Not really known outside of Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, Pineapple Tarts are the personification of the festive cookie in Singapore and Malaysia. Whether it’s Christmas, Eid, Diwali or Chinese New Year (all major festivals), these delectable morsels triumph all others, a festive sweet tray isn’t complete without the pineapple tart gracing it.
My recipe is my late granny’s, I might have tweaked the ratio ever so slightly but it still remains true to the one we used as kids, right down to the way I mix everything up. My shortcrust dough is just slightly lighter, almost crumbly, which gives the cookie an almost melt in the mouth texture, the way I like it.
The cookies are filled with homemade pineapple jam which is simplicity itself. You need special cutters for these (only available in said countries), ones that cut the pastry while making an indentation for the jam filling at the same time. These days, the cutters have grooves that will create a pattern on the cookies but when we were young, we used to have to make these patterns using miniature crimping tongs. Imagine making 1 000 little tarts, cutting them, filling them and then crimping them! Definite division of labour – my older brother used to roll out the dough and cut, my two younger siblings and I filled and my older sister crimped! Of course, as we grew older, our responsibilities changed – oh, those were the days!
As we got older, our pineapple tarts had a reputation all of their own – my granny would receive orders by the thousands! And it followed us everywhere we went, once someone tasted our tarts, there was no turning back, every year until I left Singapore for the UK, I’d get asked for “a favour”! Paid favours of course, but by the dozens!
Use a sheet of plastic or cling film to roll out the dough. This will not only stop the dough from sticking to your rolling pin but it will also create a smoother dough. The cling film will lose its sticky feel very quickly as you use it.
Dip the cutter into the flour, shake off excess, then cut, after every 2-3 cuts! Trust me or it’ll stick!
Making Pineapple Tarts without the specialist cutters
Of course, you can always make these in the shape of ordinary jam cookies, or thumbprint cookies.
In fact, it has been quite fashionable for quite a while to make pineapple tarts into tiny rolls, very popular and traditional in Indonesia. But let’s face it, these are much prettier!
Let’s look at some pics and head on down to the recipe!
- 700 g (1.5 lb) plain flour, sifted
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tbsp condensed milk, at room temperature
- 400 - 500 g (14 - 17.5 oz) salted butter
- 1 portion pineapple jam
- a bowl with extra plain flour for dusting, etc
- Whisk the egg and condensed milk with a wooden spoon until combined.
- Add the butter and mix in as much as is possible. Despite the picture above, you will most likely not get a smooth mix, and that's perfectly fine. The only way to get it smooth is with an electric mixer which we are not using here, as you will end up with a dough that's way too soft.
- Add the sifted flour and mix it in by using cutting motions with your spoon, i.e., north-south, east-west.
- Now, using your fingers, bring it all together lightly, do not knead.
- Wrap in cling film and place in fridge for 10 minutes, no longer as the dough will be too brittle.
- Preheat oven to 160˚C/310˚F.
- On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a depth of about 2-3mm and cut out shapes (dip in flour!) and place on cookie sheet. Remember to place cling film on the dough before rolling.
- Fill with jam and place in fridge for 10 minutes. I find that this step allows the cookie to retain its pattern better.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until a light golden colour, not brown.
- When cool, store in an airtight container at room temperature, they will keep for 2-3 weeks easily, that is, if they don't get eaten up!