Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Pineapple Tarts (凤梨酥/菠萝酥)

It’s Chinese New Year eve and I promised yesterday to tell you about this tart. I know it has been all about cookies lately around here but I think you wouldn’t want me to talk about this after the festivities having possibly gobbled up a good amount of them yourselves.
chinese new year pineapple tarts recipe

Festive cookie baking was not really on my original agenda. With my mum coming over to Singapore, there’s enough work to be done for a proper preparation – spring cleaning, marketing, shopping, more shopping... you get the idea. However, one month before the New Year colleagues at work began almost daily discussions on reunion dinner menus and various assortments of festive cookies to bake. Three weeks to go and I got to sample some homemade pineapple tarts, almond cookies and arrowroot chips.
With my love to eat these completely-bad-for-you-once-a-year evils and the substandard products people sell out there nowadays, it would be ridiculous for me not to make them myself. Last year I bought some great homemade ones from Bel's Tearoom but this year since we’ll not be going back for the celebration, it’s imminent that the oven will be fired up for some action – time consuming processes be damned.
chinese new year pineapple tarts recipe

I checked out Bee's and Mandy's recipes as a rough guide and later found Lai Kuan’s to be very interesting as I wanted Nastar-style rolls with fibrous grated filling. Ju and Shirley's extremely cute open-faced versions also gave my tart-making spirit a good boost.
chinese new year pineapple tarts recipe

So I hankered down with two weeks to go and started with one recipe worth, making them a tad bigger without weighing the rolls. Half of that went to the office with me and disappeared by 4PM (with more tarts and the recipe demanded), the other half gone the next day. With requests from a few friends and bosses, I stirred another five-pineapples-worth of jam - this time rolling the tarts to size about an inch each, yielding more numbers. After packing the giveaways into gift containers I realized that there wasn't enough left for us so yet another five pineapples came back with me last week along with the ingredients for tonight’s reunion dinner.
The recipe gave me just what I want – a soft, crumbly pillow of melt-in-your-mouth pastry wrapping inside it a fibrous filling. If this is your kind of pineapple tart, go on, knock yourselves out but be prepared to run a few clicks after realizing you ate just one too many. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Gong Xi Fah Chai to all my Chinese readers!
Pineapple Tarts (凤梨酥/菠萝酥)
Adapted from Lai Kuan’s Food4Tots. Head over to the recipe for very useful tips. Handmade Nastar roll instructions from Billy Law’s A Table for Two.
Makes about 90 inch-long tarts
Note: I modified the filling recipe, using rock sugar instead of granulated sugar to make a stickier jam. This will yield a darker filling so if you’re particular about the color of the jam, stick with granulated sugar.

  • 2 half-ripe pineapples, grated
  • 200 grams rock sugar (adjust according to your preference)
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 star anises
  • 1 cinnamon stick (5cm long)
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 250 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 50 grams icing sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 360 grams plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons corn flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon milk/water for the egg wash

Make the filling: Skin pineapples and remove the “eyes”. Cut each pineapple into quarters lengthwise. Grate the pineapple using the special pineapple grater (I use the pointy side of a cheese grater and that works) until it reaches the core (the tough centre). Discard the core.
Drain the grated pineapples with a large sieve. Use a ladle to press the juice out until it is 90% dried up. Retain the pineapple juice for cooking later. Using a wooden spoon, cook the grated and drained pineapples, putting in half portion of the sugar, cloves, cinnamon stick, star anise and lemon juice in a large pot under moderate heat until it begins to boil.
Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. From time to time, add the pineapple juice little bit by little bit when the juice in the mixture is almost evaporated. Repeat this step until all the juice is completely used up for the cooking. Add the remaining sugar bit by bit until the desired sweetness is achieved. This step can be done close to the end of the cooking.
When all the juices are used up and the mixture has started to look dry and caramelized, reduce the heat to low. Keep stirring until the mixture is almost dry and sticky with a golden-hue. This will take about 1 to 1½ hours. Remove cloves and cinnamon stick (I skip this part and remove them while rolling the filling into balls). Set aside to cool and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
Make the pastry: Sift the flours together into a bowl. Cream the butter and icing sugar until light in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. Add in salt and vanilla, beat until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and beat in the sifted ingredients (divided into 2-3 times) and combine well into a firm dough. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
Assemble the tart: Preheat oven to 180°C and center the rack. Prepare two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Roll the pineapple filing by taking 6 grams or about ½ teaspoon heapful of filling and shaping each ball into a small and short elongated roll. If the filling sticks, wet your hands with some water and pat on a tea towel after each 2 to 3 rolls.
Remove the dough from the fridge. Take about 8 grams worth dough and roll it into a ball. Roll the ball into a long strip about 6 to 7 cm long. Press the strip of dough flat into a long rectangle on your palm. Place pineapple filing at the bottom end of the rectangle strip and gently roll up the pastry, like so in a Swiss roll, enough to enclose the jam. Do not overlap the pastry.
Arrange the rolls on the baking tray. Score the tops with the tips of a fork or the back of a small knife across the short end of each roll. Brush each roll with egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Turn the baking sheet 180 ° and continue to bake for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
Leave to cool completely on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container. The tarts keep well up to two weeks (if you’re like us, not a chance) at room temperature.


  1. Ju (The Little Teochew)Feb 2, 2012, 4:44:00 PM

    Beautiful pineapple rolls, beautiful bowls too! A lotta work making these, but they are so worth it, right? Happy New Year to you, Pick Yin!

    Gong Xi Fa Cai!

  2. Same to you Ju, Xin Nian Kuai Le!

  3. I found you through Bee's site and Im loving every minute on your blog. You have some great and authentic recipes here. i'll be visiting often!

  4. This looks just perfect! I've been looking all over for something festive. I'm saving this to my online cookbook now.

  5. awwww i need to go get me some pineapples and make these now! they look perfect! happy new year!


  6. Susan: Gong Xi Fah Chai! Make make make.

    Laura: This is good off the festive season though it's bad news for our waistlines.

    Sukaina: Credits to the recipe owners and developers. I'm yet to develop more of my own recipes!

  7. Gong Hei Fatt Choy! Did you see the news yesterday? 1 pineapple tart contains 180-200 calories!

  8. Gong Hei Fatt Fatt Shirley, during this season we shouldn't count calories, just count the money! :D:D

  9. What beautiful tarts and I heart that bowl.So glad to have found you.You have amazing pictures. Happy CNY to you.These tarts are a great way to celebrate.

  10. Thanks Tanvi, I'm still learning everyday.

  11. Your tarts look gorgeous, serious!! Better than mine. I didn't make any this CNY as I was in a rush to go back to KL. Maybe I should do some this coming school holidays. ;)

  12. LaiKuan: It's time consuming but this year was the first time I celebrate CNY in Singapore so I was very gung-ho to make and bake for friends and colleagues. I'm not sure if next year I will make as many. I still have some leftover dough in the freezer!

  13. Sorry I have been distracted! But those are really cute bowls!!!

  14. Thanks Mrs Ergül, you can get them from Shermay's Baking School.

  15. Hi Pick Yin,

    I need about a four month break away from the "Pineapple Tart Buffet" that is Chinese New Year to get my cravings back for these mini cookies, so looking at these images is making me hope that the eight more months to go speeds up...

  16. Haha Mark, I made a lot of these last year and by the end of it (almost) couldn't stand to look at another pineapple tart. However I know that come CNY I would be making these again and like you said, have a 'buffet'.


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