Monday 9 February 2015

Chinese New Year Cookies - Delicious Melt In Mouth Pineapple Tart 凤梨酥

What is Chinese New Year without pineapple tarts. It is a must have. Maybe it is because of the meaning behind these tarts. Pineapple in hokkien is "ong lai". The same slang also depicts wealth arriving. Yes, we Chinese are a funny lot. We like to use simple things or actions to signify prosperity. Another example would be "fatt gou" which basically means a leavened cake. At the same time, it also means high in prosperity or something of that sort. But please don't laugh. We Chinese take this seriously. It is a lucrative industry just by selling meaning.

Back to our melt in mouth pineapple tarts. Needless to say, these pineapple tarts are also popular because of its taste. The crumbly layer of buttery pastry with the sweet tangy pineapple filling makes it just delectable. Yes, that's how I prefer my pineapple tarts. Butter and not margarine please. Nowadays, pineapple tart pastries have become so sophisticated that you can get ingredients like cheese, milk and almonds inside.

I call making pineapple tarts a heavyweight task. It is really tedious. First you have to make your own jam, followed by the pastry, and then, the rolling and assembling. If you are not into the long process, you could always buy ready-made pineapple jam from bakery supplies stores. Of course, then not so authentic lah! Cannot brag that you single-handedly DIY your own ong lai tart. But seriously, it is really not about bragging but homemade pineapple jam has more flavour and less preservatives. Here's the recipe for a good homemade pineapple jam:

Pineapple Jam Recipe (click)

The Pastry

In the past years I have been following this go to recipe that I have with me. However, a couple of weeks ago I was given a box of Taiwanese pineapple tart and I fell totally in love with the pastry. I was motivated to try something similar this year. I took a picture of the ingredients used (see pix) and started my own experiment.

As you can see, the ingredients listed are as follows.
1. Pure Butter
2. Sugar
3. Egg
4. Condensed Milk
5. Milk Powder
6. Evaporated Milk
7. Wheat Flour
8. BP (Baking Powder)
9. Almond Powder (ground almond)
10. Salt

I omitted the evaporated milk but used more full condensed milk instead. The star ingredient in this pastry is the use of ground almond. Now why have I never thought of it. The almond powder really elevates the taste of the whole pastry. And the result? It does not really taste like the one I ate...but wait! It is better! Maybe it is because of the freshness of the pastry. The taste and aroma is so captivating. The pastry is soft and melts in your mouth the moment you bite into it. At the same time, it holds well when you are handling the tart. I am definitely ditching my old recipe for this melt in the mouth version!

I am not going to keep you in suspense any longer. Here's the recipe:

Melt In Mouth Pineapple Tart (enclosed version)

Makes 43 tarts


350 g pineapple jam
170 g butter
50 g condensed milk
20 g sugar
2 egg yolks
210 g all purpose flour
30 g milk powder
30 g almond powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Cooking Instruction

1. Cream butter, condensed milk and sugar together until butter becomes creamy.

2. Add in egg yolk one at a time.

3. Sieve flour, milk powder, almond powder, baking powder and salt together.

4. Add flour mixture into creamed butter. Mix well.

5. Knead into a dough and chill for 1 hour before using.

6. Meanwhile, roll pineapple jam into balls (8 g each).

7. Once rested, divide dough into 12 g each. Roll into a ball and flatten the dough. Put pineapple ball in the centre and wrap dough around the jam (just like wrapping a tang yuen). Shape to your desired shape. I shape it into an oval and then made criss-cross lines to make it look like a pineapple. I then stuck a piece of clove into the top as decoration.

8. Preheat oven to 170C. Brush pineapple tarts with some eggwash. Put tarts into oven and bake for 20 minutes, turning the tray once or twice to get even browning.

9. Remove from oven and cool completely before storing. Enjoy!

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