Chinese New Year snacks are something every home must have during the festive season. These little titbits are very much a part of the cultural aspect of Chinese New Year.
In short, these snacks aren’t just food. They hold lots of sentimental value, and bring people together over a common love.
One of the snacks that is commonly present for CNY is pineapple tarts. These delicious desserts pair a crumbly, buttery and slight salted crust with sweet pineapple jam.
What are Pineapple Tarts Like in Singapore?
In South East Asia, pineapple tarts are made without milk powder and shortening, unlike its Taiwanese counterpart. Therefore, the crust is more European in nature, resembling pie crust.
Pineapple tarts come in several shapes that are pretty popular. These include round or oval pastry balls with the pineapple jam in the middle, pineapple rollovers or open faced pineapple tarts. The open faced tart version is also known as Nyonya pineapple tarts.
No matter which shape you choose to make, the primary ingredients for the crust and the jam remain the same.
Some Useful Pineapple Tart Baking and Making Tips
Pineapple tarts are composed of two main parts, the crust and the pineapple jam. They should be prepared separately and then combined just before being baked. Here are some tips to make your pineapple tart journey go more smoothly.
- The quality and purity of the butter you use to make the crust is important. The better your butter, the better tasting your crust will be, and the smoother its texture.
- Some people prefer using margarine instead of butter for their crust as they find that its flakier and lighter. Do try both to find what you prefer.
- The longer you rest your crust after mixing it, the better it will be. Experts advise that you should rest it for at least 4 hours, but resting it overnight in the refrigerator is the best.
- Preparing the pineapple jam is a rather time consuming endeavour. From cutting the pineapples to cooking it down to a paste, you could be spending about 4-5 hours. One alternative is to buy pre-made pineapple paste from baking suppliers.
- However, with that being said, fresh pineapple jam definitely has a more homey and better quality than pre-made jam that’s mass produced.
- Another option to make pineapple jam is using canned pineapples. In this case, you can omit adding sugar as canned pineapples are already in syrup. You can just cook them down to a drier consistency.
- To save time, you can make the pineapple jam in advance and freeze it for up to one week. When ready to use, just thaw it to room temperature and divide into bite sized balls.
A Step by Step Guide to Making Pineapple Tarts at Home
Although the process of making pineapple tarts at home is quite easy and can be carried out without much experience or training, it is still rather time consuming. Therefore, you should start your cooking some time before the actual CNY celebrations.
- 4 pineapples, cut into small bite sized pieces.( yields about 2000-2500g)
- 250g castor sugar
- 2 pieces star anise
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- Juice of half a lemon
- Pandan leaves ( knotted)
- Start by slicing the pineapples. Remove the tough outer skins, and then slice away the tough ‘eyes’ portion on the outer parts. Slice each pineapple into quarters lengthwise and remove the tough middle core.
- Once that’s done, chop the pineapples into bite size pieces and place them in a blender or food processor. Process until they look completely liquid and there are no pieces left.
- Empty this pineapple puree into a wok or pan and turn up the heat to high. Add the cinnamon, star anise and pandan leaf. Heat until boiling.
- Add in the castor sugar and stir.
- Once it boils, make sure to stir it constantly to avoid burning the mixture. Cook it down until 80% of the liquid is gone. This may take up to an hour or more. .
- Once a paste is formed, set it aside in a ceramic or glass bowl. If storing in the fridge or freezer, make sure to cover it with cling wrap first.
- 400 grams all purpose flour
- 200 grams butter or margarine ( preferably unsalted)
- Two eggs
- A tablespoon of water
- Some salt
- Start by crumbling the cold butter or margarine into your sifted flour. You will end up with a consistency like sand or soil.
- Stir the eggs and water into the flour mixture. Mix the dough together to form a ball. Do not knead the dough, just make sure it comes together evenly. Overworking the dough can cause it to lose its flakiness.
- Cover the dough with a cling wrap and let it rest for at least 4 hours.
Creating Your Pineapple Tarts
- Start by taking your dough out of the refrigerator. You can work with it while it’s still cold. Flour a smooth surface and roll out your dough into a about 1cm thickness.
- The next step depends on what pineapple tart shape you want to make. The easiest would be open faced tarts. You can find tart molds in bakery supply stores. Just press the round mold into the dough and lift the pastry into a lined baking tray.
- Scoop out your pineapple jam into round balls to fit the centre of the pastry and place them there. Brush the top of each pastry with a beaten egg.
- Bake your tarts for 20-25 minutes in a preheated 200 degrees celsius oven.
- Take them out and cool. Once cooled, you can store them in an airtight container. Pineapple tarts can last up to 10 days at room temperature, and up to one month in the chiller.
Source: Choo Yut Shing@Flickr
Pineapple Tarts are a Family Affair!
Making pineapple tarts can be a fun family affair as many steps are quite easy. Therefore, you can get your children involved in the process too, to give them more CNY memories to treasure.
If you’re pressed for time and can’t make your own tarts, don’t fret. You can always order your delicious tarts online from Ding Bakery. They offer award winning pineapple tarts that are made in the traditional way we all remember from our childhood, in two familiar forms, as open-faced Nyonya tarts and Pineapple Balls.
Source: Ding Bakery