Every Chinese New Year, I excitedly buy the petite Pineapple Tarts from my favorite Malaysian-Singapore restaurant. Their Pineapple Tarts are much sought after this time of year. Often I get disappointed when they run out. I have to call in my order weeks in advance.
So when I didn’t get my favorite, tiny pastry treats, I decided to bake my own version of Pineapple Tarts. I found a recipe from another food blogger. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. In fact, it was “easy as pie”, pardon the pun.
The crust came out delicate and buttery. The family verdict was unanimous. My crust was a winner! The pineapple filling was made a day before and chilled to firm up. The crushed pineapple’s natural sweetness was made more amazing by simmering it slowly till it became sticky and had a jam-like consistency. And together, it was a perfect Pineapple Tart just in time for Chinese New Year.
Preparations for Chinese New Year start 14 days and one month before the actual day. Traditionally, it is important the house must be thoroughly cleaned. At times walls are repainted, and drapes are washed. Shopping for new food supplies and lots of cooking are also done.
Asian families get together and celebrate with big feasts. This is a traditional time for Asian families to give thanks for the many blessings received. My niece, Tsui Chern, who lives in the midwest, was excitedly cooking and cleaning when she wrote to me a few weeks ago. Her parents, KL and Catherine were arriving in the USA, and had come from Singapore to celebrate the Chinese New Year with the rest of the family. Tsui Chern told me they were inviting some close family friends in their area for a Chinese New Year feast.
As for Pineapple Tarts , Tsui Chern did confirm they’re a traditional treat in Singapore. Here’s what she said:
” My parents arrived yesterday. And yes, they brought with them pineapple tarts (from Singapore). It is one of the many New Year cookies. Pineapple signifies blooming prosperity so we include it in our cooking or pastries.”
I live far away from my niece, Tsui Chern. But if I was close by, I’d bake these Pineapple Tarts in a jiffy and bring them over, freshly baked, and to wish her many good wishes for prosperity, good fortune and much happiness!
Meanwhile, take a bite-sized tart from my newly baked batch … here’s to a fiercely progressive and very lucky Chinese Lunar New Year !
Pineapple Tarts are traditional tiny sweet pastry treats for Chinese New Year. I first tasted these at a Malaysian restaurant and from then on was hooked. The original ones were shaped like a round floral cookie, with a flakey, buttery pastry and the pineapple jelly-like filling placed in an open space on the center. I don't have the cookie mold for this (though you can purchase it on the internet), so I decided to bake these tarts shaped like mini, round empanadas. You can bake these in stages : cook the filling a few days before and refrigerate, make the pastry ahead and chill; assemble all together and bake for the Lunar New Year. They baked so well and had such an irresistable buttery aroma, that I don't think I'll wait till the next Chinese New Year to make them again. This recipe was adapted from the site FreshFromTheOven and makes about 18 pieces.
- unsalted butter - 1 cup, chilled, for pastry
- all purpose flour - 1 and 1/2 cups
- salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- egg yolks - 2, chilled
- powdered confectioner's sugar - 3 Tablespoons
- cornstarch - 2 Tablespoons, for pastry
- egg - 1 whole, mixed with 1/4 cup water, for egg wash
- crushed pineapple - 1 large can ( 20 ounces), drained, but keep syrup for cooking
- granulated sugar - 1/4 cup, for filling
- cornstarch - 1 and 1/2 Tablespoon, for filling
- lemon juice - 1 teaspoon
- Prepare the filling ahead of time : in a medium-sized heavy stock pot, cook the pineapple and sugar on low heat. Add about 8 tablespoons of the pineapple juice syrup from the can, a little at a time, to prevent pineapple from burning or sticking. Keep stirring every now and then.
- Add the cornstarch to thicken once the pineapple starts to turn darker. Keep stirring till it thickens. This will take about an hour to make. Cook at very low fire and do not leave the filling unattended or it may burn.
- Let the filling cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in a covered container overnight so it can firm up.
To Assemble and Bake the Pineapple Tarts:
- Make the dough ahead: mix the flour, salt, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch and butter till it looks like coarse peas. Use a pastry blender and mix by hand or use a food processor for faster results. Add the chilled yolks to the pastry and blend till dough is smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, roll the dough on floured surface. Cut with a cookie cutter, tiny circles measuring 2 inches in diameter.
- Fill the center of the dough with 2 teaspoons of pineapple filling. Brush the sides with eggwash.
- Top with another circle. Seal edges with your thumb by pressing both pastries together.
- Place tarts on parchment lined baking sheets. Brush tops with egg wash.
- Bake in preheated oven 350F degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.
- Then brush the tops of pastry again with more egg wash. Bake for another 5 minutes.
- When done, cool on racks.
*Reference for some Chinese New Year traditions: "Culinaria Southeast Asia" A Journey through Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia" by H.F.Ullmann
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