Pineapple tarts are my favourite new year treat. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water. These bite-size treats are so popular that they are sold in many variations: the closed, open-face or rolled (Nastar) types. Heck, I just found out about a certain Taiwanese version of this snack. They are more like shortbreads and contain a slightly different filling, but let’s not go to that now. I prefer the rolled or Nastar variation. They are very addictive. I baked a few trays of these and they were all finished in a day, no joke. They are crumbly, buttery and filled with a decadent filling. What’s not to love about them?
First, you need to make some pineapple jam or paste. I find commercially sold ones lack the tangy, sour taste of pineapples and that they are loaded with too much sugar or glucose syrup. While you can buy ready-made pineapple paste in stores, nothing beats having freshly made jam at home. Cooking your own jam is simple but tedious and time-consuming. You have to be prepared to stand over a warm stove for about an hour or more. If you have the luxury of time, jam-making is so rewarding. Just because you get to eat the remains of jam in the pot at the end (ha!).
I like grating my pineapples, for the texture. You will get really fibrous, chewy jam if you grate them. But if you’re lazy or are pressed for time (because grating them by hand takes up a lot of time) and want an easy way out, you can blend them in a food processor or a blender, though I highly recommend that you grate them. Takes a while, but it will be so worth it. I prefer mine without any additional spices (cinnamon sticks and cloves). Just pure, pineapple goodness.
Pineapple Jam (adapted from My Cooking Hut)
2 half-ripe pineapples, grated
80 grams granulated sugar (adjust according to your preference)
1. Skin the pineapple and remove the “eyes”. Cut each pineapple into quarters lengthwise. Grate the pineapple using a grater until you reach the core. You may choose to wear plastic gloves to protect your hands from the acidity of the pineapples. Discard the core.
2. Drain the grated pineapples using a large sieve. Use a ladle to press the juice out until it is 90% dried up. Retain the pineapple juice for cooking later. Use a wooden spoon, cook the grated and drained pineapples, putting in half portion of the sugar in a large pot under moderate-high heat until it begins to boil. Once it has boiled, reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally to not allow it to burn.
3. Start adding the pineapple juice to the pot a ladle at a time until all the juice have been boiled away. The juice will start to evaporate and dry out. Repeat this step until all the juice are completely used up.
4. When all the juice are used up and the mixture has started to look dry and caramelized, reduce the heat to low. Add the remaining sugar bit by bit until the desired sweetness is achieved. This step can be done close to the end of the cooking. Keep stirring until the mixture is almost dry and sticky with a golden-hue. This will take about 1-1½ hours, depending on the amount you make and the surface area of the pot you use.
5. Take note that the jam will continue to thicken after it is cooled so it is best not to overcook the mixture. It is better to undercook it for you can always put it back on the heat if it is still not at the right consistency.
6. Set the pineapple jam aside to cool. After it has been cooled, store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. It can be kept for up to 3-4 weeks.
It is advisable that you prepare the pineapple jam a day before as it takes about an hour or more to cook and a few more hours to cool it. If you decided to hand-grate your pineapples, that will take up a whole chunk of your day too. Once the jam is done, you can proceed with making the pastry. I like my pastry to have that melt-in-the-mouth and crumbly feeling. Oh-so yummy. It complements the jam really well, and makes you just want to reach out for another piece. And another. And another. Oh, what a vicious cycle!
Pineapple Tarts (adapted from My Cooking Hut)
250 grams unsalted butter, softened
50 grams icing sugar
2 egg yolks
360 grams plain flour mixed with 2 tbsp corn flour (sifted)
¼ teaspoon salt
Pineapple filling (take 6 g or ½ teaspoon heapful of filling and shape into a small elongated roll)
1 egg for egg wash
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper. Meanwhile, cream the butter and the icing sugar until light. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. Add in salt and beat until fluffy.
2. Fold in sifted ingredients (divided into 2-3 batches) and mix till it becomes a firm dough. Leave aside for 30 minutes. Put the dough into a pineapple roll pastry press or mould, and then press out into a strip of 5 cm length.
3. Place the pineapple filing at one end and roll up the pastry, as in a Swiss roll, enough to enclose the jam. Do not overlap the pastry. Cut off the excess pastry. Put the rolls on the baking tray. Brush with egg wash. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and jam.
4. Bake them for 15 minutes. Turn the baking tray 180° and continue to bake for 2 more minutes or until they turn golden brown. Leave to cool before storing.
I am submitting this post to Chinese New Year Delights 2013 hosted by Sonia aka Nasi Lemak Lover. This post is also linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by Doreen from My Little Favourite DIY and Bake For Happy Kids. The theme of this month is ‘Pineapple’! Join in the fun if you bake or cook anything with pineapple this month!