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate overnight (the mixture will thicken slightly when cooled). Take 1-teaspoon portions (slightly heaped), and shape into balls, or desired shape.
#1. It is advisable to do a taste test by tasting how sweet or sour your batch of pineapples are. If the pineapples are just ripening, the juices are likely to be sweeter, and so you may wish to reduce the sugar amount according to your taste. If the juices are more sourish, then you may need to add more sugar during the cooking. Add sugar gradually, until the mixture is to your desired level of sweetness.
PASTRY DOUGH (RECIPE & METHOD)
- 15 oz plain flour
- 5 oz self-raising flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 12 oz butter, cold
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 - 3 drops egg yellow colouring (optional)
- 2 tbsp raw sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 tbsp boiling hot water
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp water
- 1 - 2 drops egg yellow colouring (optional)
Sift flours and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine eggs, vanilla extract, and egg yellow colouring.
Using your fingers, rub butter cubes into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Add sugar, salt, and the egg mixture, and work into the flour mixture, using your fingers or a dough scraper, until well incorporated.
Add boiling-hot water, and continue to work into the flour-egg mixture until well incorporated, and the dough begins to come together. Place into a plastic bag, and from the outside of the bag, lightly knead the dough into a compact ball. Tightly secure the bag, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (Please see Recipe Notes)
If you require a lot of pastry dough to make larger quantities of tarts (for example, double or triple the recipe quantity), it is advisable to separate into 2 to 3 bags of dough.
FILLING, SHAPING & BAKING
Estimated Time: 2 hours
(1). Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F). Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
(2). Break the chilled dough into half, returning the other half to the refrigerator to keep chilled until needed. Roll out the dough, between sheets of baking paper, into a flat sheet, about 2 to 3-mm in thickness.
(3). Using a 6-cm round cutter, cut individual dough pieces. Place the pineapple filling in the centre, seal the edges, and shape as desired into round or oval-shaped tarts. Using a small pair of food scissors, make v-shaped slits in rows, on the top of the tart (optional). Place tarts, slightly apart, on the prepared baking tray. Brush the tops and sides lightly with egg wash.
(4). Bake in the lower half of the oven for 15 mins at 180 deg C (350 deg F), then lower oven temperature to 150 deg C (300 deg F) and bake for another 10 to 15 mins, or until tarts turn golden brown. Transfer tarts to a cooling rack. Increase oven temperature to 180 deg C (350 deg F) for baking the next batch of tarts. Repeat the process until all the pastry dough and/or fillings are used up.
(5). When the pineapple tarts have cooled completely, stack neatly into air-tight containers, which can be sealed (if preferred) with scotch tape around the lid, to keep air out. They keep well in sealed containers, in a cool and dry place, for up to 2 weeks.