Wednesday, 10 February 2010

It's the time of the year...

I thought I would not be baking any cookies for this coming lunar new year. There is just so much work involved. I only enjoy 'making' the cookies but not the cleaning up. Since no one ever expects me to bake anything for them, I thought I would give this annual baking ritual a miss this year. To my surprise, two weeks ago, my niece asked me when I am going to start my Chinese near year baking. She missed those horlicks doggies cookies, and won't mind if I make her some butter cookies too. Then, my younger child reminded me that he is the only person who gets to glaze those those peanut cookies with egg wash. And so, I started baking some horlicks cookies, and a batch of peanut cookies. Very soon I found myself slogging away again...wrapping tiny pieces of dough with pineapple jam in my kitchen!


This is my second year into baking these pineapple tarts, and I am proud to announce that this time I made them with homemade pineapple jam :D

I told myself if I were to make pineapple tarts again I will really have to cook the jam from scratch. The comment I got from my siblings last year was that even though the pastry was very close to what our mother used to make, the store-bought jam just couldn't replace homemade ones, which they feel has got more 'bite'.

I was terrified at the thought of cooking the pineapple jam for hours over the stove, even cutting and slicing the pineapple was a great hurdle that I wasn't quite ready to overcome. So I bought One ready-cut pineapple...with skin and eyes all removed to try ;)

Once I got home with the pineapple, I cut it into slices, grated and drained most of the juice away (it went into my stomach!). According to my family recipe, the pineapples are to be cooked with just some rock sugar and caster sugar. Most recipes I came across would recommend cooking it with cinnamon. I doubt my children would like the flavour so I stick to just sugar. However, in order to give the jam a nice golden hue, I used a mixture of brown and white sugar. If only white sugar is used, the colour would be too light, giving the impression that the jam is sour. To my great surprise, cooking the jam was not that tedious after all! Maybe it was because of the small quantity, I spent only about 45mins to cook the jam before it dried up and became sticky.


These golden gems are truly labour of love!

After my successful attempt at making my first batch of jam, I bought another two pineapples to make another batch. This time I really did it from scratch! No more cheating by using ready-cut fruits. I spent quite sometime trying to slice away the numerous eyes on the pineapples. Then it was another daunting task grating the pineapples. In the process, I grated not just the pineapples but also my fingers too!


I made tangerine-style pineapple tarts (my favourite!) and also tried shaping them into pillows. I wasn't quite sure how to go about it, so I simply rolled them in between my hands. The resulting tarts look more like cocoon than pillows! I then realised it was due to the shape of my palms and fingers. So I tried rolling it on my table and it worked! I went back to the same pineapple tart recipe but this time, I added in 30g of icing sugar. The original recipe has got no sugar in it, and I had a hard time judging whether the tarts were done. The pastry just wouldn't brown and I kept extending the baking time as I thought my unreliable oven was playing tricks on me again. Well, even with this extra sugar, the tarts didn't brown that much either :(

Feeling a bit more adventurous after having gained the confidence of making homemade pineapple jam, I ventured into something even more challenging...


...making Nastar rolls. With a cookie press, the dough is piped into a strip before wrapping it with the pineapple filling. I tried piping the dough on the table but the strip kept breaking. Fortunately I found a way that worked well for me...I piped the strip of dough directly onto my palm, place a pre-rolled pineapple gem on it and roll it over. I don't know whether it is the cookie press or the dough, the resulting nastar rolls look like sotong (squid)!!


The pastry was so fragile that I gave up glazing the rolls with egg wash. Even though these nastar rolls are not quite close to what they should be, it was certainly a good experience shaping them.


Once you sink your teeth into one of these golden morsels, the buttery pastry will crumble away in your mouth before hitting the soft, moist and delicious pineapple filling. They are so delicious that I have to keep a close guard on them otherwise they would be all gone before the new year eve!



Note:
* Hop over here for the tart pastry recipe. I added 30g icing sugar for this latest batch.
* Pineapple jam - I cooked 2 pineapples (grated and drained) with 150g brown sugar and 150g caster sugar (adjust sugar amount according to taste and sweetness of the pineapples). Add sugar only when most of the moisture has evaporated. Once sugar is added, keep stiring constantly to prevent burning. It takes about 30-45 mins on medium to low heat before the jam becomes dry and sticky. Leave to cool before storing in fridge. Roll into small balls.
* For closed type of tarts, I use half a tablespoon of pastry dough and 1 teaspoon of pineapple jam. Watch this video to learn the method to wrap the tarts.
* If the jam is too soft (under cooked), it will be difficult to wrap. To overcome this problem, freeze the rolled jam balls in the freezer for about 30mins (or longer) before wrapping.

25 comments:

  1. I missed your post, and actually just drop a note to you to try the nastar tarts out..keke. Nice looking pineapple tarts, including the 'squids'. It's so satisfying to bake pineapple tarts from scratch, right?

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  2. These tarts look delicious! I never liked pineapple tarts actually, but yours are really tempting!

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  3. My dear, i am so very proud of u :) and completely impressed! These pineapple tarts r awesome n certainly done by a professional baker :)))
    Pls take a photo of the nastar mould you used n show it on your blog so that i know which one to buy. thks n once again "Well Done, you overcame your initial hesitation. I know you can do it"
    May

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  4. Pineapple tarts are the one thing I can never get enough of during Chinese New Year. You did such a great job with them, HHB- I can imagine how fantastic they'll taste.

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  5. Excellent work!

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  6. Hi, HHH, Your tarts look great and delicious !!At last you made your homemade pineapple jam ! You even grated the pineapples ? Oh , for me cutting and slicing are okay, but grating them is so tiresome.....,I always use blender to overcome this. According to my cousin, the longer you cook the browner the jam will be. She told me that her jam keep inside the freezer could last for 2 to 3 years !

    Ha! Ha! What a coincidence, me too, made 3 different types of pineapple tarts two days ago !

    Wishing you and your family a very Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year !新年快乐!身体健康!万事顺意!

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  7. Hi quizzine, you have actually inspired me to make the nastar tarts, but mine did not turn out as good as yours :'(

    Hi Allie, in the past, I didn't care too much for pineapple tarts too! but ever since I started baking them, I fell in love with them, maybe I can appreciate them more due to the amount of work involved in making them :)

    Hi May, nah, I am no where near a professional baker! I bought the plastic cookie press from Phoon Huat.

    thecoffeesnob, Nagina, thanks for your kind comments :D

    Hi PY, yes I grate the pineapples, I don't have a blender at home. If the jam is cooked with enough sugar it should keep well in the fridge. That is why the jam is cooked with so much sugar otherwise we can't keep the tarts in room temperature for so many days. Your pineapple tarts look so good! 我真是献丑了!!!

    顺祝新春佳节愉快!

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  8. I love your nastar rolls. So pretty! And it must be the most time-consuming ones to make. That's why I've never tried it. Your homemade jam looks great too. I can never do the cutting and grating because I will surely cut myself with my clumsy hands. :)

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  9. Hi HHB

    I have been waiting for this post for the longest time this year!! You are the one who inspire me to bake CNY cookies - I tried Peanut cookies & Holick doggies cookies last year. Unfortunately this year my boys are in P1 and we hardly hv time to bake.
    Happy New Year to you & your family!

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  10. Your pineapple roll look nice and melt-in-mouth type, Wishing you a Happy CNY.

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  11. I don't think I'll ever make the nastar pineapple rolls, it's too much effort. I like the way you present your tarts.

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  12. nice! Your nastars look great! =D I wanna try making them too!!

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  13. Wow! all your tarts look so pretty and mouth-watering! How I wish to be your next-door neighbour! :)

    Wishing you a "Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year"! 新年快乐,万事如意,虎年行好运!

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  14. All the 3 types of pineapple tarts look tempting.....I like all of them.

    Wishing you and your family a Happy Tiger Year!!

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  15. everything looks delicious.

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  16. Hi HHB,
    Wonderful pineapple tarts you've there! I like all the patterns. Wishing you have a joyful chinese new year :)

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  17. Happy New Year HHB! Yours is the only site where I can the complete collection of pineapple tarts together. All very well made, all very pretty!

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  18. Hey,since you make cookies too I would like to know if you do know how to make marmar carries cookies as I have been trying to find the perfect recipe and method to do it.I hope you do.Been foolowing your blog for recipes and you're truly amazing.
    Btw,Hapy Chinese New Year!

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  19. Hi Anonymous, I am sorry I have not eaten marmar carries cookies, it is something new to me :)

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  20. hey HHB!

    i tried out your pineapple tart recipe (made them into little balls of roses. pop over my blog if you got time!) and gotta say this is indeed buttery! very good, melt in mouth and i love my skin slightly on the salty side. definitely will make this for my family again next year.

    here's wishing you a happy and blessed year ahead!

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  21. Hi HBB,

    You can just buy the ready cut pineapple from market fruit stall to save the time from removing the skin.....to me making the paste from scratch is the process of grating the fruit and cook it, whether its with or without outer skin its doesnt matter.

    Jennifer

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  22. Hi HBB,

    You can really bake very well and it looks so good and tasty. I have saw that the containers that you put the cookies are very nice too. I am looking for something like that but could not find any. Can you advise where can I get it? Thanks a lot.

    Joycelyn

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  23. Hi Joycelyn, those are 'unwanted' containers that I have collected over the years ;p The 'orange' ones you see in the pictures are actually from BreadTalk's CNY cookies last year, my siblings passed them to me, they know I love to collect containers (^=^''')

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  24. Hi,
    Ur tarts looks so yummy!! May I know how long can they be kept in airtight containers?

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  25. Hi, you can keep them for 2 to 3 weeks in airtight containers.

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