An annual Chinese New Year tradition in our household. A laborious project but oh so worth it!
Makes approximately 150 tartlets.
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
500g butter, at room temperature
100g milk powder
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 egg white, beaten
A. The pineapple jam. Grate the pineapples to the core; I use the grating option on my food processor nowadays because, in my old age, I value the skin on my fingers more than any old-fashioned ideas about authenticity.
Add the grated pineapple and juice in a saucepan together with the other ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid has evaporated and the pineapple jam is sticky and holds its shape when rolled into a ball, approximately 2 hours. Simmering it in its juice will add to the fruit flavor of the final product.
Roll the pineapple jam into balls approximately the size of a gumball. A little goes a long way here. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until ready to use.
B. The pastry base. For whatever reason, the recipe that I inherited calls for a sort of reverse shortcrust pastry, because it involves adding the flour to the butter and not vice versa, the traditional way.
In a kitchen mixer with the whisk attachment, cream the butter, sugar and milk powder together for 10 minutes. Do not skimp on the time! Add the egg yolks one at a time while whisking to incorporate them.
Rub in the flour gradually in batches, using either your fingers (wear a food glove so that the dough doesn’t get under your nails!) or a dough cutter. Gather up the pastry into 4 large balls. Wrap each dough ball in cling film, flatten and chill in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.
To assemble the tartlets, roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface till approximately 1/4 inch thick. Cut out the dough into 2 inch rounds with a lightly floured mould or cookie cutter.* Brush each round with the beaten egg white. Then gently press a ball of pineapple jam in the middle. Chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Bake at 285 F for 30 minutes.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, if it lasts that long!
* In the old days, people used to make patterns on each tartlet with all sorts of tools to crimp the edges (tweezers, fork, scissors etc). Nowadays, specialty pineapple tart moulds are readily available in Singapore and Malaysia. Please email me if you are interested in purchasing one.