Pineapple Tarts

Pineapple Tarts

Gung Hee Fat Choy everyone!  My friend Julia Nickson’s FB post reminded me of these delicious pineapple tarts that are a staple of Chinese New Year in Singapore and Malaysia.  Since more than half my extended family is from there or has lived there, I decided to tackle these myself, though I have never made them before.  They turned out great.  The recipe is not difficult, but making the homemade pineapple jam takes a lot of patience.  I had to slowly simmer the pineapple for over an hour over low heat.  Do not be tempted to turn the temperature up, the mixture will spatter and burn you and the pineapple badly.  Using a wide skillet helps to speed up the process because there is more surface area for evaporation.  The sugar in the pastry is not traditional and optional but may appeal to non-Asian palates that are familiar with sweeter pastries.

The recipes I looked at called for fresh pineapple.  Now as an Island girl myself I can trim, peel, seed and cut a fresh pineapple in less than a minute.   But when Trader Joes sells delicious frozen pineapple chunks for $1.59 a one-pound bag (half the price of a whole pineapple), why bother?

Pineapple filling

  • 2 pounds frozen pineapple chunks, defrosted in the bag
  • 3 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves.

Drain the pineapple in a colander over a large bowl, reserving the juice.  Transfer the pineapple to a food processor and pulse it on and off a few times into a very chunky pineapple sauce.  Mix pineapple juice, lime juice and cornstarch together.  Add pineapple, sugar, cinnamon and cloves, and mix well.  Transfer the mixture to a wide skillet.  Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture is jam-like and starts to brown slightly.  This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more, so have patience.  This is so worth it.  You can use prepared pineapple jam, but it’s not the same.  Pick out the cinnamon and cloves.  Turn off the heat and let the filling cool.

Shortbread pastry

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar (optional, I left it out)
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • Grated rind of one lime
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

Rinse and dry the food processor bowl.  Put the flour, salt and sugar (if used) in the food processor fitted with a dough blade and process to blend.   Cut the butter into small pieces and add it to the flour mixture.  Pulse a few times until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is crumbly.  Beat eggs, lime rind and lime juice together.  Turn processor on again and add liquid mixture through the tube.  Pulse until liquid is incorporated.  Check the dough, it should be crumbly but if pressed together holds together well.  If the mixture is too dry add cold water 1 tbsp at a time, and process again until mixture holds together.  Turn mixture out onto a clean cutting board and form it into a ball.  If it is too wet (sticks to cutting board, add a little more flour). Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 20 minutes.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven.  Preheat it to 350 degrees.

Roll the dough out on a cutting board to ½ inch thickness.  Using a small fluted biscuit or cookie cutter, cut rounds of dough and transfer them to the cookie sheet.  Combine scraps into a ball and roll out again, cutting more rounds until the dough is used up.  This receipt should make about 2 dozen rounds, about 1 ½” in diameter.

Use your thumb or knuckle to press an large indentation in the middle of each round.  Spoon ½ tsp of the pineapple filling in each indentation.

Bake the tarts for 25-30 minutes or until golden.  Rotate the cookie sheet 180 degrees halfway through the baking process to ensure evening baking.  Let tarts cool before eating (if you can!)

Makes 2 dozen little tarts.

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