Pineapple ‘Open’ Tarts
Ok I finally did it. I made pineapple tarts.
When I was at Fairprice some days ago, I spotted a rack of nice-looking and cheap pineapples, and thought, hey why not? So I lugged four of them home. And I regretted it almost immediately. I couldn’t fathom having to chop up four pineapples, slave over the stove for hours to cook them, and then make the pastry to hold the jam. The very thought made me feel exhausted.
So I didn’t do anything with the pineapples for several days. I just let them sit there. Until last night.
Nothing special happened really. My tau yu bak was simmering on the stove, my husband had gone for a workout, and I was left with an awkward period of time in which to do something or other. So I decided I would make use of those unloved pineapples which, by that time, were extremely ripe, very soft and near impossible to grate. Hoorah. I chose to skip the grating altogether and just chop up the pineapples =)
Oh before I go on, I should mention that the recipe I used for making the pineapple jam and tarts came from Mrs Leong Yee Soo’s “The Best of Singapore Cooking.” (I got the book from Borders a couple of weeks ago at a real bargain!) I wanted to use a recipe from an experienced elderly Aunty =)
Anyway I chopped up the pineapples, removed whatever juice I could, cooked the flesh, and refrigerated it. Then today I made the tart pastry. Again lots of work. But Mrs Leong’s recipe is quite brilliant and the pastry is beautiful. Light, crumbly and delicious. The pineapple jam, however, was very wet and tasted like Western pineapple jam – I think because I didn’t cook it long enough (no fault of the recipe, but of my own impatience). Next year, I am buying pre-made pineapple jam!!
So here you go, Mrs Leong Yee Soo’s recipes for the pineapple filling and tarts, with my comments. (I scaled down the ingredients to make about 70 tarts. The original quantities, which I have below, should yield about 100-120 tarts.)
Coarse sugar (1 cup of sugar -> 1 cup pineapple)
1 piece cinnamon stick (I omitted this)
3 segments of star anise (I omitted this too, but I think you should include it)
1. Remove skin and eye from pineapples.
2. Grate pineapples coarsely. Use muslin to squeeze out juice from pineapples. Do not squeeze too dry. Chop grated pineapples till fine.
As I mentioned earlier, I was too lazy to grate the pineapple, but you really should do before you chop it up.
3. Place chopped pineapples, sugar, cloves, cinnamon and star anise in a heavy-bottomed aluminum saucepan.
Mrs Leong says 1 cup of sugar: 1 cup of pineapple, but I used a lot less sugar than that and the filling was still a little too sweet. I recommend starting with little and adding as you go along if necessary.
4. Cook over moderate heat till almost dry (about 1 hour). Continue cooking over a low heat till mixture is thick. Keep stirring all the while.
Don’t cook it for just an hour like I did! Cook till it truly looks dry. It’s amazing the water content in a teeny bit of pineapple.
5. Cool. Store overnight in refrigerator.
My family really liked the tarts yay =), but my mum suggested that I should cook the pineapple with some five spice powder the next time. A pretty good suggestion me thinks, and if you use five spice powder you can do away with the cloves, cinnamon and star anise. The powder should contain all three.
Pineapple ‘Open’ Tarts
1 tsp fine salt
2 tbsp fine sugar
455g butter (this is a LOT of butter)
55ml iced water
2 tsp vanilla essence
3 drops yellow food coloring (I omitted this)
1 egg yolk with 1 tsp water (for glazing, because I didn’t want to use food coloring)
1. Pre-heat oven to 175degC.
2. Sift flour with salt and sugar.
3. Rub butter into flour till mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Ju had a great tip in her blog post on pineapple tarts, that you should use a fork to stir the butter through the flour. If you absolutely must use your hands, you should use only your fingertips.
4. Beat egg lightly, add to flour. Add iced water, vanilla essence and coloring to form a pastry dough. Chill for 1/2 an hour.
5. In the meantime, roll pineapple filling into little balls. Put back in refrigerator.
6. Roll pastry to 0.5cm thickness on floured board or marble top.
I think it’s better to make the tarts in 2-3 batches, so remove only 1/3 or 1/2 of the pastry from the refrigerator at a time.
7. Cut with special tart cutter and arrange cut pastry on cookie tray. Glaze tarts with a pastry brush.
My tart cutter was just ridiculous! So hard to use. And it gave my tarts little tendrils!! Try to pick one that’s easier to use.
8. Place pineapple filling on pastry.
9. Bake for 15 minutes at 175degC.
10. Reduce heat and bake for another 10-15 minutes till light brown.
Mrs Leong doesn’t specify what the lower temperature should be. I set my oven to 150degC and it worked fine.
11. Cool tarts on wire rack before storing in airtight container.
Pictures of the recipe book, and steps 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7!
The finished product! As you can see, my glazing is not so good. DO NOT use a cheap silicon brush like I did – get a proper pastry brush (the hairy sort!).
*A big shout-out to The Little Teochew, who was my main source of encouragement and inspiration to undertake this venture! Thank you Ju! For those of you who haven’t visited Ju’s blog, you really should. It’s one of my favorites.