Homemade traditional pineapple tarts are the best treats during Chinese New Year. They are small bite sized pastries which are then filled with homemade pineapple jam or on the dough for open face pineapple tarts. The best pineapple tarts should have a lightly dense dough to hold the pineapple jam but will fall apart to melt in your mouth the very moment you eat them. It should also be mostly sweet from the pineapple juice. But how did pineapple tarts became so popular?
Malacca was under the colony of Portuguese for 130 years. When the Portuguese left, their influence were seen in architecture, culture and also food. Tarts are native to Portugal. The typical technique of rubbing butter into flour to make the dough flaky is exactly the way tarts are made in Portugal. Since pineapples were abundance, locals begin making pineapple tarts.
The term ‘ong lai’ means pineapple but at the same time it also sounds very similar to ‘prosperity/fortune comes’. That is why pineapple tarts are popular during Chinese New Year, to either welcome guests at home or as gifts to friends and family.
Traditionally, Nyonya/Peranakan pineapple tart recipe uses margarine to make the dough dense. This gives the crunchy effect instead of crumbly. Besides that, using margarine makes these cookies last longer compared to butter. That's why, many traditional cookies or snacks uses margarine instead of butter. Having said that, you can always use butter in this recipe. Do note that the dough would be more crumbly when using butter. Since the recipe of the dough has salt, use unsalted butter or omit salt from the recipe if you prefer to use salted butter.
The act of rubbing margarine or butter into flour makes the dough flaky. This leaves little lumps of margarine or butter in the dough. When these little lumps melt during the baking process, the dough will have "air" in its structure which makes it flaky. That is why it is important to not over knead the dough or you will end up with a very hard tart.
When preparing to make these tarts, it is advisable to cook the pineapple jam at least one night before. The pineapple jam can be kept refrigerated up to a week. It can also be frozen up to 6 months. To use frozen pineapple jam, thaw it first.
Pineapple tarts turn mouldy when there is too much moisture when stored in air tight containers. Store the baked room temperature pineapple tarts in an air tight container up to 3 months, away from the sun. Otherwise, store them in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
In countries where pineapples aren't native, it may be best to get canned pineapples. The best would be pineapples which are not canned in sugared water. For this recipe, I'd recommend 3 cans of pineapples as the core is usually removed in canned pineapples. You'd end up with more pineapple jam but that would be better than realising you have too much dough but left without any pineapple jam. Also do reduce sugar accordingly as most canned pineapples have added sugar.
You may had noticed in the video that there might be too much pineapple jam on the tarts for your liking. You can always lessen the amount of the pineapple jam as per your preference. If you do so, remember to double the ingredients of the dough so that you have enough to work on and would not end up with excessive pineapple jam. The process is undeniably time consuming but once you are done, you will agree that it is well worth the effort. Trust me, you will be beaming with pride too!
This recipe yields about 40 pieces of pineapple tarts or 80 pieces, if you doubled the dough.
Nyonya Pineapple Tarts is also known as: Tat NenasNastar cookies娘惹黄梨挞
Cut and blend pineapples. Discard pineapple juice using a sieve.
Cook pineapple at medium-low heat, along with cinnamon stick and clove for at least 25 minutes or until pineapple puree becomes drier. Add rock sugar. Continue cooking at low heat to get a jam-like consistency and golden brown in colour. Remove cinnamon stick and clove. Leave aside to cool.
In a clean bowl, rub margarine into flour. Then, add egg, salt and water.
Mix all ingredients evenly to create a dough. Avoid over kneading to prevent it from getting hard. Leave the dough to set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Flatten dough and mould them into shapes using a pineapple tart mould or a cookie cutter. Place pineapple jam onto the dough. Brush egg wash (a mixture of 1 egg and 1 tsp of water) on the surface of the tarts.
Bake at 180 degrees Celcius for 20 minutes.