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Friday, January 02, 2009

Homemade Malaysian Pineapple Tarts, Part 1

Malaysian Pineappple Tarts
I know I've already missed posting this during the pre-Christmas baking frenzy but I just got too busy to actually sit down and write posts. In Malaysia however, we not only bake for Christmas, we actually do MORE of our baking for Chinese New Year. That being the case, I am really NOT TOO LATE to post more cookie recipes at this time of the year. ;-)

Warning

I'm not going to lie. This Malaysian Pineapple Tart recipe is a difficult recipe to make at home. It takes time to make the pineapple jam and then more time to shape each pineapple tart. But trust me, this recipe is worth the effort to make. The end results are so delicious that you'll be wanting to make some more in no time at all.
Because this is the one cookie that I consider worth all the effort, I choose to take the time and effort to do pineapple tarts right. So, I am going to split this pineapple tarts recipe into two posts (maybe even three). Of course, I'll be sharing tips to simplify the preparation along the way.

Let's Get Jammin'

This post will deal with making the pineapple jam for the filling. You will need 4 pineapples for this recipe (the original pineapple tarts recipe called for half-ripe pineapples but they are really hard to come by here in the US so I just cut the sugar instead). When I'm trying to pick the best pineapple, I look at the fruit and make sure that
  • there are no bruises
  • the bottom of the fruit is not moldy
  • it feels heavy for its size and
  • smells fragrant without smelling overripe
a good pineapple

Jammin' Ain't Easy

Now cutting the pineapple can be as difficult or as easy as you want it to be. The easy way does mean losing a bit more of the fruit. Basically, you cut the top and bottom off, stand it up vertically and slice down around the fruit to get rid of the skin (if you find eyes, you've not cut deeply enough). Cut all around until all you're left with is pineapple with no eyes or skin. That's the easy way.
The better, more difficult way, is pictured below. You do roughly the same thing as the easy way but you don't cut as deeply. You will see all the eyes of the pineapple after cutting off the skin.

Cutting the Skin off the Pineapple

Cutting the skin off the pineapple
You then lay the pineapple down horizontally. At a diagonal (the way the eyes run), cut grooves into the pineapple to get rid of the eyes.

Cutting Grooves into the Pineapple to Remove the Eyes

 Cutting Grooves into the Pineapple to Remove the Eyes
(By the way, Martha Stewart suggests using a melon baller to get rid of the eyes. Horrors! A melon baller scoops out so much flesh you might as well just go the easy way! )

Pineapple with the Eyes Removed

Pineapple with the Eyes Removed
Once you've gotten all the skin and eyes out of the pineapple, go ahead and quarter it. Remove the tough middle core of the pineapple (I like to treat it like sugar cane and chew on the pineapple's core while I'm cutting all the rest) then slice them into chunks.

Cutting off the Core of the Pineapple

Cutting off the Core of the Pineapple

Cutting the Pineapple into Chunks

Cutting the Pineapple into Chunks
No need for precision here--you just want to have the pineapple pieces small enough to blend in a blender. (The traditional way would be to grate the pineapple for more texture. I don't mind that blending the pineapples makes the jam more smooth - it still tastes really good!)
I drain the blended pineapple and then throw it into a non-corrosive pan over medium heat. I cook the pineapple jam down for close to 2 hours till it's thick and most of the liquid has been cooked off. It does require frequent stirring so don't leave it unattended for too long.

Cooking Down the Pineapple Jam

Cooking Down the Pineapple Jam
I can't stress the non-corrosive pan enough--the first time I made this recipe, I used my wok to cook down the pineapple. If, like me, you've developed a nice dark sheen of seasoning on your wok, don't even think about using it to make pineapple jam. It's not that my wok couldn't be used but let me tell you, pineapple is super acidic.
After cooking down the pineapple jam, I cleaned my wok. I was super dismayed to find that the pan was silvery shiny like it was brand new. The pineapples had stripped the seasoning right off the wok! After that time, I stick to my stainless steel pans to make pineapple jam.

Pineapple Jam Recipe

Ingredients
4 pineapples, peeled, chopped and blended (or grated if you want to be truly traditional)
2 cups sugar (if near the end of the cook, you find the jam isn't sweet enough for your liking, you may add up to 1 cup more of sugar. I just happen to like mine less sweet)
1 stick cinnamon
3 cloves (the cloves and cinnamon are optional)

Method
1. After cutting and blending the pineapples, place blended pineapples in a colander until half the juices are drained (this will help the jam cook faster). Use juice in other application. (Just don't try to marinate turkey with the pineapple juice--trust me on that!).
2. Place drained pineapples, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves in stainless steel pan and turn heat up to medium.
3. Stir pan every so often. Be careful as the boiling juices are very hot and will pop up unexpectedly as you stir. (I haven't developed asbestos hands so I cover up with gloves and long sleeves when I cook this)
4. Continue to stir till pineapple jam thickens and takes on a golden brown color. Make sure that the jam is pretty dry otherwise it will be hard to assemble the cookie (the pineapple tart recipe I'm sharing is for a closd cookie. If you're making open-faced tarts, then you want it a little bit less dry).

Pineapple Jam Cooking Down (Not Quite There Yet)

Pineapple Jam Cooking Down (Not Quite There Yet)

5. Cool jam and prepare the dough for the cookie part of this recipe.

I normally make the jam a day or two ahead and just leave it in the fridge to cool.
Coming up next: Third Aunt's Amazing Pineapple Tart recipe. It's really simple but oh so good!
Cheers, Annie
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15 Comments:

Penang Tua Pui said...

hmm.... a great and detail recipe of this pineapple tart...

i agree.. this is a tough one....even though i dun know how to make it...

but u really take ur effort to make this posted.

mycookinghut said...

That's exactly how my mom taught me to cut pineapple!
Great details of process!

Beachlover said...

Annie:
I didn't try to make my pineapple jam yet! I just brought a pack of pineapple tart jam back from KL,bought at bakery.hmmmm...now you scare me with the warning! lol!

tigerfish said...

Feeling CNY already :)
Such great details..awesome!

gill gill said...

Awesome. i dont have much passion on making desserts, but i like the pineapple tarts. It takes me more then 20min to just slotter the pineapple myself...haaa, very time consuming.

pigpigscorner said...

I love pineapple tarts! Have yet to try to make some myself though.

Jenster said...

I'd be busy eating the pineapple jam ... not sure there would enough left for the tarts!

Zue Murphy said...

Oh wow!Cutting 4 pineapples to make the jam is very tiresome. But you did a great job. I love pineapple tart.

ICook4Fun said...

This is my fav cookies for CNY. I am going to make some when I go back home.

dolphing said...

I am looking for Pineapple Jam Recipe, thank you very much ^^

Kevin said...

Pineapple jam sounds really good!

Nate-n-Annie said...

@all - thanks for your comments!

@gill gill and @Zue Murphy - it takes practice, but eventually the pineapple skinning gets easier!

@Jenster - heheheh

@ICook4Fun - I'm jealous you get to go home for CNY!

. said...

www.0809angtau.blogspot.com



WONDERFUL POST!! THANKS!!!

Chef Ben said...

Ha! That's exactly how my dad used to cut pineapples in Hawaii with the diagonal slits to get out the eyes. Your photo brought back memories!

Fenella said...

Hi, i admire your blog so much, i a lready tried making your coffee bun and its a best seller to my kids. My first encounter with a melt in your mouth pineapple tart was in this grocer store in Singapore (Eng Bee Cheng?) and i can't wait to try your recipe. Can i substitute canned crushed pineapple instead of fresh? if so, how much sugar now do i only need since canned pineapples are already sweetened. Do i puree it some more even if it is already crushed?