Pineapple Tarts are one of my favourite Chinese New Year cookies. Traditionally a Nyonya delicacy, these tarts are consumed during festivities for its symbolism of prosperity and auspiciousness for the year ahead. And also because, they are incredibly delicious! These pineapple tarts have a tender and melt-in-the-mouth crust which melts away to reveal the sweet and tangy pineapple jam.
Pineapple Jam / Pineapple Filling / Pineapple Paste
I used store-bought pineapple paste when I first started making pineapple tarts (I first started making them in 2011). It wasn’t until 2019 (or 2020?) that I started experimenting my own pineapple paste. I wrote a detailed post on it in 2022 (which I hope to continue to update it every year when I make pineapple tarts for Chinese New Year). Everything about homemade pineapple paste is documented there so I won’t elaborate further.
This tart dough recipe is used for enclosed pineapple tarts. I haven’t made other types of pineapple tarts as my family likes only enclosed pineapple tarts. Or rather, I’m too lazy to experiment other recipes as this has worked every single time for the past 10+ years (since 2011!)
I prefer an overall sweet and tangy pineapple tart. Hence the flavour profile of the tart dough is neutral – not distinctively sweet or salty. Some people like their tart tough to be on the saltier side, you can increase the amount of salt, or use salted butter and omit the salt in the recipe.
Let’s Talk Butter
TLDR: Use only your favourite and best-quality butter you can afford. My favourite is Lurpark unsalted butter which I buy from United Bakery.
I did an experiment back in 2012 on 3 different brands of butter – SCS, Elle et Vire and Lurpark.
SCS (documented in 2012): SCS butter is a sweet scream butter. It is also very milky – the butter and milky smell was extremely strong when the tarts were baking. As I was not very fond of milky taste/smell, the smell really got me and I did not feel like eating my own tarts any more! The milky taste was quite noticeable in the tart crust – as if I had added milk powder into tart dough recipe. If you are a fan of milky pineapple tarts, you may choose to use this butter.
Elle et Vire and Lurpark (documented in 2012): Both are lactic butters. Unlike SCS butter, these two type of tarts did not have a strong milky smell while baking and they did not taste milky. The tarts tasted richer and more buttery than those made using SCS butter.
Where I Get My Butter
Butter is getting extremely expensive in Singapore. The prices have been climbing steadily over the past years. Back in 2012 (prices from big supermarkets), one 250-gram block of SCS cost $3.50; while one 250-gram block of Lurpark cost $5-$6. Nowadays SCS and Lurpark butter retail at reduced 225-gram portions in supermarkets and the prices can really made me baulk.
Since 2020, I started using only Lurpark butter for all my baking as I buy them in bulk from United Bakery (2023: one box of 20 costs $84.50; $4.23 per 250-gram block). United Bakery also has SCS butter if you prefer. I freeze the butter and transfer them to the refrigerator a few blocks at a time as needed. If you are not able to buy butter in bulk, I would suggest heading to Sunlik as I remember they sell SCS and Lurpark butter at slightly more pocket-friendly prices than supermarkets. Phoon Huat unfortunately do not stock these brands and somehow I never really like the brands of butter they carry. Please note that I am not sponsored or paid to advertise United Bakery or Sunlik. I’m just sharing my experience!
Getting My Favourite Texture
TLDR: See (1), (2), (3).
I like my pineapple tarts to be able to hold their shape when picked up or stacked in containers, yet melt away to reveal the sweet and tangy pineapple paste the moment they enter my mouth. This is achieved with the following:
1) Ingredients: Plain flour has a higher protein content than cake flour so the pastry will be firmer. To give it a melt-in-the-mouth texture, icing sugar and cornstarch is used.
2) Creaming: Butter is first creamed until very light and fluffy to aerate and lighten the tart dough.
3) Handle gently: Handle the pastry as gently as possible the moment the dry mixture is mixed in. This is to prevent gluten formation which will make the tart dough tough and lose the melt-in-the-mouth texture.
The Golden Ratio
TLDR: It depends on personal preference. Weigh them if you can.
I used to like a pineapple tart with more dough than filling. But now I like a 1:1 ratio. Hence I have updated the recipe accordingly. Do scale the recipe accordingly if you are using a different ratio.
I do not like using a teaspoon or tablespoon or agak-agak (estimate) to measure the pineapple paste or tart dough. Hence I use my jewelry weighing machine and weigh out individual pineapple paste and tart dough. It takes more effort but at least I know that the tarts will come out consistent.
Don’t Forget the Egg Wash
TLDR: Thin coat will do, and do it gently!
Now that we have gone through all the effort to make the pineapple paste, tart dough, and wrapping, it’s time to bake the pineapple tarts!
In the past, I mix my egg yolks with water, then apply a thick layer on top to get the deep golden top. But sometimes the tarts have an eggy flavour – because the egg wash is too thick!
So nowadays, I use pure egg yolks (no mixing with water or milk), and apply a thin coat instead. As the coat is very thin, do ensure the egg wash covers the top completely. Also do it very gently, especially during the second egg wash as the pastry is very tender when hot. The last thing you want is the pastry disintegrating when you apply the egg wash.
And that’s it for pineapple tarts! I revamped and updated the post and recipe in Jan 2023 to include more of my learnings from making this beloved Chinese New Year treat over the years. Making pineapple tarts is definitely not easy and it is indeed very time-consuming. But I love it when my loved ones enjoy these treats (and of course especially more when they told me they like it!) If you have used the recipe and like it, do let me know! (:
|1) Place the unsalted butter in another bowl.||2) Using an electric mixer, cream the mixture for 30 seconds on low speed and turn the speed up to medium-high and cream for 5 minutes, scraping the sides occasionally until the butter is light, creamy, fluffy and pale in colour.|
|3) Beat egg yolks in a small bowl. While the electric mixer is running on low, drizzle in the beaten egg yolks. Turn up the speed to medium and cream until the egg yolks has been fully incorporated into the butter.||4) Add in half of the sifted flour mixture (or sift the flour mixture directly into the mixing bowl).|
|5) Fold gently or mix on low speed until 90% of the flour mixture has been incorporated||6) Add in remaining of the sifted flour mixture (or sift remaining flour mixture directly into the mixing bowl).|
|7) Fold gently or mix on low speed until the flour mixture has just been incorporated and the mixture forms a dough.||8) When dealing with a large batch of dough, use a dough scraper to scoop the dough out.|
|9) Scoop the dough out onto a work surface.||10) Fold a few times to ensure all the flour is mixed in, but do not over-work the dough.|
|11) Wrap it up with the clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.||12) While dough is chlling, divide the pineapple jam. I weigh them - 7.5 to 8 grams each. Roll into a ball. Chill the rolled pineapple jam in the refrigerator|
|13) Divide tart dough to approximately 8 to 8.5 grams each. Roll into a ball and set aside.||14) Flatten one tart dough.|
|15) Place a chilled pineapple ball in the center.||16) Wrap it up. It is easier to wrap it up when the pineapple balls are well-chilled.|
|17) Shape into desired shape (round or logs).||18) Place tarts on lined baking sheet. Space them 1 finger spacing apart from one another.|
|19) Very gently apply the first layer of egg wash.||20) Bake for 15 minutes in the centre rack.|
|21) Very gently apply the second layer of egg wash.||22) Rotate the tray 180° and bake for another 8 minutes in the centre rack. If the top is not golden-browned enough to your liking, turn on the top grill function and grill for 2 to 3 minutes, rotating the tray 180° every minute to ensure the top is evenly golden.|
Chinese New Year Pineapple Tarts
- 2-3 egg yolks
Make Pineapple Tart Dough
- Sift the plain flour, salt, corn flour and icing sugar into a bowl.600 grams all-purpose flour, 22 grams corn flour, 2 grams salt, 90 grams icing sugar
- Place the unsalted butter in another bowl. Using an electric mixer, cream the mixture for 30 seconds on low speed and turn the speed up to medium-high and cream for 5 minutes, scraping the sides occasionally until the butter is light, creamy, fluffy and pale in colour.375 grams unsalted butter
- Beat egg yolks in a small bowl. While the electric mixer is running on low, drizzle in the beaten egg yolks. Turn up the speed to medium and cream until the egg yolks has been fully incorporated into the butter.60 grams egg yolks
- Using a huge rubber spatula or metal spoon, fold in the flour mixture in two batches gently until just incorporated. (If using a stand mixer, you can use the lowest speed to incorporate the flour mixture until just combined.)
- Lay a large piece of clingfilm / plastic wrap on the table. Turn the dough out onto the plastic wrap. Fold a few times to ensure all the flour is mixed in, but do not over-work the dough. Wrap it up with the clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Divide Pineapple Jam
- Divide the pineapple filling to approximately 7.5 to 8 grams each. Roll into a ball. Chill the rolled pineapple jam in the refrigerator1 kilogram pineapple filling / jam
Divide Pineapple Tart Dough and Wrap
- Line baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper.
- Divide tart dough to approximately 8 to 8.5 grams each. Roll into a ball and set aside.
- Flatten tart dough with the heel of your hand, then enclose one pineapple jam inside. It is easier to wrap when the pineapple jam is chilled, so work in batches if needed.
- Shape each pineapple tart into rounds or into golden pillows, as desired. Place it on the baking sheet. Space the pineapple tarts 1 finger spacing apart from one another.
- Preheat oven to 160°C (conventional) / 150°C (convectional).
- Whisk egg yolks for egg wash together in a small bowl until it's a smooth consistency.2-3 egg yolks
- Dip a pastry brush into the egg wash and brush the sides of the bowl to remove excess egg wash.
- Very, very gently apply a thin layer of egg wash on the top of the pineapple tarts.
- Bake for 15 minutes in the centre rack.
- Similar to the First Bake, apply a second thin layer of egg wash on the top of the pineapple tarts gently.
- Rotate the tray 180° and bake for another 8 minutes in the centre rack.
- If the top is not golden-browned enough to your liking, turn on the top grill function and grill for 2 to 3 minutes, rotating the tray 180° every minute to ensure the top is evenly golden.
Cool and Store
- Place the tray on a rack and let the pineapple tarts cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
- If using homemade pineapple jam: As my homemade jam contains minimal sugar, the pineapple tarts last only about 7 days at room temperature. For longer storage, store the tarts in the refrigerator – let them come to room temperature before consuming.
- If using store-bought pineapple jam: The pineapple tarts can most likely last up to 14 days, if properly stored in an airtight container.
- After years of experimenting, I now like a ratio of 1:1 for my pineapple tarts. To me, this ratio is a good balance between pineapple jam and the pastry. Do scale the recipe accordingly if you like a different ratio.
- Making pineapple tarts is time-consuming. To break up the making of pineapple tarts, cook the pineapple paste (if making) and make the dough the day before. Chill them in the refrigerator. Spend the next day wrapping and baking the tarts. Tip: Grab your family and friends to help wrap the tarts!