Pineapple Tarts for Lunar New Year!

Chinese Pineapple Tarts

Dear Reader it's pineapple tart time! These melt in the mouth buttery tarts with a delicious sweet pineapple filling are a favourite for Lunar New Year. If you love melt in the mouth jam cookies then you will adore these. I also have a couple of secret ingredients to make them totally moreish. These are a pushy recipe Dear Reader!

Pineapple tart or pineapple cookie? They're a bit of both really! Pineapple tarts can be enclosed and round, square or rectangular where the pineapple filling is hidden inside. Or they can be open tarts too. The key to a great pineapple tart is the buttery flavour and melt in the mouth texture of the pastry plus the sweetness of the pineapple jam.

The golden pineapple signifies fortune and these are a great gift for people as they keep at room temperature for a week or so. Pineapple tarts are often sold in plastic containers stacked upon each other.

In this case I tried to keep them to a classic pineapple tart but added a few things to make them even better like real vanilla, coconut and parmesan cheese (yes!!). I promise that these pineapple and coconut tarts might have you rethinking pineapple tarts! They were so good that I even considered holding back the recipe so that I might make them for a business! And here are 8 tips for making the best pineapple tarts. The number 8 is good luck in Chinese culture too.

Chinese Pineapple Tarts

8 Lucky Tips for making Pineapple Tarts (see what I did there? ;) )

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1 - The pastry in pineapple tarts either contains no sugar or very little sugar. The sweetness mainly comes from the jam itself which is very sweet and cooked down. I added one of my favourite ingredients to pineapple tart pastry...parmesan cheese! You sometimes see parmesan added to doughs to add a little saltiness and richness.

2 - You need the jam to be cooked down so that there isn't any moisture in it as it needs to be solid enough to be able to be rolled into balls.

3 - Make the jam in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Heavy bottomed saucepans are handy for jam making as you want to regulate the temperature and you don't want the jam to burn as it contains lots of sugar. You don't need to make a special purchase to find a heavy bottomed pot - just avoid using the very cheap, light non stick pots that you might find at the supermarket.

4 - You can make the pineapple jam filling with either fresh or tinned pineapple. I used tinned pineapple in syrup which worked really well and saved a bit of time as I was very busy that week. I made it a few days before the rest of the tarts and kept the jam in the fridge.

5- Moisten your hands a little when you roll the jam into balls. It helps to avoid sticking.

6 - I added a bit of extra flavour by adding some desiccated coconut into my pineapple jam and I loved this addition! I definitely hope that you will give this a go!

7 - The pastry recipe below is for 18 tarts. However the pineapple jam makes more than this so keep it in the fridge for when you want to make a fresh batch.

8 - Store pineapple tarts in an airtight container for a week (or even more if you don't eat them in the meantime!). They are VERY moreish!

Chinese Pineapple Tarts

I was recently at lunch when a lady that I know from a tourism body was talking about me. Apparently she was saying that I would send her random questions, often without context. Once when I was in Thailand I sent her a picture of a pineapple. It was a very small pineapple and I was asking her about it because it was so delicious and so very tiny. But I was of course caught up in my own world so I just sent her a picture of a pineapple without scale and asked her, "What is this called?"

To which she answered "A pineapple?"

I didn't realise how random I was with the questions until she pointed it out. I mean I could see that it was a tiny pineapple but without anything around it, it looked basically like any sort of pineapple. So now I am careful to give context now because while she took it with good humour, I can imagine how some might just think I'm crazy!

So tell me Dear Reader, do you sometimes just start talking about something assuming that people know what you're talking about? Have you ever tried pineapple tarts?

Chinese Pineapple Tarts

Pineapple Tarts for Chinese New Year

An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 30 minutes plus 30 minutes refrigeration time

Cooking time: 20 minutes for jam, 22 minutes per batch of tarts

Makes 18 tarts (with some jam left over)

Pineapple & Coconut Jam

  • 370g/13ozs. pineapple (fresh or tinned, fruit only)
  • 1 cup/250g/8.8ozs white sugar
  • 1/3 cup/60ml/2flozs water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 cup/45g/1.6ozs. desiccated coconut

For the dough

  • 115g/1 stick butter, softened
  • 30g/1oz sweetened condensed milk (I use condensed milk in a tube so I don't have to use up a whole tin)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 155g/5.5ozs. plain all purpose flour
  • 20g/1 tablespoon cornflour/fine cornstarch
  • 20g/4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons/16g icing or powdered sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • Beaten egg to glaze

Chinese Pineapple Tarts

Step 1 - First make the pineapple jam as it needs to cool. Place the pineapple pieces in a food processor and blend until crushed. Place in a heavy bottomed saucepan and add the sugar and water. Simmer on medium heat until the moisture evaporates and the pineapple starts to turn a golden bronze shade (about 10-15 minutes or so).

Chinese Pineapple Tarts

Step 2 - Then add the vanilla and coconut and allow this to cook and become fragrant and stir so that the jam becomes dry and golden in texture (see picture). Remove from heat and cool and place in a jar and refrigerate until needed. The jam should be dry with no liquid and set firm once chilled.

Chinese Pineapple Tarts

Step 3 - Make the dough. Place the butter and condensed milk in a mixer bowl fitted with a beater attachment. Beat for 3 minutes on medium speed until very smooth. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 30 seconds. In a jug or bowl whisk the two flours, cheese, sugar and salt together. Add this dry mixture in on the lowest speed and mix until just incorporated (do not overmix). The dough should not be sticky and should be easy to work with. If it is sticky add a little more plain flour. Separate the dough into two lots and cover one lot with cling film while you roll out the first lot of pastry. You don't need to rest the dough before you work with it.

Chinese Pineapple Tarts

Chinese Pineapple Tarts

Step 4 - Line two trays with parchment. Pinch off around 22grams/0.8oz. of the dough. I know it's very precise but I like things to be the same size so that they bake evenly so I eyeball it carefully or weigh it to be super precise. Repeat with the rest of the first lot of dough. Then pinch off 13g/0.4oz portions of pineapple jam and roll into balls. If your palms get too sticky when rolling the jam into balls, then moisten them a little.

Chinese Pineapple Tarts

Step 5 - Flatten the dough in the palm of your hand and then place the pineapple jam ball in the centre and roll up the dough to enclose it. Roll it into a ball and place on the tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough and jam. Then using a butter knife or a pastry scraper make diamond criss cross patterns on the top of the balls.

Chinese Pineapple Tarts
Criss cross pineapple patterns

Step 6 - Brush the tops of the pastry with beaten egg and then repeat with the next tray and place the trays in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 160C/320F. Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes. Cool and then store pineapple tarts in an airtight container for a week. I also like these gently warmed in the oven - 50C/122F for 10 minutes will do quite nicely. These are best served with coffee or tea although I will say that they are highly addictive so you can't stop at just one!

Chinese Pineapple Tarts

Chinese Pineapple Tarts

Chinese Pineapple Tarts

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