I wrote this recipe out of boredom one fine day in I can’t remember when, and I decided that I would endeavour to make the best Pineapple Tarts in the world. At least the best according to my taste buds, and I am one to not easily like Pineapple Tarts. To be honest, I hate eating Pineapple Tarts that I buy from outside, they are just not to my liking for some reason.
There was always something wrong with it. Either there was some strange after taste of oil which makes my teeth “siap-siap” or the jam was just too sweet. I simply hated it.
As Chinese New Year was around the corner then, I thought it would be great if I can make my own Pineapple Tarts instead of buying them this year. This is an all time favourite for many, and for me it’s also one of those must do; must try recipes. And trust me, it’s true what they say about doing Pineapple Tarts the traditional way. It’s nothing short of tedious. But nothing ventured; nothing gained. So let’s try it!
If you want to learn how to do anything well the first time, you got to do everything from scratch, that means – no shortcuts!
So I bought a pineapple, one whole, from NTUC named “Sweet 16” – please don’t ask me why it’s called that – apparently it’s supposed to be a sweeter variety of pineapple. Alright, whatever.
I started scouring Google as well as asking around for the best Pineapple Tart recipe. There were many who ranted and raved about their recipes, and some even swore by their great-grandmother’s grave, but like they all say, the prove of the pudding is in the tasting, isn’t it? And after all that reading, I decided that if the pastry has enough butter, it will melt in your mouth; not in your hands. And if it has enough egg yolks, it will be soft and creamy as well. A little sugar for tasting and salted butter would give it that added savory flavour.
The difficulty in making Pineapple Tarts the traditional way is the grating of the pineapple – I did that by hand – and then afterwards cooking it in the saucepan till the sugars in the pineapple caramelised. This is a slow and tender process of stirring the mixture over a medium heat to allow the water content within to evaporate while preventing the sugars in the pineapple from caramelising too quickly. This whole painstaking process of cooking the pineapple filling took me about 45 minutes. And mind you, this is just for one pineapple. I don’t know how some people manage four pineapples at one go?!
As you can see in the picture, one whole pineapple weighs about 700 grams (minus the metal bowl), quite a lot of pineapple if you think about it. I grated the whole pineapple including the centre of the fruit and that’s how you get the stringy texture in the fillings.
I added 5 teaspoons of Castor Sugar into the pineapple mixture noting that this is not your garden variety of pineapple as it is already sweeter to begin with. Adjust the sweetness accordingly. I chose 5 teaspoons because 5 is the number of grace. You can also do likewise.
As the water content in the mixture dries, you can see (literally) the sugars starting to caramelise and the pineapple mixture starts to brown. This is the critical part because if you let up your concentration now, the mixture will burn and you will have to start all over again. Thank God mine turned out perfect.
For the pastry, I decided that I wanted a soft buttery and yet not too overwhelming feeling in the mouth – in other words – I can pop 5-6 Pineapple Tarts and still have an appetite for other yummy new year goodies. I decided to use 300g of Plain Flour combined with 45g of Castor Sugar and mixed in a whole slab of salted Butter – 250g (room temperature) and using the tip of a metal fork, I pressed in the Butter into the Flour and continued pressing until the Flour, Sugar and Butter was well-combined.
I decided that I wanted my Pineapple Tarts to be soft and creamy and that basically calls for more Egg Yolks. This is not your typical Lisa Leong Healthy Recipe. It’s sinful to say the least. I added 4 Egg Yolks (no whites!) and continued with the “Fork Technique” of pressing the dough instead of kneading immediately. The whole idea behind the “Fork Technique” is so as not to stress the dough with too much hard-hitting tension.
When it is fairly combined, dust the table with some flour, and massage the dough mixture a little more. And then leaving it to “breathe” for about half an hour. This is to allow the dough to “rest a little” (from all that tension from the kneading).
Then roll out whatever amount you want to bake, into whatever shape you want. I decided that I wanted to do them in the shape of rounded pillow cushions. You may prefer the Pyramids of Giza. Whatever. So I literally hand-moulded each one of these beauties, glazed the tops of each with egg yolk and water batter so that they will all glisten gloriously after baking.
I baked them in 160 Degress Celsius in the oven for about 20 minutes and then allowing them to brown a little in the oven for 5 more minutes with the power turned off. The oven that I am using is a Dual-Heating Element type (top and bottom) and with the tray placed in the middle, so that the temperature will be evenly distributed. Remember to pre-heat the oven for at least 10 minutes before putting in the tray. Then you get on your knees and pray that they turn out ok.
Once they are done, take out the tray to let the pineapple tarts cool. They turned out ok! Thank God. Technically speaking, they aren’t really tarts, more like Kisses. Well whatever, you should get the idea, right? And it’s ready to eat.
Melts in your mouth, not in your hands, filling is not too sweet, blends in perfectly with the pastry and the pastry is not too overwhelming, soft and crumbly. Perfect.
Here’s the ingredients list if you didn’t know what in the world I was saying just now.
1 Whole Pineapple (sweet type or honey pineapple) – if you choose the not-so-sweet type, you might have to tweak the sugars by taste.
5 teaspoons of Castor Sugar – remember 5 is the number of grace!
1. Hand-grate the whole pineapple including the core of the fruit. Do not short-cut the process and use a blender, although it would definitely make the whole process easier. Doing so would change the texture of your pineapple filling.
2. Cook the pineapple mixture over medium heat, and make sure it doesn’t burn. Note: Don’t be tempted to use high heat as it will make it harder for you to estimate when exactly the sugars will caramelised.
3. Keep stirring, and tossing, and turning the mixture with a wooden spoon till it is fully caramelised into a pulpy sticky mixture. Don’t let it dry up or brown too much. For one whole pineapple, this should take about 45 minutes.
300g Plain Flour
45g Castor Sugar
250g Salted Butter (room temperature) – Please don’t short-cut the process by melting it in the microwave or oven. You don’t want to end up inadvertently cooking the flour while mixing the dough.
1. Weigh the flour on a digital kitchen scale, make sure it is exact. Add in the Sugar and mix with a fork, so that the sugars are evenly distributed. Then add the Butter and continue to press the dough in using the tip of the fork.
2. Add 3 egg yolks (no whites) and continue to use the “Fork Technique” to press in the egg yolks until they are well-combined. Remember to knead the dough and then let it rest (or breathe) for 30 minutes before rolling them into shape.
All the best, and Happy Chinese New Year folks, even if it is not Chinese New Year, you also can make Pineapple Tarts.