It is that time of the year again where professional & novice bakers alike are busy preparing all manner of festive cookies & snacks in preparation for the coming Chinese New Year.
One of the must-have crowd-pleaser in all the homes is the ubiquitous Pineapple Tart. This golden gem comes in different shapes and sizes, and everyone will have their own favourite.
Although I generally like all of them, I personally prefer the melt-in-mouth type, with a rich buttery pastry with slightly crumbly texture, mingling with jam that’s smooth, sweet with well balanced acidity. That is why the pineapple tart is often known as the Queen Of Tarts.
The pineapple tart is a small, bite-size pastries filled or topped with pineapple jam, and is commonly found throughout different parts of Southeast Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia & Singapore in various forms.
The pineapple tart was thought to have originated from the 16th century when the Portuguese explorers introduced the pineapple, a fruit native to South America, into Asia, specifically the Malay Peninsula. Subsequently the influence by the colonial English with their jams and tarts then led to the creation of the pineapple tarts.
The pastry basically consists of flour, sugar, mixed with a large proportion of butter & egg yolk, giving it a rich, buttery, tender & melt-in-the-mouth texture. The pineapple jam is usually made by slowly reducing and caramelizing grated fresh pineapple that has been mixed with sugar and spices - usually cinnamon, star anise & cloves. Typical shapes includes a flat, open tart topped with pineapple jam under a lattice of pastry, rolls filled with jam that are open at the ends, and jam-filled spheres or elongated shape
The pineapple has a significant meaning in Hokkien dialect, as the word ‘Ong-Lai’ literally means the ‘Fortune Comes’. Hence this pastry is thought to bring prosperity and luck to whoever that consumes them. That is why it is served to guests or given as presents to families, friends and important business partners.
And I’ll let you in on a secret. One of my latest favourite finds is this new Queen on the block named Queens Cookies Empure and their signature Melt-In-Mouth pineapple tarts have made its way up my favourite list. The smell and taste of quality butter, a pastry so soft that it literally melts in your mouth the moment you bite into it, the heady home made jam mix, the sheer memory of it is already making me salivate.
So if you are looking to get some good old home made pineapple tarts, try the ones from Queens and you will understand why this delectable pastry queens over all the other cookies during the Chinese New Year festivities.