Singapore Pineapple Tarts
Yields about 100 tarts
When I was growing up in Singapore, Chinese New Year meant one thing: my grandmother’s pineapple tarts. The salty, buttery, bite-size circles topped with quarter-size dollops of dense, homemade pineapple jam were an obsession for me. We had them in the house just once a year, at the lunar new year, when Singaporeans spend two days visiting friends and relatives to swap tales of business and children’s test scores over tea and sweets. Quantities aren’t exact. My aunts don’t use a recipe, and they laughed at me the first 10 times I asked them for this one. The first set of instructions they gave me for pineapple jam was, “Aiyah, you just juice the pineapple, add sugar and then boil, boil, boil!”
For the jam:
at least ½ kilogram sugar (at least 2 ½ cups, depending on desired sweetness)
2 to 3 pandan leaves* knotted together
1 long cinnamon stick, broken in two
- Peel the pineapples, dig out the eyes and chop into chunks. Run the chunks through a juicer. Place the pulp in a large wok or pot with a large surface area and heat on the stove. Add the juice until the mixture has the consistency of porridge or grits; add the knotted pandan leaves and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and keep it there for a total of three hours, stirring often. Halfway through, taste the jam, and add sugar by the half cup until it is as sweet as you desire. (Note: The amount of sugar needed will vary greatly depending on how ripe the pineapples are.)
- The jam is done when the pineapple mixture has changed color from bright yellow to brownish ochre and most of the liquid has evaporated, leaving a dense but moist jam.
*Pandan leaves, also called screwpine, can be found frozen in some Asian grocery stores.
For the pastry:
375 grams salted butter (3 sticks plus 2 ½ Tablespoons) at room temperature
600 grams flour (about 4 ¾ cups)
4 egg yolks, plus 1 yolk for brushing onto pastry
- With a mixer on low speed, combine the butter, flour and four egg yolks, mixing for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Place dough in a cookie press fitted with a disc featuring a circle of diamonds. Press cookies out onto greased baking sheets. Form small balls of dough and press each one into the hollow of a cookie, forming the base of the tart.
- Beat the remaining egg yolk with ½ teaspoon of water. Brush the rim of each tart generously. Take a scant teaspoon of pineapple jam (more or less, as desired) and form a ball, then press into the hollow of each tart. Pat the sides of the jam to create a small dome.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees, until golden brown. Remove cookies from sheets and cool on a rack.