When I was a kid, I loved these pineapple tarts. Back home in Malaysia, these are plentiful in the shops during Chinese New Year. I made them for the first time ever this year at Chinese New Year … actually I started way before Chinese New Year as I was experimenting with the recipe and tweaking it until I got it right. My colleagues and friends were enthusiastic guinea pigs in the weeks running up to Chinese New Year.
Over the weekend, I decided I was going to make some pineapple tarts. Dinoboy got quite excited when he saw me make the jam because he thought it meant that Chinese New Year was close by and he would get the usual monetary gifts he associated with Chinese New Year. He was quite disappointed when I told him that Chinese New Year wasn’t around the corner at all and I was only making them for fun!
These open tarts are simply a shortbread cookie baked with a dollop of pineapple jam in the middle. The shortbread pastry is wonderfully short and crumbly and not too sweet – hence the perfect companion for the sweet pineapple jam.
Back home in Malaysia, the jam is traditionally made with grated fresh pineapples. I found several recipes online which used tinned pineapples. It works really well and is a lot simpler to manage.
Making the pineapple jam is pretty easy.
• Approximately 3 cans (net weight per can 567g) sliced pineapples in pineapple juice – I drained the pineapple slices completely, put them into my food processor and blitzed it until it was a fine-ish pulp. I then used my measuring cup and measured out 4 cups of pineapple pulp. The 3 cans yielded roughly 4 cups of pulp.
• Sugar – I used ¾ (three quarter) cup of sugar for each cup of pineapple pulp. So 4 cups pulp = 3 cups of sugar
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 1 large stick of cinnamon
• 6 cloves
• 1 segment of star anise
I used my Le Creuset enamelled cast iron dutch oven to cook my jam in. Pineapples are pretty acidic – please do not use your non-stick pots to make your jam. Apparently making this jam in non-stick coated pans or aluminium pans ruins them. Stainless steel pots can be used. Apparently you can also make the jam in a large glass bowl in the microwave. I put everything into the pot and brought it up to the boil, then simmered it for about a couple of hours, stirring constantly, until the mixture is reduced and is sticky and thick. The really tricky part of cooking the jam is knowing when to stop. I normally cook the jam till it coats the wooden spoon and the jam doesn't fall off the spoon immediately. The jam should be a rich golden colour. Here is a photo of my jam – which has gone just slightly darker than I would have liked.
When the jam is done, pick out the spices and discard them. Then put the jam into a container and put it into the fridge until you need to use it. I normally make the jam a day before I want to make my tarts.
It’s a lot easier to roll the jam into small balls like these before cutting the pastry shapes out. I use a teaspoon and each ball is roughly a third of a teaspoonful. The jam when chilled is sticky and should be firm enough to roll into a small ball between the palms of your hands. Dampen your palms slightly when rolling the balls.
On to the pastry for the tarts. I used the following to make 1 portion of pastry:
340g plain flour
2 tablespoon icing sugar
Half teaspoon salt
200g cold butter – cut into small chunks.
1 egg yolk
Half teaspoon vanilla essence
5 teaspoon ice-cold water
Half teaspoon baking powder
By the way, you will also need 1 egg beaten with a teaspoon of water for glazing the tarts just prior to baking.
I normally make my pastry in my food processor. Put flour, salt and sugar into the food processor and pulse a couple of times to mix. Then add the chunks of butter and pulse until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk, water, vanilla essence and pulse the mixture until a dough is formed. It’ll look like this.
Turn out onto a piece of food wrap, shape it lightly into a sausage-like shape, wrap it up and chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
I normally make 2 or 3 portions of this pastry at a time. 1 portion makes around 30 tarts and will use up roughly a quarter of your jam.
Preheat the oven to 190º C. Cut the chilled pastry into 4 chunks.
Roll each chunk out on a floured surface until approx a quarter inch thick.
Cut shapes out of the pastry. I used this special pineapple tart mould which I bought from the Biodiversity Herbs website.
The outer ring cuts the shape and the press in the middle stamps a pattern in the pastry and makes a hollow in the middle ready for your jam ball. See?
Space the tarts slightly apart on a baking sheet.
Brush each tart with the glaze I mentioned earlier. Then drop a ball of jam in each and press the ball down slightly into the hollow in the tart. Here they are ready to go into the oven.
I baked these for 15 minutes in the oven. When done, I removed the tarts and placed them on a wire rack to cool. Yum!
I normally store them in an airtight container after they have cooled. I have no idea how long these keep for in the airtight container as they don’t last very long in our house and if I take them into work, they disappear very quickly indeed.
Wishing you a good week ahead, friends.