About a couple of weeks ago, I had lost my mind when I decided to make pineapple tarts when it’s not even Chinese New Year. It’s not that they are only eaten during Chinese New Year but I typically reserved making them for special occasions because holy moly, they are so tedious and time-consuming to make! As you can see, they are not really tarts but small, delectable, buttery cookies filled with homemade pineapple jam that has been cooked down to its essence. I made the jam on a Sunday and it took a total of three and a half hours of cooking. The next day, after work, I portioned the jam, made the dough, put them together, and baked – the entire process took six hours (for only 67 pieces of cookies) and that did not include clean-up time. The next morning, when I opened the container of pineapple tarts, I declared to my husband with amazement that I just took a whiff of Chinese New Year and he laughed and responded, “You bottled Chinese New Year!” It was worth it after all!
Homemade pineapple jam/filling:
2 large pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into small chunks (had approximately 1800g or 4 pounds pineapple after peeling and coring)
250g sugar (adjust to your taste but this is sweet enough for me)
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
Process pineapple chunks in a food processor (in batches) until they have a consistency of a coarse purée. Combine pineapple purée, sugar, cinnamon stick, and cloves in a large Dutch oven and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until pineapple “jam” is thick, caramelized, and malleable (it took me about 3-1/2 hours of cooking in mostly medium-low heat to get to this stage), again stirring constantly. Discard cinnamon stick and cloves and transfer jam to a container to cool. This batch produced about 750g pineapple jam. Once cooled, measure out jam (1/2 level tablespoon) and roll it into a ball (I pre-measured and pre-rolled all the jam). Refrigerate until needed.
Pineapple tart dough:
This is the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth pineapple tart pastry I’ve ever tried. The recipe for the dough was originally shared by Sonia of the Nasi Lemak Lover blog. I typically prepare one and a half times of the original recipe to ensure there is enough dough for all the pineapple jam, and that’s the measurements I am listing here. I often have leftover dough and will just make thumbprint cookies with store-bought jam.
525g salted butter, room temperature
150g sweetened condensed milk
3 large egg yolks
765g unbleached all purpose flour
2 large egg yolks plus 2 teaspoons whole milk (for the egg wash)
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and condensed milk until light. Add egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until combined. Finally, add flour, and mix until it forms a soft dough. Measure out dough (1 level tablespoon) and roll it into a ball (I pre-measured and pre-rolled all the dough first before moving on to the next step).
Flatten a ball of dough and place a ball of pineapple filling in the middle. Bring the edges of the dough together and press lightly to seal. Roll it in between your palms to shape it into a ball again. Use the back of a knife to score the top of dough with a criss-cross pattern to imitate the look of a pineapple. Apply egg wash on top of dough. Bake in preheated oven of 325F for 25 to 28 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely, then store cookies in an airtight container.
To make the thumbprint cookies, use the rounded bottom of a tablespoon (measuring spoon) to make an indentation in each pre-rolled ball of dough. Spoon a little jam into each indentation. Bake at 325F for 25 to 28 minutes.
This time, I made a total of 67 pineapple tarts and 18 thumbprint cookies.