Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Express Homemade Pineapple Tarts

The word, pineapple in the Chinese Hokkien dialect, "On-Lai" has a meaning of inviting prosperity. In Singapore, pineapple is served in form of pastry to family members and guests for its good meaning for the Chinese new year. For me, my Chinese New Year is never a festival without pineapple tarts. The traditional pineapple tarts brings back great memory of my childhood. I remember the good old days when my grandma and I filled up lots of recycled Milo or Horlick metal tins with our freshly baked pineapple tarts.

Back then, we don't have an electric mixer, a food processor, an stainless steel oven or even a weighing balance. My grandma is illiterate and she didn't have a recipe book. All we did was to mix a packet of plain flour, a large tin of Planta margarine and 2-3 eggs together and we added extra flour subsequently for easy handling of rolled pastry. About less than a decade back in Singapore, I was given a jar of very delicious homemade pineapple tarts, and so I asked my friend for her mum's recipe. From that point, I then realized that we aren't the only one who use this conventional method of making shortcrust pastry, her mum used about the same combination to make her pineapple tarts too...that's interesting to know.

I would say the most challenging part of making these tarts is the pineapple filling. We didn't have shopping trolley at the olden days and had to carry these juicy but heavy fresh pineapple from the market to home. The chopping, grating and squeezing of these pineapple really toughened our arm muscles. Lastly, standing in front of a hot stove for hours, stirring a large pot of pineapple jam in a tropical climate is definitely not a joke.

I admire my grandma's efforts for making these tiny buttery sweet treats from scratch. Despite all these enormous effort, my grandma and I love all these cooking and baking. I remembered decorating the tarts with lots of "ABCs" and "123s" and happily "punishing" myself by eating the "ugly" faulty tarts. We created lots of laughter in the kitchen as well, not just food.

Today, I am baking these pineapple tarts using my express methods. To satisfy my craving for a freshly baked pineapple tart, all I need is just a couple of hours, a microwave to make pineapple filling starting from a tin of pineapple. I must say that the festive feeling is different having these pineapple tarts away from home but at least the making of them brought back great memories.

Here's the recipe for the pineapple filling using microwave method from Corner cafe (with my modification in blue).

2kg whole pineapple (weight with top off)
330 (1 1/2 cups) white granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3cm cinnamon quill * (I didn't use this)
3 cloves * (I didn't use this)
1 segment of a star anise * (I didn't use this)

*These spices are what make the Pineapple tarts what they are, aroma of the South East Asia, but you may omit them if you prefer.
1. Peel and remove eyes from the pineapple. Using a coarse grater, grate the pineapple, discard core. You should now have about 1.25kg of grated pineapple.
2. Drain the grated pineapple. Then lightly squeeze the pulp with your hands to remove excess juice. You should now have about 3 cups (750ml) of pineapple juice and 2 cups (500g) of moist pineapple pulp. Don’t squeeze it too dry. If you have squeezed the pulp too dry, you have to add about 1/2 cup juice back to the pulp when you start cooking it in the next step of preparation.
3. Put the pineapple pulp into a microwave-safe jug. Add sugar, salt and spices. (Add 1/2 cup pineapple juice if the pulp is squeezed really dry.)
4. Stir all the ingredients to mix well before starting to microwave.
5. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH for 10 minutes. Remove from microwave and give it a stir, be careful of the hot steam.
6. Return to microwave and cook on HIGH for another 10 minutes. Remove, don’t stir, and see if the surface of the filling is level or lumpy. If the filling has become lumpy but still soft, it is done. Remove and let cool, be very careful as the filling is extremely hot at this stage! If not, give it a stir and continue to cook but for only 1 minute each time, and check each time until the filling has just start to become firm and clump together. After cooking for 20 minutes, the filling is still moist.
This should be the consistency of the done pineapple filling, the mixture has formed peaks and not flattened out to a level surface.
7. If you have overcooked the filling and it has set hard after cooling, just add some pineapple juice and put back into the microwave and cook on LOW for 1 minute. Give it a vigorous stir to soften. If it is still too hard, continue to add more juice and cook on LOW setting until the filling
is soft but lumpy. Makes approx. 500g filling

I used 1 can (425g) of pineapple in juice and yield 120g of crushed and squeezed pineapple pulp. I've added 30g sugar and 150ml of juice into the pineapple pulp and microwave it on HIGH, uncovered for 5 min. Stir and microwave again on HIGH, uncovered for 5 min. Stir and microwave it on HIGH, uncovered for 6-7 min interrupting every 2 min interval to check if the pineapple is overcooked. Do not stir at each interruption. The pineapple jam is ready when it has a little translucent jam-like look and usually slighter darker in colour. 

As the pineapple was cooked being uncovered in the microwave, there was lots of sticky pineapple bits stuck inside the microwave and the cleaning can be quite a chore...using warm water to wipe can help.  

Here's the recipe for my friend's mum's pineapple tart pastry:

1 kg flour
3 x 250g butter
3 eggs

These pastry may be slightly too soft for rolling and more suitable for Nastar type of pineapple tarts.

My pastry is:

100g flour
1 egg yolk
50g butter

1. Place all in the bowl of a food processor; process until mixture is the texture of coarse meal.
2. Add a little milk to process until a dough forms.
3. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm, at least 15 min.
4. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line baking tray with baking paper. Roll dough to 4-5mm thickness on floured surface. Cut dough into desired shapes and place a teaspoonful of pineapple filling on it. Brush with milk. Bake for 8-10 min or until edges are firm. Cool for 10 min on baking tray. cool completely on a wire rack.

All with the filling made from 1 pineapple can (425g) made 15 tarts, has some pastry as leftover. I baked these leftover pastry as bits and pieces and my son loves feasting on them...LOL

Happy Baking

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  1. These came out looking melt in your mouth yummy!

  2. zoe, i always find it amazing our grandmothers or people from their generation can always come up with wonderful and delicious cookies, treats even without a proper recipe..they just feel everything from their hands and see from their eyes. Your pastry is really nice, looks tender. are you able to find pineapple paste over there?

  3. Lena: I can find the ready made pineapple paste in a Asian baking shop at Preston market but find it challenging to create a less sweeter version all from scratch from the microwave method.

  4. Sounds like some very nice memories. You're so lucky that you were able to make these tarts with your grandma. I have only tasted these homemade tarts once because no one really makes these in the US, not anyone that I know of. The ones from Chia Te in Taiwan taste amazing. Thanks for sharing this detailed recipe.

  5. Zoe those are perfect! I love your story and your memories..Well written and I really enjoyed reading. Recipe is awesome and photos are just stunning!

  6. That's a great idea using microwave to make pineapple filling. I love the nice color of your pineapple filling, must try to make this next time as I already bought the ready made.

  7. Zoe, your pineapple tarts look so good! I love how your jam turned out - nice color and texture! Making pineapple jam from scratch is such a chore though D=.

  8. wonderful memories of the old days! how i wish i had such memories with my grandma! the tarts looks very lovely zoe!

  9. Zoe, your pineapple tarts look delish ! I am still not sure what pastry to use. Either the melt in the mouth one or the crispy like pie type :) Thanks for sharing...your pic make me want to grab a piece from the screen :p

  10. Zoe, your pineapple tarts look nice and I love the golden color of the pineapple jam.

  11. Ahh, your pineapple tarts are so pretty... :) :)

  12. Zoe, your pineapple tarts look lovely, I like the colour of the pineapple jam!

  13. I just pineapple tarts! I am not an overall fan of cookies, but pineapple tart is 'comfort cookie' to me! Chinese New Year without pineapple tarts is just not the same!

  14. The color is so golden & bright...Ong ah !! Huat ah !! hahaha
    This is a must baked item in one of my cny cookies list.

  15. Such a beautiful idea if you want something sweet and fast.

  16. So happy i've ended up here,i love your blog!
    Congratulations,keep up with the fab baking!

  17. Reading the history and significance of this dish makes me want to try it even more! The shells looks buttery and melt in your mouth tasty, and the pineapple jam looks perfect. I would love to make these! Definitely getting bookmarked!!!

    Thanks to your grandma. I can't imagine stirring jam in tropical heat!! I am grumpy during German summers when I have to spend more than an hourin my hot kitchen (though I did so every day hehe).

  18. i've always thought making pineapple tart paste is a hassle, so avoided baking them during the festive season. ur recipe gave me new insight to this lovely cny goodie :)

  19. They're so bautiful! PS I use the same recipe for pastry LOL

  20. They're so pretty! These look like they could just melt in your mouth :)

  21. These pineapple tarts look so tempting and pretty :-)

  22. These look great! I LOLed at this: stirring a large pot of pineapple jam in a tropical climate is definitely not a joke.

  23. I love the look of these, I'm crazy for pineapple. This is such a great, unusual recipe! x

  24. Lovely post Zoe, great to hear those memories of baking with your grandmother.

    Tarts look amazing.

  25. Your pineapple filling looks gorgeous! I love reading stories about people cooking with their grandmothers. I have fond memories of that too!

  26. What a nice memory of baking with your grandmother! Those tarts are so pretty- they're perfect for any celebration. :)

  27. Whoa! Those look way too pretty to eat! Definitely a mouthwatering little treat!

  28. they are gorgeous little treats for sure, I dont use pineapple enough.

    Very gorgeous blog

  29. I love hearing the heritage behind the recipes. My grandmother never used a recipe. And had a pasta board and all that jazz. I like my time-savers but I truly appreciate those who developed recipes without them - and never balked because they were a lot of work.

    These sweet tarts with your pineapple filling are just delicate treats to be savored. They charm.

  30. Pineapple tart is my Hubby's most fav! U've made them delicious!! :D

  31. One of the things I love most about cooking, is the memories it brings to mind of happy times with loved ones. I have just signed up to follow your blog and I look forward to more delicious recipes and wonderful stories!

  32. I love nostalgic foods like this, and these little pineapple tarts are adorable! Hope you enjoy the Chinese New Year with you pineapple treats :)

  33. Wow, these are so pretty! I love the beautiful pineapple colors - I can almost taste them! :o)

  34. Beautiful! They look like a one biter for me:) Love the express method for sure.

  35. Zoe, I am loving your pineapple jam...looks so fresh & juicy! Well, I guess we're all love making things easy these days. Hassle free is the best. LOL! haha... I'm sure I will enjoy your tarts when I visit your home. :o)Have a lovely evening.
    Cheers, Kristy

  36. I just love the pastry recipe--so simple, yet I have no doubt it's incredible! My favorite shortbread cookie recipe has only 4 simple ingredients--butter, sugar, flour, and vanilla :)

    I love that you used pineapple,too--it's a welcome change from the more traditional fruits I'm used to cooking with this time of year (apple and banana!)

  37. oooo this looks so easy and yummy to make!!! nice one there! btw ... HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! x

  38. Your pineapple tarts looks very refreshing, I can't get my jam to stay so yellow and fresh after cooking them...maybe I should try to use the microwave like you did huh?