“Just to clarify—there are no tangerines in this dessert and it doesn’t look like a pie. But it’s still delicious. In Singapore, this is a highly prized gift for Chinese New Year. Traditionally, people give away fresh tangerines (“tangerine” is a homonym for “gold” in Chinese). When Western-style baked goods were introduced, this round turnover was created to resemble the real thing – thus, its crackly orange egg yolk wash and clever little clove on top. This is the first dessert I ever baked. My late aunt Jessie taught me this—and many other family recipes—when we lived together in Singapore. After we packed these pies into little boxes, we would surreptitiously confer about which family members deserved the fruits of our labor. And there always seemed to be only one clear answer—we did!”
Makes 5 1/2 dozen, about 12 servings
2 cups (300 grams, 10 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons (50 grams, 1 3/4 ounces) custard powder
1 tablespoon dried milk powder
3/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon (180 grams, 6 3/8 ounces) unsalted butter
2/3 cup (70 grams, 2 1/2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, beaten
66 whole cloves, optional
2 small pineapples, trimmed, peeled, cored, and finely diced
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (180 grams, 2/3 ounce) palm sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. To make the pineapple filling: Put all of the ingredients into a medium saucepan and set over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has melted and the liquid evaporated, 45 minutes. When the mixture is completely dry, transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and as long as overnight.
2. To make the dough: Sift the flour, custard powder, and milk together and set aside. Put butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream on medium speed until the sugar has dissolved, 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the flour mixture, and mix until incorporated. Add the egg and mix just until the dough comes together. Form the mixture into a ball, press it into a 1-inch thick disc, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and chill until firm, at least 2 hours or as long as overnight.
3. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap the chilled dough and form it into 1-inch balls. Using your fingertips, press a ball into a 3-inch round disc, 1/8-inch thick. Alternatively, roll the whole disc of dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness and cut out 3-inch circles with a biscuit cutter. In either case, put 1 tablespoon of the pineapple filling in the center of the dough circle, fold it in half, and pinch the edges together to seal. Press and gently roll the half moon shape into a ball. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Put the filled balls on a baking sheet, 1-inch apart, and chill until firm, 15 minutes. Brush the balls with the egg yolks and stick a clove in the center of each. Bake until golden, 12 minutes, cool completely, and serve.
Chef’s Tip: Don’t eat the clove. It is only a decorative touch and tasting it will definitely ruin this dessert for you.