Friday, 20 January 2012

for the love of making cookies...

I love baking cookies...but not so much in eating them. Chinese New Year is just about the only time of the year when I actually enjoy both baking and eating them ;)

The first runner up on my cookies-making marathon is none other than these Pineapple Tarts.


I have a love-hate relationship with these Chinese New Year must-haves. Only those who have made them from scratch, all done single-handedly, from cutting the pineapples to washing up, to eventually packed these priceless morsels into containers will fully understand what I mean. Ok, I didn't do every single bit by myself, my not-so-reliable kitchen assistant did stop by to help me with the final touches just minutes before the cookies went into the oven ;)


I was almost half-dead after making the pineapple jam, not forgetting the minor cuts on my fingers as a result of being over zealous when grating the pineapples! It took me about 45mins to an hour to cook the jam. The time taken would have been longer, but I stopped when the jam 'appeared' to be fully dried up. Actually the jam was quite soft...it would be better to continue to cook it longer, but I worried I would burnt the whole pot of jam. I rather work with soft jam than to jeopardise a whole afternoon's hard work!


After spending 2 hours working non-stop, I completed two trays of pineapple tarts, just a mere 40 tangerine style ones and 30 open tarts. I actually suffered from a bad headache after making them...and had to resort to panadol and a medicated rub on my shoulders before I crept into bed that night. If you were to ask me now, I will tell you, No, I am not going to make them again, never! I have already developed a pineapple tarts phobia!


I told my cyberfriend VB, if she ever wants to make these, do make them only for herself, or only give them to someone who has baking experience or at least someone who has made cookies from scratch. I believe they are the ones who are able to appreciate your labour of love. Seriously, when it comes to pineapple tarts, everyone has got their own preferences...some prefers melt in the mouth texture, some prefers the jam fibre to be coarse, not too sweet not too sour...some even asking for pastries that could hold up nicely that doesn't crumble in your hands but only in your mouth, blah, blah, blah. It is too difficult to please each and everyone's taste buds. I don't know about you, I will be very very moody, if I hear the slightest, undesired comments about the pineapple tarts I made...


I am lucky that I found a cake friend, she is the first person whom I have this "相逢恨晚" feelings (loosely translated as...it's a regret that we met each other so late). These pineapple tarts are made especially for her as I suspected she doesn't make them, at least, she has never mentioned it to me.  I have wanted to tell her, only tell me if the pineapple tarts are nice, even if it doesn't suit her taste, I don't mind a white lie ;) But as usual, I forget about it when we started to engage in a hot topic...that is, about our kids' academic studies!


Anyway, I don't know whether it was a white lie, but my friend came back with good comments. It was certainly a pleasure to hear that she was able to mention things like..."there is no buttery aftertaste...did you use Lurpak? and I thought I tasted vanilla, did you add vanilla extract?" Even though I felt sheepish when she mentioned that she tasted some pineapple fibres, but she said it gets to show that everything is homemade from scratch (^^'). I guess for all homebakers, especially self taught ones, these are sincere comments that we treasure, it is through sharing that we would be able to improve our baking skills.

I hope you have also found yourself a cake friend, someone who can share your bakes and experience with each other :)




Pineapple Tarts

Pineapple Jam:
Ingredients:
(yields about 450g jam)

2 half ripened pineapples (use Sarawak pineapples)
250g granulated sugar (use between 200g to 300g, adjust according to taste)
1 cinnamons stick (about 5cm)
4 cloves

Method:

  1. Remove the skin on the pineapples (choose half ripened ones as fully ripened pineapples will be difficult to grate and unripe ones will be too sour). Cut away the 'eyes'. Cut the pineapples (lengthwise) into 4 quarters. Grate the pineapples.
  2. Drain the grated pineapples, press out the juice with the back of a spoon. Reserve the pineapple juice.
  3. Place grated pineapples, cinnamon stick, cloves, and half the amount of sugar in a pot (I used a stainless steel pot with a heavy base). Bring to a boil. Turn to medium heat and let it continue to simmer. Stir occasionally. When the mixture starts to dry up, add in a few tablespoons of the reserved pineapple juice. Continue to let it simmer. Keep adding the pineapple juice as the mixture dries up. Continue till all the pineapple juice is used up.
  4. Add in the remaining sugar gradually (a few tablespoons at a time), and keep stirring as the mixture dries up. Adjust amount of sugar according to taste.
  5. Turn to LOW heat, keep stirring the mixture until the jam caramelised, becomes sticky and dry. Total cooking time is about 1 hour or longer. Leave to cool and place in air tight container and store in fridge. 
  6. When ready, roll pineapple jam into 6g balls (about 1 teaspoon). Store covered in fridge until ready to use. 


Pastry:
Ingredients:
(portion is enough to make 70 tarts)

8oz (227g) Unsalted butter, cut into chunks, soften at room temperature
50g icing sugar
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla extract)
14oz (396g) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt


Method:
  1. Place butter (I used unsalted Lurpak)  in a mixing bowl. Sift over the icing sugar. With an electric mixer, on medium speed, cream butter and icing sugar till the mixture turns pale. Add in salt, whisk to combine.
  2. Add in the vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
  3. Dribble in the egg yolks and continue to whisk the mixture till fully incorporated.
  4. Sift flour into the mixture. Mix the mixture with your hand and lightly knead for a couple of minutes till the flour is incorporated into the dough (do not over work the dough).
  5. Wrap the dough with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for about 30mins. (This will prevent the dough from spreading upon baking, and also makes it easier to handle.)
  6. For Tangerine style: Divide dough into 10g each. Flatten each dough into a small disc and wrap with a pineapple jam. Top with a clove. Place on baking tray lined with parchment paper. (Note: If the jam is too soft, 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. Watch this video to learn the method to wrap the tarts.)
  7. For Open tarts: Roll out a portion of the dough (it is easier to work in smaller portions) between two plastic sheets to about 5~7mm thick. (The plastic sheets help to prevent dough from sticking to the rolling pin and work surface.) Cut out the dough with the tart mould and transfer to baking tray, lined with parchment paper. (To get very clear imprints, place both the outer ring and the inner piece of the mould on the roll out dough. Press the outer ring into the dough then push down the inner piece with some force. Lift up the mould and carefully remove the cut out dough which is stuck to the mould. Dust the mould with flour regularly for easy release.) Place pineapple jam balls on each cut out dough. To decorate, top it with a tiny ball of dough or cut out thin strips of dough and lay over the top of the pineapple paste. (Note: I omit the egg wash for both tangerine style and open tarts.)
  8. Bake in preheated oven at 170 degC for 15 mins. Leave to cool on baking tray for a few minutes before transferring to wire rack. Let cool before storing in air-tight containers.

38 comments:

  1. HHB anything that looks this gorgeous should taste great.Yours looks absolutely yummy.

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  2. I can truly understand going through the whole process of making pineapple tarts. And because of that, I've decided I shall not make pineapple paste anymore! Truly, I found it too be too tedious and laborious. So I can understand it when you get comments like, too sweet, or not sticky enough etc etc. Now I just tell them, it's store bought paste, so don't complain! Hahaah... But I'm fortunate, my family members only like the crust, so that is more important to them than the paste. Heehee...
    Your closed and open pineapple tarts look truly beautiful, and to die for! Your friend is very lucky to have the made-from-the-heart pineapple tarts!

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  3. Happy New Year to you! So true abt the tart requirement and giving to those who know how to bake. I've got a fren who said the tarts are not melt in the mouth which I tried myself and realise it's already "melting". Probably what they din know that those sold outside are laden with some chemicals!

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  4. I totally agree with you.. I had so much different feedbacks about these home made pineapple tarts that whenever I hear some negative feedback, I feel like giving up this hobby entirely. Some like, some don't like, some loves, some hates. It's really so tiring to please everyone's taste buds. I guess only the people who baked these tarts from scratch will know the hard work behind these little tarts.

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  5. Hi HHB

    You make me smile when reading your experiences when making the tarts.I face the same problem too, such a laborious effort.I've resorted to bought pineapple jams for the filling.
    Anyway I gather you spent sometime in Beijing and as such must be familiar with the city. I plan to go there this February and just wondering whether it is easy take the public transport to explore the city on or own. And if I were to take the taxi how is the fare?
    What about the city tours are there easily available?
    TQ

    NC

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  6. Hi HHB,
    The pineapple tarts look so nice...it is labour of love. Thanks for putting up this recipe..I have been looking for one on how to make the pineapple jam, the ready make is either too sweet or too sour..with homemade all these can be controlled... :)
    Emily Koh

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  7. Your pineapple tarts really lovely! The open tarts really need a lot of effort. I guess I don't have so much patient like you.
    Wishing you n your family a very prosperous Lunar New Year. Gong Xi Fat Chai!

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  8. Thanks Happybowl!

    Hi Jane, I hope I am able to bring myself to accept store bought paste now that I have learned how to make homemade ones. Maybe for my kids I can use store bought ones...they eat whatever I make, no complaints ;)

    Elyn, I have learned to give my bakes to only those who will be able to appreciate it, because not everyone thinks highly of homemade cakes and cookies. Happy New Year to you too!

    Joyce, hope you won't give up baking because of those comments, just shut your ears. I totally agree, only those who have made them will be able to appreciate the hard work involved.

    Hi NC, it is very convenient to take the public transport, be it bus or the train. Their train system is just like ours. You can google using Baidu (http://map.baidu.com/) for directions...bus number, train stations, etc. Taking cab is convenient too, and it is much much cheaper compared to the fare here. The only thing is, sometimes you may not get a cab during peak hours, and you need to be able to give the direction...do not expect the drivers to know how to get to your destination unless it is some major attractions. You can drop me an email (happyhomebaking@yahoo.com.sg) if you have any specific questions.

    Emily, I hope to hear from you after you have tried making your homemade jam :)

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  9. hello HHB,

    been reading your posts for quite a few yrs, and I truly enjoy them. just wanted to wish you and your family Happy CNY!

    orangejuice

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  10. Hi HHB

    Here wishing "You and family and blessed CNY" Ur open tarts look so refreshing and beautiful. Due to busy at work, i will use ur recipe after CNY to make make some to enjoy. Thanks for sharing ur recipe.

    Blessings
    Priscilla Poh

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  11. I believe they are the ones who are able to appreciate your labour of love, I totally agree. I feel so mdisheartened when I heard not so positive comments, or compare with outside bought, when you spend so much efforts and time...

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  12. love how neat and pretty your tarts look!

    gong hey fatt choy to you!

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  13. Hi HHB,
    I don't even imagine how these gorgeous pastries taste like... You should be proud of yourself!
    Happy Chinese New Year
    Martina

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  14. I love pineapple tarts all the time, yours look so drooling hehe~~~~

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  15. Should I receive a batch of homemade fm scratch pineapple tarts, never mind if the pastry is melt-in-yr-mouth or not, my heart would hv melted first! Anyway, yours are truly a beauty to behold and a work of art. Needless to say, I am certain they are absolutely delicious. ps. this is not a hint! Pls, pls, pls do not send me any! I mean it.

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  16. As usual, Lots of yummy yummy things here :D
    xxx

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  17. Hi orangejuice, thanks for reading my blog, I am glad to hear that you enjoy reading my blog posts :):)

    Priscilla, I hope you will like this recipe :) The pastry is those melt in mouth type.

    Thanks Janine!

    Martina, these cookies are too fragile, otherwise I would send you a box anytime!

    Thanks Daphne!

    vb, sorry, even if you were to ask for it, I won't even send it over to you. Although from the photos the tarts look very sturdy, the pastry is very fragile, you will end up having to eat with a spoon ;)

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  18. Hi HHB,
    You pineapple tart looks delicious, Wishing You & Family A Very Happy Chinese New Year 2012 & Gong Xi Fa Cai.

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  19. Hi HHB, I love reading your blogs and home made recipes. The tarts looks perfect, anything home bake is the best! Here's to wishing you, your other half and your adorable boys a Happy Chinese New Year!

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  20. Hi HHB, thanks for sharing this recipe! I am currently living in the US, for a year, and found that CNY for me this year came with massive cravings for CNY goodies! Hence I went ahead to bake pineapple tarts using your recipe! A question though... I found the dough extremely hard to handle... it kept cracking! Do you have a clue as to what I could have did wrong? Thanks again!

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  21. Hi HHB
    I understand how you felt, that is why I TOTALLY bake NOTHING this year, to really enjoy new year in another way, sometimes we need to rest and pamper ourselves and maybe eat what others bake. Happy New Year.

    Kium

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  22. Hi HHB
    Tq for the info.and it is nice of you to let me contact you.
    Happy New Year to you and your family!
    NC

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  23. Hi Showers, Sorry to hear that this recipe didn't work well for you. Yes the pastry dough breaks easily, it is difficult to roll, difficult to unmould from the cutter and also difficult to wrap especially if the jam is soft. That's why it is quite a tedious task, it takes lots of patient and some practice to get the hang of it.

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  24. HI HHB,
    your open tarts look beautiful, I like the little flower decoration on top. What tool did you use to make that little flower?
    I tried making my own jam this year after reading your last attempt. It took me so long and only so little jam. But it certainly taste better than the store bought one. Thanks for your post. Happy New Year.

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  25. Hi Ottyen, I used a mini cutter to cut out the flower decoration. It is meant for fondant...got it from Phoon Huat, comes in a set of 3, about $16! I didn't know it is so expensive (no price tag) if not I wouldn't have bought it. It is my most expensive baking tool!

    You should get about 450g of jam for 2 pineapples, maybe the pineapples you bought were very small ones??

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  26. Can you please explain what you mean by half ripped pineapple? Do I rip it in two? How is it an unripped pineapple be sour? Is it because it's not exposed to air?? Seriously, I'm confused!

    Thanks.
    Jer-nie

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  27. Hi Jer-nie, sorry for the confusion, it was a typo error. It should be half ripened. my apologies!

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  28. Hi

    Can I ask where did u get the red cupcake paper from? I tried searching fr Phoon Huat but cldn't find it. Tx

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  29. What is the diameter of the tart cutter that u used? Tx again!

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  30. Hi, i got it from Sun Lik. The size of cutter is about 1.5"

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  31. Dear HHB, Thank a lot lot lot for your recipe!!This is my first time successful in making pineapple tart after so many failed attempt. Would like to seek your kind advice on whether golden churn butter is good? Thanks

    Regards

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  32. Hi glad to know you have succeeded:)
    I am sorry I have not tried golden churn butter (can form), been using Lurpak.

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  33. Hi, may I know which version is easier to make - open face or tangerine type?
    Debby

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  34. Hi Debby, for me, both are equally difficult and time consuming! u may find the wrapping(tangerine type) difficult initially, u will get the hang of it after doing a few. as for the open face, more time consuming. I am going to make these later today :)

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  35. Your tarts look pale. Once i thought these photos were taken before they were baked.

    Sorry if my comments make you feel unhappy~

    Happy Chinese New Year~

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    Replies
    1. Hi, no worries, that's because I didn't brush the cookies with egg wash.

      Delete
  36. I have a question!
    Where in SG did you buy your pineapple molding device? My mom wants me to bring one home for her back in the states, but I don't even know where to look...

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  37. You can get it from Phoon Huat. http://www.phoonhuat.com/

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