I really have to be thankful to The Mother who has made my first foray into Chinese New Year baking a heck easier. When I planned to make kuih bangkit, I had no idea that she had stashed away, a set of beautiful traditional molds to make it more authentic. And then, just when I was planning to make open pineapples tarts with mere cookie cutters and a deft hand, lo and behold, she comes brandishing the proper pineapple tart molds! What else has she been keeping from me?
I also have to thank food blogger friend and fellow Malaysian, A Table For Two for being my virtual baking buddy for CNY. Our constant chats, taste tests and tweets about our Malaysian baking exploits has made my Chinese New Year cooking for 2010 a ball of fun. Oh yes, I foresee a mass CNY bake-off in the near future. Be sure to check out his tasty versions of pineapple tarts and peanut cookies and give it a try for yourself.
Ok enough end-of-year sentiments and let’s talk food! These pineapple tarts completes the holy trinity of Malaysian cookies for Chinese New Year. We started off with the coconutty Kuih Bangkit, then the peanutty, er, peanut cookies and now these tarts, which is the ‘cookie’ to rule all cookies. The combination of the buttery, melty and crumbly pastry with the chewy, sweet pineapple is the ultimate pleasure incarnate and my love for it has not waned one bit.
The recipe comes from my favourite Malaysian cookbook that was published back in 1976. The pastry is dead easy but spot on in terms of buttery-ness and crumbly-ness (my English good yes?). The glucose syrup and flour wasn’t part of the original recipe and are purely optional but they were great tips I picked up from A Table for Two. The glucose makes the jam more sticky and gummy, which makes it easier to mold and also makes it more bitey and chewy. The flour was used for drying out the jam further, as excessive liquid can be a problem with tinned pineapples if you don’t drain them thoroughly. But it isn’t the end of the world if you choose to skip these.
I prefer these in an open tart style and as you can see, I love the pineapple jam so much that I’m not afraid to pile on huge mounds of it! When it comes to the pastry and jam ratio, I definitely prefer more jam so that’s why I also skipped layering on pastry lattices over the top of the cookie. Whatever shape or form, I have to admit that these pineapple tarts would have to be my favourite Malaysian biscuit of all time and I’m elated that I finally took the plunge in making them.
Sadly for me, I’ve devoured all my cookies and it’s not even the big day yet! I couldn’t even stop eating them while I was taking photos, greedy greedy girl! But I can take the hint, especially when The Captain comes homes with two huge 825g tins of pineapple and a sly grin. Guess I know what I’ll be doing on February 14th and it ain’t going to involve roses and a candlelit dinner.
533g of grated or crushed pineapple flesh (from 3 x 440g tins of Golden Circle crushed pineapple in juice, drained well)
250g of caster sugar (adjust to your taste but reduce the sugar if you’re using tinned pineapples in syrup)
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
juice of half a lime
2 tsp of glucose syrup (optional)
1 – 1.5 tsp of plain flour (optional)
In a heavy based saucepan, bring all the ingredients to a boil, stirring frequently to combine and dissolve sugar.
Reduce heat to low and stir regularly for about 30 minutes until pineapple jam is dry. At this stage you can add the glucose syrup and mix to combine. If you’re using flour, sprinkle it in now and continue to cook.
Make sure you stir it frequently as the bottom will burn easily. Once it’s thick and jammy, take it off the heat, remove the cinnamon, cloves and star anise and allow to cool completely.
8 oz plain flour (about 226g)
5 oz unsalted butter, chopped (about 145g)
1 Tbl cold water
pinch of salt (skip it if you’re using salted butter)
In a food processor, blitz together the flour and butter until it resembles bread crumbs.
Add the egg and cold water and blitz until it comes together (if it’s dry add a little more cold water until it just binds).
Bring it together and shape into a disc (do not knead too much). Wrap it in clingwrap and refrigerate for an hour.
To Assemble Tarts
Preheat oven to 180°C. Using your hands roll out teaspoons of pineapple jams into balls and place aside.
Roll out the pastry dough to a 0.5cm thickness between two sheets of non stick paper. Remove the top sheet of paper and use your pineapple tart mold to cut out shapes or alternatively use a small round or fluted cutter to cut out your biscuits and use your thumb to make a dent in the middle. Remove excess dough and slide the baking paper with the pastry onto your baking sheet.
Place the molded balls of pineapple jam into the dent in each biscuit and bake for 15-20 mins until the pastry is slightly golden. Transfer to wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Note: If you would like a more golden hue to the pastry, brush tarts with a little beaten egg before baking. Alternatively you could always cut out think strips of pastry to decorate your tarts in a lattice style (I prefer more jam to pastry and less work so I always skip this step… lazy me!).
Store tarts in airtight containers. I’m not sure how long it’ll keep because they never last long in my house but sources have told me that maybe a few days to a week will be best.