Indonesian-style pineapple tarts for Chinese New Year
In Chineses households it's believed that eating these sweet cookies will bring good fortune as well as sweetness in the upcoming year. Celebrate the Year of Snake with a batch of homemade pineapple tarts.
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150 grams salted butter (2/3 cup, Tante Linda swears by H. J. Wijsman & Zonen Preserved Dutch Butter which she says makes the cookies fragrant and tasty, “wangi dan enak” )Skip to next paragraph
Born in Indonesia and raised in Singapore, Patricia Tanumihardja writes about food, travel, and lifestyle through a multicultural lens and has been published in numerous national and regional publications. Pat is also the creator of the “Asian Ingredients 101” iPhone and Android app, a glossary on-the-go that’s the perfect companion on a trip to the Asian market. Her first book, "The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens," will be available in paperback in September 2012.
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4 egg yolks, plus 1 for glazing
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
600 to 700 grams (5 to 6 cups) all-purpose flour (Tante Linda uses Gold Medal brand)
4 to 5 tablespoons powdered milk (Tante Linda uses Dancow, a brand from Indonesia. I’ve also seen recipes with custard powder, too)
Pineapple filling (recipe below)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and egg yolks. Using a hand mixer, mix on low speed for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture turns fluffy and pale yellow.
Add the powdered milk and mix by hand for another minute or two until well incorporated.
Add the flour gradually into the mixture and mix with your hands until it forms a sticky pastry dough that’s a little drier than cookie dough but not as dry as bread dough. Tante Linda didn’t weigh the flour but kept adding more until the dough felt “right.” She likes hers soft, “empuk” so she used closer to 600 grams (5 cups), but if you’d like a crispier pastry, feel free to use more flour (closer to 700 grams/6 cups).
Pinch a piece of dough and roll it into a ball between your palms about the size of a marble (about 1/2-inch in diameter). Hold the ball in the palm of one hand and use your finger to flatten it into a circular disc 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter.
Scoop about 1/2 teaspoon of pineapple filling (or more!) into the middle of the disc and fold the dough up and around so that the ends meet. Pinch the dough to seal, trying to encase all the filling within. Don’t worry if some filling peeps out. Roll between your palms into an even ball slightly smaller than a golf ball and lay on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat until all the dough and filling are finished. You will need two cookie sheets.
Beat the remaining egg yolk in a small bowl and brush the tops of the cookies with a thick layer of yolk. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until shiny and golden, rotating the cookie sheets halfway for even browning.
Scrape the cookies loose from the cookie sheet while they’re still warm. Cool on a cooling rack or on the sheets.
Tante Linda says that Jambi pineapples are very sweet and don’t require much sugar hence this recipe only calls for 3/4 cup sugar. Taste the mixture halfway and add more sugar if you’d like. Making the filling is quite a tedious process but you can make it up to a week ahead and refrigerate it. Or try using a slow cooker. A friend tried this method out with great success. You can confidently leave it alone to simmer (she said it took about four hours), checking on it only occasionally. You can also add cinnamon sticks or cloves to spice up the filling.
Time: 4 hours
3 ripe pineapples
150 grams (3/4 cup) sugar
Peel the pineapples and dig out the eyes. Cut into chunks or slices, discarding the core, and grate by hand (better) or use a food processor (you won’t get as much texture but it’s a whole lot easier!).
Combine the pineapple and sugar in a large, wide-mouthed pot and cook over a very low flame, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot, for about 2 to 3 hours. Halfway through cooking, taste the pineapple filling and add more sugar if desired.
The filling is ready when all the liquid has evaporated, the color has transformed from bright yellow to dark ochre-almost brown, and has achieved the consistency of a very dense jam.
Let the filling cool completely before making the pineapple cookies or storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for later.
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