Chinese New Year (CNY) is around the corner. Though we don’t celebrate CNY here in the US, I always take this time as an excuse to bake CNY goodies. This year I decided to bake kueh bangkit and pineapple tarts and make bak kwa (Chinese BBQ pork jerky).
Pineapple tarts are one of the hubs’ favourites and I like them too. There are typically two ways to make the tarts – open or closed. Open tarts have pineapple jam on a pastry base, while closed tarts have jam inside a pastry. My MIL usually does not bake the jam and pastry base together as the jam usually dries out. Instead, she assembles the two together fresh when guests arrive. I thought this was a great idea and also do it this way.
Pineapple jam is readily available in Singapore and most people just buy it and bake their own pastry base. However, I always find the jam too sweet or not flavourful enough. While living in Montreal, I was inspired to try and make the jam myself. Fresh pineapples were not readily available so I used canned pineapples in pineapple juice. I made the mistake of not draining off the excess juice before cooking. As such, my jam took hours to make. The jam still takes a good 2 hours to reduce on the stove but it’s so worth it. I don’t like my jam too sweet, as such, I only add half the recommended amount of sugar. For the pastry base, I use a recipe recommended by my MIL. It’s a buttery, crumbly pastry that melts in your mouth. You can bake the jam on top of the pastry – I tried it this time round and the jam didn’t dry out. However, I still prefer assembling them fresh so that they are always warm.
We had some leftover pastry so the hubs decided to have some fun and create little animals and objects. Below are some shots of his creations.
Open Pineapple Tarts
(jam recipe – own; pastry base recipe taken from here)
For the jam:
- 2 cans pineapple in pineapple juice (you can buy crushed pineapple or pineapple slices); drain and remove as much liquid as possible. If the pineapple is not crushed, process in food processor.
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 2-3 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
For the pastry base:
- 680g flour
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 2 tablespoons fine sugar
- 455g butter
- 1 egg (I actually forgot to add the egg in and the pastry base turned out fine)
- 55ml iced water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
- 3 drops yellow food coloring (for glazing) OR 1 egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water
To make the jam:
- Combine all ingredients together except the lemon juice and cook down until thickened and pineapple jam forms. About 2 hours.
- Add squeeze of lemon, stir and cool.
To make the pastry base:
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
- Sift flour with salt and sugar.
- Rub butter into flour till mixture resembles breadcrumbs. You can use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment for this task.
- Beat egg lightly, add to flour. Add iced water, vanilla essence to form a pastry dough. Chill for 1/2 an hour.
- In the meantime, if baking pineapple jam onto tart, roll pineapple filling into little balls. Put back in refrigerator.
- Roll pastry to 0.5cm thickness on floured board or marble top. Cut with special tart cutter and arrange cut pastry on cookie tray. Glaze tarts with a pastry brush.
- Place pineapple filling on pastry.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 350°F.
- Reduce heat to 300°F and bake for another 10-15 minutes till light brown.
- Cool tarts on wire rack before storing in airtight container.