Homemade Pineapple Tarts
This will now be our 11th Chinese New Year whilst living in Asia. Over the years I have started to appreciate and look forward to certain aspects of the various festivals and celebrations of our adopted region and Chinese New Year ticks all the boxes. It really is akin to our own New Year on December 31st - everyone takes time off, the schools close and many people travel to celebrate with family.
I love this time of year. I love seeing all the lion dance troupes bundled in the back of pick up trucks zooming around Singapore with brightly coloured flags flying. Or hearing the drum beat and clang of cymbals and know that around the corner a lion is performing the good luck ritual for a business or home. And one of my all time favourite treats - popular at this time of year - but let’s face it (like hot cross buns) delicious at any time of year, is the pineapple tart.
You will find these delicious little balls of pineapple goodness in all the shops at the moment, but this year I was really keen to learn how to make them myself. So I called up my good friend Angie Ma and said “hey, do you want to come over and show me how to make pineapple tarts..?” Lucky for me (and you!) she said yes.
I first heard of Angie when we lived in Hong Kong. She was a mythical person to me back then - the owner of a secret supper club that lots of my friends were attending. News of this underground secret supper club was spreading but I never had a chance to attend before we left Hong Kong. Fast forward many years later and our paths randomly crossed at a new-parent meet and greet at the school. Angie is one of the most vivacious, ‘can-do’ people I know and she is a passionate foodie. She recently re-established the secret supper club concept right here in Singapore. And it has been an instant hit. Tickets to attend sell out within hours of going online. ‘Once Upon A Secret Supper’ is held every few months and each dinner is themed around a particular cuisine or celebration. The menu is created by Angie and her team of passionate cooks and everything is made from scratch - each dinner is a labour of love and held in a secret private residence. Guests don’t know where the dinner will be held until 24 hours before and they have no idea what they will eat or who they will dine with until they arrive on the night. It’s a great concept.
Anyway, back to pineapple tarts. Turns out these little fruity cuties are actually quite easy to make - and definitely something fun to do with the kids. The folding up of the pastry dough into a perfectly little round ball may take a little patience and a bit of trial and error but you quickly get the hang of it. And the pineapple jam is delicious - in or out of the pastry - so I’m already thinking of other applications for this clove spiked tropical fruit jam.
HOMEMADE PINEAPPLE TARTS
350g butter (room temperature)
100g (5 tablespoons) condensed milk
510g plain flour
2 egg yolks
500g of ripe pineapple flesh (about 1 medium sized pineapple peel and cored)
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon of condensed milk
White sesame seeds for decoration
METHOD FOR PINEAPPLE JAM
Put the pineapple chunks into a food processor and pulse until you have a rough puree (you are looking for some texture to the puree as opposed to something completely smooth so go slowly with the food processor and keep pulsing until your get a rough puree). Place the rough pineapple puree and cloves in a saucepan on the stove and stir over a medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated (approx 10-20 minutes depending how juicy the pineapple is). You want the mixture to be moist but not wet so that it doesn’t make the pastry soggy.
Add the sugar and lemon juice and continue to stir continuously until the filling develops a deep golden colour and is thick and sticky and coats the back of a spoon. (Tip: Put a small plate in the fridge and smear some jam on it to check for the right sticky and jammy consistency, if its not jammy, keep it on the stove a bit longer). Keep stirring and be careful to not let it burn. Taste to see if the filling has achieved the desired sweetness. Take off the heat and allow the pineapple filling to cool to room temperature then place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This will make the filling easier to handle. You can make the filling ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. When you are ready to use it, remove the cloves.
METHOD FOR THE PASTRY
Preheat oven to 180°C. Cream the softened butter and condensed milk in an electric mixer. Once combined and creamy add the egg yolks one at a time, beating between each addition. Slowly add the flour, continuing to mix until the mixture becomes crumbly. Turn off the mixer and use your hands to squeeze the crumbly pastry into a ball (this will take a minute or two - at first it will seem too dry and crumbly but as you squeeze and knead it into a ball it will transform into a soft dough).
Once you have a smooth round ball of dough, pinch small amounts of the dough into 10gram pieces (for consistent shape and size weigh each little pinch of dough as you go) and form each piece into a round ball. While you work keep the dough moist under a slightly damp tea towel. Once you have all your little dough balls ready, you can start making the tarts.
Take a little dough ball and place it in your palm. Gently flatten it using your fingers to form it into a round disk about 6cm in diametre. Make the edges of the disk a little bit thinner around the edges so it is easier to curl into a ball. Place approx. 1 teaspoon of pineapple filling on the centre of each pastry disk. To wrap it, pinch opposite ends together and over the pineapple jam in the middle and then do the same with other two opposite ends until you have enclosed the pineapple jam. Gently start rolling the dough between your palms to achieve an even smooth ball.
Place on a lined baking tray and glaze with egg wash and sprinkle a couple of sesame seeds on each ball. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the pastry is a light golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Store in air-tight container.
For a gift, put them in an airtight glass jar with some red ribbon for good luck.
That’s it! A delicious and fun treat to make this Chinese New Year. Thanks for sharing the recipe with me Angie! 新年快乐!
Founder of ONCE UPON A SECRET SUPPER
It's the lead up to Chinese New Year celebrations which means it is time to make a few batches of these delicious homemade buttery melt-in-the-mouth pineapple tarts for home consumption with the family and also gifting to friends.
My parents grew up in Taiwan so I grew up eating pineapple tarts as our sweet treat for Chinese New Year. Pineapples are considered a particularly auspicious fruit and are thought to bring prosperity, luck and good fortune most likely linked to their lovely gold colour. I love visiting my local wet market Ghim Moh in Singapore and picking out a few sweet ripe pineapples from the mountains of pineapples. Super juicy, sweet and cheap at $5 per pineapple! OMG yum!