I was at an Asian store recently with my younger son, and was browsing the shelves in great detail, much to his chagrin.
C’mon, Mama! Don’t take too long. It’s so boring here. Let’s go…
Shhh!! I’m busy here…
And then…. bingo! I was bewitched by one particular item on the shelf.
I was beaming when I saw the familiar looking cookies and my son was delighted I finally found something after striding around for ages on end. Phew! While at the cash counter to pay for my items, the cashier looked up at me and smiled broadly 😃
He said, “You must be a Malaysian, right?”
“Huh? How can you tell?” I asked
“Because only Malaysians buy the pineapple jam cookies“, he replied with a huge smile on his face 😃
Store-bought vs Homemade
While home, I had a closer look at the plastic case and noticed the Malaysian flag on it. Ah…. that’s why!
By the way, I did not buy the jam tart because of the flag. I was, infact, as blind as a bat when I reached for the cookies at the time. Now the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
First thing’s first, the tart was crumbly from the first bite. It sort of of melt-in-the-mouth, but there was an unpleasant flavour. It must be the E-number artificial food colouring. No wonder, the pastry was too yellow for my liking. The pineapple paste filling was the stingiest I have ever seen. I could not remember how it tasted like at all, because there was almost nothing filled inside the pastry to draw a taste test. I tasted only the crumbly artificially-buttered-and-coloured pastry, which was quite off-putting, if you ask me. On the contrary, I must admit that the shape and linear pattern on the cookies were rather impressive.
With a lot of effort, we finally finished the store-bought pineapple tarts for more than a week. Then I challenged myself to make my own pineapple tarts from scratch. BUT, I was pampered by a blogger friend, Miss B, when she came to my house last year to pass me a packet of 500g of Redman Pineapple Paste all the way from Singapore (thanks, Miss B). Honestly, that was the best pineapple paste I have tasted ala store-bought. It was not too sweet with natural pineapple flavour and perfect consistency for making pineapple tarts. By the way, I tweaked the paste by spicing it up with some cinnamon and clove powders. Not a lot but just enough to enhance the Nyonya-ness of the paste. LOL!
Here were the results of the store-bought vs homemade pineapple tarts.
I was definitely feeling Goliath-ish that day 🙂
I have made pineapple tarts before and had always used the same recipe, however, this time, I used another recipe from a friend because I had half a kilogram of pineapple paste! I tweaked her recipe according to personal preference and availability of ingredients
- 550g plain flour ( I reduced to 450g)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 350g butter (I used 250g cold butter because that’s what I had left in the fridge!)
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 Tbsp castor sugar – fine (I reduced to 1.5 Tbsp)
- 2 tsp vanilla essence (I did not use)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 Tbsp hot water (I did not use)
- A few drops of yellow food colouring (I definitely did NOT use)
- 500g Redman Pineapple paste (I added freshly ground cloves and a pinch of cinnamon powder and wore rubber gloves to knead the mixed spices into the paste)
Glazing/ Egg wash
- Mix 1 egg yolk with 1 Tbsp condensed milk
Method (how I usually prep and assemble my tarts without using any flashy tart moulds)
The night or day before: Make equal size pineapple balls using a measuring spoon of 1/2 Tbsp each. Place onto a clean flat plate/ dish and cover with a cling film once done, and let rest in the fridge overnight or until ready to be used
1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl
2. Knead cold rock solid butter into flour with finger tips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Add in egg yolks and continue kneading until a pastry is formed. It does not take long at all
5. Use a measuring spoon of 1 Tbsp to scoop the pastry and flatten it with the palm of your hand. Place the ball-shape pineapple paste in the centre of the flattened pastry. Close it up and form shapes to your preference. I shaped mine in a slightly rectangular form to represent the shape of a pineapple.
7. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 18 minutes and apply the egg wash for a second time. Continue baking for 5 minutes.
Verdict: One thing’s for sure, store-bought pineapple tarts cannot beat homemade ones. The freshly baked cookies with the subtle aroma of the spiced up paste smelt amazing coming out from the oven. With the ‘new’ recipe I have used, it’s not as crumbly as the store-bought tarts. The baked pastry was mildly crispy on the outside but crumbly in the inside. BUT, the filling was top notch generous! In hindsight, I should have used the ingredients which I have used in my original recipe, with icing sugar, less egg yolks plus a bit of egg white and I noted that the percentage of butter to flour should be in the region of 60% or more. Only then I can shout out that I have made 99.9% melt-in-the-mouth pineapple tarts! For now, it’s 90% melt-in-the-mouth. But hey, who’s complaining? There are 4 pineapple cookie jar monsters in the house. The tarts gone in a jiffy!
500g of pineapple paste was a LOT! There were 30 orphaned and naked pineapple balls left. Lol!
With no pastry left, the smart alec in me bought a roll of store-bought puff pastry and made 30 round-shape and 30 star-shape dough. I placed each pineapple paste on the round disc shape dough and topped it up with the star cap. They looked stunning, just like mini edible Terracotta Army . Ha ha ha..! I was so excited with my creative self.
Then I baked them in the oven….. BUT… I was in for a rude shock!!
Ring-a-ring o’ roses
A pocket full of posies
We all fall down…
The puff pastry really puffed up and toppled every pineapple ball.
The poor fallen warriors. Lol!
And then the determined me quickly put them back together, while they were still hot.
Now, don’t they look pretty together?
Verdict: With not enough pastry to encase the paste, the taste of the tart was chewier when baked because there was more pineapple paste to chew on. Guess what, I crazily LOVED the taste and texture, and so did my 3 guys. Not the real McCoy, but it was only a quick fix to make use of everything. Waste not, want not 😜
The pineapple tart is one of the many favourites of all cookies served during Festive occasions in Malaysia and Singapore. Its definitely one of my favourites. With Chinese New Year round the corner, I am linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: Chinese New Year 2016 hosted by Yen from GoodyFoodies, Diana from The Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids