Friday, January 16, 2015

Searching for the Best Nastar Pineapple Rolls / Tarts 凤梨酥 Recipes

Everything is clearer when you're in love - John Lennon

Clearly, I know that I'm in love. I love my family, running and baking... and also pineapple tarts!!! You can say that I'm obsessive because I never stop loving anything that I love.

I have baking and searching for the best pineapple tarts recipe since 2012. Although I have found some wonderful recipes at here (2012), here (2013) and here at (2014), the craving for more seems to be ongoing as I just can't have enough...

Once again, this is the time of the year. It is summer in Australia and also pineapple season. Plus, we need pineapple tarts for the forthcoming Chinese New Year. And, so I have geared myself with lots of Aussie pineapples for more pineapple tarts baking!

For this year, I have baked and investigated FOUR pineapple tarts recipes particularly the Nastar ones. Why and what are Nastar pineapple tarts? The Nastar pineapple tarts or rolls are also known as Kue Nastar being the Indonesian style of pineapple cookies. To define further, Kue Nastar are famously known as the buttery and melt-in-the-mouth kind of pineapple cookies and their pineapple jam fillings have to be partially or fully enclosed inside these cookies.

Are there any differences between the Nastar pineapple tarts or any enclosed kind of pineapple tarts? Honestly, I can't really tell any distinctive differences. All I know is that a Nastar tarts has to be characteristically 1) BUTTERY!!! - Oh!!! 2) Melt-in-the-mouth - Oh!!! 3) Crumbly due to their rough edges - Oooh!!! A Nastar pastry press is usually used to press out strips of pastry with fluffy rough edges and the pressed out pastry are then used to enclose rolled pineapple filling inside... Clearly, this is one of the ideal kinds of pineapple tarts that I'm after!

Sorry for my interruption... I have an update on 9 Jan 2017: I have found an ultimate melt-in-your-mouth Nastar pineapple tart recipe and it is at HERE.

What are the four recipes that I have baked?

Recipe One is from Sonia of Nasi Lemak Lover

Remember that I mentioned that Sonia's enclosed pineapple tart recipe at my 2013 enclosed pineapple tarts post is the BEST. In another Sonia's post, she had used the exactly same recipe to bake Nastar tarts. I believe that this recipe is really good and so I'm using it as a benchmark for my comparison.

Recipe Two is from Swee San of The Sweet Spot

Swee San's recipe is almost the same as Sonia's. Like Sonia's, Swee San uses condensed milk to sweeten and bind her pastry dough but slightly lesser. Interestingly, she has added cream into her pastry and I wonder if this addition will make any difference.

Recipe Three is from Food4tots

Unlike Sonia's and Swee San's recipes, this recipe is quite similar to the two open faced pineapple tarts recipes (Fresh from the Oven and The Little Teochew) that I adore as mentioned at here but this recipe yields a slightly softer dough with 10-30g lesser flour or cornflour. Instead of using condensed milk, it uses icing sugar, cornflour and extra yolk to enhance its melt-in-the-mouth texture and hope that this pastry dough is easy to shape into nastar tarts.

Recipe Four is from Jun from Indochine Kitchen

Remember that I have mentioned at here that I have tried this recipe before and the pastry was too crumbly for me to handle. Until now, I still wonder why... A reader named Angel had left a comment to convince me that Jun's recipe is really good. Plus, seeing that Bee from Rasa Malaysia had also great success with this recipe, I'm fully convinced now and love to give this recipe another try.

And, so these are the nastar tarts that I baked...

Nastar tarts baked with the recipe by The Sweet Spot
kue nastar pineapple tarts rolls
Nastar tarts baked with the recipe by Food4tots
kue nastar pineapple tarts rolls
Nastar tarts baked with the recipe by Indochine Kitchen
kue nastar pineapple tarts rolls
Nastar tarts baked with the recipe by Nasi Lemak Lover - A benchmark for my comparison!

Why are the differences in these four recipes?

Apart from the standardised amount of butter, the amount of  other ingredients used are actually quite different.
Some use condensed milk to sweeten and bind the pastry and some use more egg yolk and icing sugar.
Only one from the Indochine Kitchen uses milk powder.
At least, something is same here - All these recipes use the creaming method :)
These are the four types of pastry that I have made.
To shape them into nastar tarts, I have used these pastry pressing equipment.
It is more tiring to use the silver one as more strength is required to press out pastry that is thinner
Before shaping, I need to cook the pineapple jam first...
Ta-da! It looks easy but it took me at least 3 hrs to cook this jam.
Remember not to over-cook the jam as the final baking step will cook the jam further.
Press pastry into strips with rough edges.
Shaping the tarts
Baking the tarts.
These are the tarts made with thinner pastry but I prefer the tarts made with thicker pastry...
because of their thick and rougher edges, they are also less tiring to press and shape.
Shaping the tarts by Indochine Kitchen
Notice the cracks? Sad to say that it happened again!
I have managed to shape 10 decent-looking nastar and used the rest to bake open faced tarts.
Can I use the pastry press to shape the pastry? I tried and I can't!
The dough is too crumbly and can't roll around the pineapple jam after it has been pressed.
Want more pineapple tart recipe analysis???

Here are the four recipes that I have compared:

All of the above recipes do not use vanilla extract and use unsalted butter.

I have also standardised all the egg wash that I have used in this bake and I always like to use egg wash that is made of 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp milk.

Not all of these recipes mention that they require any chilling or resting steps. To standardise, I have allowed all of these pastry to rest in the fridge overnight and removed them to soften at room temperature before shaping.

To start, I have to make pineapple jam first...

This is the Homemade Pineapple Jam recipe that is mostly adapted from here

2-3 pineapples
(about 1.3-1.6 kg each before peeling, all are about 2 kg after peeling)
2 cups sugar (400g) but I have used only 200g for this batch of pineapples because they are very sweet - please see the below important note.
3-4 pandan leaves, knotted

Peel the pineapples and cut them into chunks. Do not discard the core which contains lots of fiber.

Using a blender, process pineapple chunks into purée in batches. Transfer pineapple purée into large cooking pan with wide cooking surface. Note: I can avoid adding water to blend the pineapples if I blended the pineapples in small batches. Adding more water means that I have to spend more time to wait for the liquid portion of the jam to vaporize. 

Using medium low heat, cook pineapple purée with occasional stirring until thicken like oatmeal. Beware of the hot splattering pineapple juice while cooking the jam.

When the pineapple purée lose more than 80% of its liquid and becoming like paste, add sugar and the jam will look watery again. Turn to lower medium heat, and cook until the jam look like a paste and translucent-looking. Not sure when should you stop cooking? Pineapple jam will become firmer when it is cooled. Plus, open-faced pineapple tarts or open-end Nastar rolls can dry up pineapple jam a little. Hence, it is better to under-cook the jam rather than over-cooking it. The jam will thicken further when it is cooled. If the jam is still too wet after cooling, the jam can be cooked again to reduce the moisture further. If it's too dry, diluting the jam with water will ruin its texture.

IMPORTANT - Please note that this recipe has suggested this amount of sugar to ensure that the pineapple jam will preserve and store well at room temperature. Depending on the type of the pineapples used, I like to adjust the sweetness of my jam with a reduced amount of added sugar. For instance, the sweetness of this batch of jam is just right for us. Due to the reduced amount of sugar used, I prefer to store my jam in the fridge and made into pineapple tarts on the next day. We eventually managed to finish our pineapple tarts or share with our friends in less than two weeks which means storage and shelf-life of these tarts is never a problem for us.

What should you do if your pineapple jam is too sweet? Cook another batch of pineapple jam without any sugar. Combine both and adjust the sweetness accordingly.

Too much leftover jam? Place the jam in an airtight container and store it in a freezer for up to 12 months.

On the day of the bake, roll teaspoonful of pineapple jam into balls. Place them on plates or trays to get ready for further shaping.

Method that is mostly adapted from Nasi Lemak Lover

Cream butter and condensed milk until light. Add egg yolks one at a time, and beat until combine. Mix in flour, mix till become a soft and not sticky dough.

Place dough into a Nastar mould and press out into strips about 5-6 cm long. Place pineapple jam filling on the edge of a strip and make a small elongated roll. Cut off excess dough, brush with egg wash.

Bake in preheated oven at 170°C fan forced for 15-18 mins or till golden brown To standardise, I have baked all 160°C fan forced for 18 mins. Cool completely before storing.

Using this recipe with 100g of butter, I baked 20 nastar + 2 open faced pineapple tarts.

Method that is mostly adapted from The Sweet Spot

Cream butter and condensed milk until creamy. Add in egg yolks, one at a time and mix.

Add in flour and salt in batches to the butter mixture. It should just come together, then remove from mixer and lightly knead with hands. If the dough feels dry (splits when u press the nastar roll out), add some cream and knead with hands again.

Using the nastar presss, press dough out and roll in the pineapple jam. Cut any excess dough. Brush with egg yolk. Bake at 170°C for 18 mins or until golden brown. To standardise, I have baked all 160°C fan forced for 18 mins.

Using this recipe with 100g of butter, I baked 20 nastar + 2 open faced pineapple tarts.

Method that is mostly adapted from Food4tots

Preheat oven at 160°C. Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.

Cream butter and icing sugar until light. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. Add in salt and beat until fluffy. Fold in sifted ingredients (divided into 2-3 times) and mix into a firm dough. Set aside to rest for 30 mins.

Place dough into a pineapple roll pastry press or mould, and then press out into a strip of 5 cm length. Place pineapple filing at one end and roll up the pastry, as in a Swiss roll, enough to enclose the jam. Do not overlap the pastry. Cut off the excess pastry.

Arrange the rolls on the baking tray (lined with baking paper). Brush with egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 15 mins and rotate the baking tray and continue to bake for 2 mins or until golden brown. To standardise, I have baked all 160°C fan forced for 18 mins.

Using this recipe with 100g of butter, I baked 20 nastar + 2 open faced pineapple tarts.

Leave to cool before storing. Pineapple tarts must be cooled completely before storing so that the rolls/ tarts will not turn moldy easily.

Method that is mostly adapted from Indochine Kitchen

Preheat oven to 150°C. Sift flour, powdered milk and corn flour twice.In a mixer bowl, combine butter and sugar. Cream till light and fluffy, about 4-5 mins, over high speed. Add egg yolk, one at a time. Beating well. Add flour mixture into the bowl and beat over low speed using paddle attachment. Do this for 4-5 mins, until everything is mixed well.

Work with 50 g of dough one at a time. Roll dough between plastic sheet to 0.2 cm thickness. Pipe pineapple jam on top of the dough. Roll the dough to cover up the jam completely. Use a pair of scissors (or knife) to cut them up into 4 cm log and arrange on greased (or lined with baking paper) tray.

Brush with egg wash mixture twice using pastry brush. Bake in preheated oven till golden, 15-20 mins. To standardise, I have baked all 160°C fan forced for 18 mins.

Using this recipe with 100g of butter, I baked 10 nastar + 10 open faced pineapple tarts.

Let them cool completely and store in airtight container.

Curious to know if we can use these recipes to bake open faced pineapple tarts?

YES, we can! See these...

Open faced pineapple tarts made by all these 4 nastar tart recipes.

Yay that I have finished baking!!!
It's our nom-nom time!

"Can I have some pineapple tarts?" asked my son.

"Yes, you can but you have to tell me which is the best." I replied him with a cheeky smile.

Bring it on, Mummy! Bring it on... My husband and son are looking forward to provide me lots of feedback. And our winner is ...

The recipe from The Sweet Spot!

Why? I must admit that all the nastar tarts (except from the ones made with Indochine Kitchen recipe) look exactly the same. In fact, all of them taste almost the same being buttery, melt-in-the-mouth and crumbly... just like the typical Nastar tarts that I'm after. However, if you are fussy with details like us, you might see and taste the slight differences in them.

We all had lots of fun doing a blind taste test with these pineapple tarts and all agreed that the tarts made with The Sweet Spot and Food4tots are the best. The tarts made with Nasi Lemak Lover recipe are equally good but we can detect that they are slightly firmer due to the slight increase of condensed milk added. Or maybe the addition of cream in The Sweet Spot tarts is making a little difference. Despite the slight difference, the tarts made with Nasi Lemak Lover recipe are easier to stack, store and handle as being firmer means that they are less fragile and also less breakable.

Like what I expected from the two open faced pineapple tarts recipes (Fresh from the Oven and The Little Teochew), the Food4tots tarts are equally nice and melty but the dough is little crumbly to handle as the strips broke into short pieces when I was rolling the pineapple jam around them. For this reason, I'm giving my extra vote to the recipe from The Sweet Spot.

Despite the slight difficulty, I have manged to use most the dough made from the Food4tots recipe into nastar tarts but can't use the nastar press to shape the dough made from the Indochine kitchen recipe at all as the strips were more crumbly than the Food4tots's and broke into even smaller pieces. Taste-wise, I must say that the tarts made with this recipe are also melty and good but in term of handling, I reckon that the other three recipes are better.

To conclude, I like to say that the recipes that I have baked here are all good but if I really have to choose, I will choose the one from the Sweet Spot. The pastry dough is easy to shape and handle and can produce nastar tarts that are most melty and delicious!

Having said that, I like to clarify here that we are not significant enough to represent everyone's opinion. Statistically, the opinions from the three of us is never a representative number. If you do statistic, three subjects in a population is never significant enough to make any conclusion!!! LOL! After all, it is always a fun and delicious thing for us to do for every Chinese new year and we hope that what we did here can help you to find your best pineapple tarts for your Chinese New Year. Cheers!

Update on 9 Jan 2017: I have found an ultimate melt-in-your-mouth Nastar pineapple tart recipe and it is at HERE.

Happy Baking
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  1. wow.. very good analysis.. gives me more knowledge about pineapple tarts... i love how yours baked up golden brown. totally appetising!

    love to invite you to link this to Best Recipes co-hosted by me (, together with Fion for this month.. will be great to have this recipe linked up there!

    hope to see you soon Zoe

    1. Hi Victoria,

      Thanks for the invite! I have linked my post with you. Cheers!


  2. Aaahhh pineapple tarts! And it's CNY soon! I can eat a whole (big) jar of pineapple tarts! Shandy and pineapple tarts, I must have for CNY to munch at home.. You are very hardworking to try all the different pastries and measurement and all in your tarts.. I only know how to eat, haha..

  3. Wow...such detail studies on pineapple almost deserve a PhD in Pineapple Tarts if there is one. Thanks for the certainly is very helpful.

  4. These look FANTASTIC! My grandmother used to make and sell cookies of all sorts when she was younger out of her kitchen but she's stopped for a few decades! I love pineapple cookies and I'd eat them all year round. The only issue is the tart part, it's very obvious when it's been made by certain companies because the tart's flavor isn't truly buttery or fresh smelling. Home made or ones made by smaller shops tend to beso much fresher and richer tasting! You did a great job doing that comparison too, love learning about the subtle differences!

  5. Zoe, good job! Sometime also confused with the difference ingredient between the recipe. At least now more understand. Thanks for your sharing

  6. Dear Zoe, I didn't get to taste the tarts so they all look good to me.Just feasting my eyes on the pictures makes me drool

  7. Here she goes again lol I'm not planning to try another pineapple tart recipe as I'm quiet content with one of Sonia's but since you're my to-go pineapple tart expert , I may have to try that recipe from The Sweet Spot , hopefully , if not this CNY , maybe next year :D

  8. Wow, you've certainly invested a lot of time and effort trying out the four nastar pineapple. You and your family must be very happy to have found the best one. Anymore left?

  9. Zoe, happy new year to you too!!!
    These rolls are so yummy and look perfect!

  10. Hi Zoe, thank you so much for giving us the information on the pineapple tarts year after year, FYI, it was your intelligent researches and experiments on the best pineapple tarts last year that I used recipe Fresh from the Oven. My family and all friends gave their thumbs-up. I would say if without your valuable pineapple tart research and write ups and your recommendations and reviews, I would be really at loss, you've life easier for me. Credits go to you. Thank you again.

    Like you, I love pineapple tarts a lot.

    I wish you and your entire family "A BLESSED YEAR AHEAD"

    I just learnt that you reside in Australia, haha, perhaps oneday love to read your experiments on Aussie famous deli "Lamington Cake" both with chocolate and jelly finishes.

    Priscilla Poh

  11. Wow Zoe! Can I volunteer in blind taste test for your future bakes? Regardless, all surely tasted good ^-^!

  12. Hi Zoe , the tarts looks so deliciously good , I will have to try my hand at them Thanks for sharing :)

  13. These look beautiful Zoe! I love them!!

  14. I love chinese New Year, yoiu always make delicious treats!!

  15. Hi Zoe, kudos to you for trying out the above four recipes to make a comparison and sharing your experiences with us! Much appreciated! Have a blessed weekend!

  16. Z, you are amazing.
    I can see how patient and organized you are.
    Never heard of these nastar rolls, but now I so badly want to make them!

  17. I love pineapple tarts so much. But, all of the recipes are too tough for me. Shame on me. I find the one in Nastar shape one, because it looks simpler. However, i still have problem to cook the pineapple jam. lol!

  18. Ooooo can I come for blind tasting next time when u make pineapple tarts? Heheheheh love em!

  19. Really enjoy to read this post. Ha ... Ha .... 流口水。。。
    Golden color pineapple cookies look nice..

  20. Very beautiful and yummy nastar pineapple tart......n love the way u have written about the three end products... :)

  21. Zoe, you are amazing! You should write a thesis on pineapple tarts and earn a PhD!

  22. these are in my list since so have tempted me to try them soon...looks super tempting..i loved all of

  23. Hi Zoe, thanks again for experimenting with all the recipes and feedback. I can understand it is very time consuming to draw up the conclusions and share with us. Much appreciated. You're so hardworking. Bookmarked this post and will try it one day. There are really so many varieties to choose and make. Lost in the world of cookies.

  24. Damn delicious!!!
    my mom used to add grated mango too into the pinneaple jam filling,
    the used to made a fatty leaves shaped nastar
    glad you've prepared and present the nastar cookies really good

  25. Really gorgeous pineapple rolls you made.Thanks for share you experiment with us

  26. Phew! That's a lot of baking and all of it looks delicious to me. :D

  27. Thank you for sharing the detailed comparison. I ended up going for NLL's recipe. It was my first attempt and recipe is so easy to follow, great success being first attempt. Love the melt in mouth texture which what I aim for :)

    1. Glad that you like NLL's recipe. We like it too and surprised to find that the other recipes are also good!!! :D

  28. Hi, do you add all 50 ml cream on dough? (As per The Sweet Pot recipe). Or, you only add some when you feel the dough feels dry?

    1. Hi,

      For this taste test, I have stick to the recipes exactly and if I added anything extra, I will mention in my post. Sorry that I don't understand very well. Why did you mention 50ml cream but I have mentioned that I have added 8g cream in every 100g butter used in my post. My apology that I can't answer your question entirely.



  29. hi zoe, may i asked if open tarted also uses the same 160c 18 mins?

    1. Hi Joanna,

      Depending on the thickness of ypur pastry and also the size and shapes of the cutter you used, you can use these recipes to bake the open faced tarts at 160C fan forced or 180C for 10-15 mins.



  30. Hi Zoe,

    Very impressed by your effort in testing out all the recipes! Can I know what cream is used in The Sweet Spot's recipe? Thanks.

    1. Hi,

      I'm using regular thickened cream with 35% fat. Cheers!


    2. Ok thanks Zoe! Cheers and wishing you a prosperous New Year!

  31. may i replace the lemon juice with lime juice?

    1. Hi, I don't remember using lemon juice to bake these pineapple tarts. Errr...

  32. Dear Zoe,
    I have tried making these rolled pineapple tarts, quite nice if eaten same day or the day after. But after 2-3 days, when you want to take them from the jar, they kind of break easily....the dough too soft. What is the solution to this problem?

    1. Hi,

      This is strange as we have not encountered this problem before. I'm guessing... Is your jar absolutely air-tight? Did you bake your tarts dry enough? Is your pineapple jam too wet? ... resulting the moisture of your pineapple jam to get absorbed into the pastry. Did you handle the tarts with wet hands? Did you substitute any ingredients or make any modifications causing the pastry to be softer?


  33. HI Zoe. where can i buy the Nastar mould?

    1. Hi, You can buy the plastic nastar mould easily from ebay and Amazon or some online baking shops. A nice friend from Malaysia bought the metal ones for me :)