Chinese New Year is just around the corner. And that means plenty of yummy, calorie-laden CNY treats, like pineapple tarts.
But I find that store-bought pineapple tarts are often dry and tasteless. The best pineapple tarts are always made at home. Fortunately, I have an easy recipe that will have you covered if you’ve decided to make your own tarts this year.
I’m more partial to the open-face tarts than the rolled up ones simply because I think they’re prettier. They look just like sunflowers.
I also make my own pineapple jam, although I do take shortcuts like using canned pineapples. I just like the freedom to tweak flavours to my liking. But if you’re short on time or don’t feel like going through the hassle of making your own jam, I’d rather you use pre-made pineapple jam than not attempt this recipe at all.
The tart base is a simple pate sucree, which is possibly the easiest sweet shortcrust pastry dough in existence. Although I do lay out some steps below, you can just as easily dump all the ingredients into a mixer or food processor and mix away until the dough forms.
250g unsalted butter, softened
100g icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
400g all-purpose flour
2 tsp lemon zest (opt.)
One recipe of homemade pineapple jam (or store-bought pineapple jam paste, if you must)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp water
Makes about 5 dozen tarts.
Step 1: In a mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and salt together until pale yellow and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence. Add in the flour and lemon zest (if using), and mix until everything is well blended. Divide the dough into four equal portions, wrap them in cling-wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour, overnight better.
Step 2: Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Line sheet trays with baking paper.
Step 3: Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll it out on a lightly-floured surface to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out the tarts with a pineapple tart cutter. If you don’t have one, use a plain round cutter about 2-inches in diameter and use a teaspoon to make an indent in the centre of the cutouts. And if at any point the dough starts to fall apart too easily, wrap it up and stick it in the fridge again to let the butter re-solidify. Just use another portion of dough that’s still cold. Lay the tarts out neatly on the lined sheet trays. They don’t expand in the oven so you can squeeze quite a lot of them on one tray, just so long as they don’t touch each other.
Step 4: Roll teaspoon-portions of the pineapple jam into balls between the palms of your hands. (Wetting your hands first with water will make it easier to handle the jam.) Squish each jam ball down into the centre of a tart, flattening it lightly with your thumb. Brush the edges lightly with the beatened egg to encourage browning.
Step 5: When an entire tray is full of completed tarts, bake them for 20 minutes.
When you store your pineapple tarts, don’t forget to separate each layer of tarts with baking paper. I like to store my tarts in the refrigerator, but you don’t really need to.
These pineapple tarts are always a hit with my family and friends, but that’s why I always make double the amount of the recipe. Fortunately, I have my friends Yonghui (a.k.a. Emo.da:ns) and Ryan to help me. It’s an annual tradition for us to make a huge batch of pineapple tarts just before Chinese New Year.
Each of us has a job: I roll and cut out the tarts, Yonghui rolls the jam balls, and Ryan eggwashes. It’s a nice little assembly line and we can complete over 120 tarts in 2 hours. A pineapple tart factory, as Yonghui likes to call it. But I always pay my hired labour well. With tarts.
Baking Adventures is a collaboration between Basic Bakes and QuirkyChic. QuirkyChic is a Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle blog by Caroline & Ruth. To find out more about them, click here. Expect a new Baking Adventure every second Friday of the month!