Happy Lunar New Year! In Malaysia and Singapore, these Pineapple Tarts (Kueh Tart, Kuih Tart, Kueh Tat, Nastar) are a popular treat. This recipe came incredibly close to becoming a blooper for the next New Year’s post. My original intention was to halve the recipe since I didn’t need a lot of cookies for our small family. When I was mixing the dough, I added the full two egg yolks instead of the 1 I needed. I went back to double the rest of the ingredients, but forgot to double the butter. My dough kept falling apart and it took me a few minutes to figure out why. Making the pineapple jam also takes a bit of time. After over an hour of nearly continuous stirring, I kept thinking I did something wrong until it finally came together.
It was all worth it. These little Pineapple Tarts are buttery, crumbly, and have just the perfect amount of sweetness from the pineapple jam.
As the pineapple jam thickens, stir it often to keep the bottom from burning. As you add the sugar, taste the mixture to see how much you need to add. I only added about 3/4 cup of the sugar. It will depend on the sweetness of your pineapple. The pineapples used should be ripe, but not overripe. This particular pineapple jam is simply sweetened pineapple, but it is also common to add cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg.
I didn’t finish making the cookies the first day, so I refrigerated the extra dough and jam for the next morning. If you do this, let the dough come to room temperature. It cracks more easily when chilled.
I decided to make three different shapes. The “open” pineapple tarts were my favorite. I made a circle of dough and since I didn’t have any special stamps or tools, I used a toothpick to decorate the sides. I topped the circle with a ball of pineapple jam and covered it with two strips of dough.
The second shape is an enclosed version. I flattened a ball of dough and added a smaller ball of pineapple jam. I gently enclosed it and smoothed the exterior. On the top of the ball, I used a paring knife to create a criss cross pattern (to look like the outside of a pineapple). It is also common to make this enclosed tart in the shape of a rectangle.
Another popular shape (Nastar Rolls) involves wrapping the dough around the pineapple jam. I didn’t have the special mold to make the stripes on the dough, so I used my gnocchi board. You can also use a large fork. Flatten the ball of dough into a thin rectangle. Place a strip of pineapple jam in the center of the rectangle and gently wrap the dough around the jam. Place seam side down.
Kueh Tart (Malaysian Pineapple Tarts)
Adapted from Nasi Lemak Lover
80-100 small cookies
1.5 kg (3.3 pounds)pineapple flesh (~2)
250 grams (~1 1/4 cups) turbinado or coarse cane sugar
350 grams (~1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter
100 grams (5 tablespoons) sweetened, condensed milk
2 egg yolks
510 grams (~3 3/4 cups) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon milk
To make the pineapple jam: Cut and core the pineapple. Cut the remaining flesh into cubes and process in a food processor without adding water or grate. Transfer to a large wok or wide pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has been reduced and the pineapple begins to thicken. Stir in the sugar to taste. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring often, until thick enough to hold the shape of a ball and darkened, about 1 hour. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and condensed milk until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. Mix in the flour and salt until dough comes together. If needed, knead until soft and smooth.
Preheat oven to 330 degrees F (165 C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment or lightly grease.
Break off about a tablespoon size of dough (10 grams) and form into desired shape (shapes shown above). Fill with about 1 teaspoon to 1/2 tablespoon pineapple jam, depending on shape. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and jam. Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake in preheated oven until golden, about 23 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in airtight container for up to a week.