It’s that time of the year for Pineapple tarts!!! I love love love this Chinese New Year cookie! Pineapple in Hokkien is “Ong Lai” which means “luck is coming” which is very auspicious and also very apt as a food to bring in the new year. I remember asking my mom to send over a couple of jars of these delicious crumbly tarts to the UK when I was in university. I savoured every bite.
This year I thought I’d try making this on my own. If I ever have children/grandchildren I’d want them to have fond memories of “Mom’s or Amah’s” kitchen. God knows my mom can’t cook and is ticking time bomb in the kitchen.
So here is my second batch of cookies! The first batch came out sloppy and slightly burnt as I was lazy and followed other recipes and baked at a temperature of 170 degrees celsius. Not a good idea.
Pineapple Jam (Makes 1.6 kg worth of jam)
5 1.5kg average sized Malaysia honey pineapples
3 cups sugar (or more if the pineapples aren’t sweet)
1-2 sticks cinnamon
1 star anise
25 gram butter
Makes around 1.6kg worth of jam
Pastry for 400g of jam:
200gm salted butter (cut up into smaller chunks and freeze it before use)
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup corn flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar or baking powder
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
7-8 tsp ice water
2 more egg yolks for glazing
- Remove the outer skin, leaves of the pineapple and cut out the “eyes” of the pineapple. Instead of wasting all that pineapple by slicing off the the sides with the eyes, it would be better to cut the eyes out in grooves instead as seen in the pictures below.
2. Some recipes call for the core to be removed and trashed but I think the jam needs fibre to hold it together. Thus I use the core. It helps that the pineapples are ripe and sweet and the core is not hard and tough.
3. Separate the core and the softer flesh such as below. They will be blended separately. If the flesh is too soft and the core is too tough you’ll end up with liquid flesh and large chunky bits of the core. However, if your core is pretty soft then just skip this step.
4. Cut up the pineapples into manageable chunks and blend the core and flesh separately. Don’t over blend, the fibre makes it easy to roll the jam later on.
5. Pour the blended pineapple into a colander and strain the excess pineapple juice out. Do this if you don’t want to spend an extra hour stirring the jam over a hot stove.
6. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a non stick wok and add the star anise and cinnamon sticks. Pour in the strained pineapple and the sugar and stir every couple of minutes over medium heat to ensure that the bottom doesn’t burn.
7. Stir until the jam thickens, turns golden and most of the excess moisture has been cooked out. Remember, if the jam is too moist, it will be hard to roll the jam and will spill out of the pastry. If the jam is too dry it could burn easily in the oven and makes for an unpleasant eating experience. The picture below shows an ideal jam texture (ideal to me that is).
8. Let the jam cool and refrigerate overnight. It is so much easier to handle the jam when it is cold. If you find that you’ve made too much jam, just freeze the excess.
9. Have a drink of strained pineapple juice before starting on the pastry 🙂 It’s delicious cold and no additional sugar is required if your pineapple was sweet to begin with.
10. Starting on the pastry, sieve the plain flour, corn flour and cream of tartar into a mixing bowl before adding the sugar.
11. Using your finger tips, rub in the frozen butter and mix into the flour bit by bit until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. The idea is to have many little bits of cold butter covered in flour. This will give the biscuit a crumbly and thus “melt in your mouth” texture.
12. If your butter is starting to melt, put the mixture back into the freezer for a minute.
13. Beat the 2 egg yolks and vanilla essence in a separate bowl. Slowly mix this into the butter-flour mixture until just incorporated.
14. Add a few teaspoons of ice cold water to the bowl until the dough just comes together. Most recipes call for 5 teaspoons, sorry to say it took me a lot more than that to bind the crumbs together. Try not to go over 10 teaspoons though, and don’t overwork the dough, otherwise the pastry becomes tough and bread-like.
15. Lightly flour a clean board/kitchen surface area and rolling pin. Roll out the dough until it is 6mm in thickness.
16. Using your favourite cookie cutter, cut out the pastry into preferred shapes. Chill in the fridge for a couple of minutes.
17. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
18. Place the cookies into trays lined with baking paper and brush the top with egg yolk for that beautiful golden sheen when its baked.
19. Now this is important, you have to roll out the jam into balls before you even put the pastry dough into the oven. This is because you will be baking the cookie for 10 minutes without the jam, and you’ll need to take the cookies out and place the jam in the centre before baking it for another 15 minutes.
Because I was lazy and sloppy, my jam was uneven and came out slightly burnt as I baked the tarts with the jam right from the start. This was my first batch:
Pretty sad even though it still tasted good.
So yes. 1) Pre-roll the jam. 2) Bake the cookie for 10 minutes 3) Add the jam balls to the cookie 4) Bake for another 15 minutes
Then you get this!!
Beautiful golden tarts with even coloring !
20. Let the cookies cool on a rack before eating/storing. Try to finish the cookies within 3 days 🙂 enjoy!