Open-face Pineapple Tarts. Photo: Tinoq Russell Goh
By Tinoq Russell Goh
Nothing beats the aroma of freshly baked buttery, melt-in-the-mouth pineapple tarts. Black pepper lends a warm spicy edge to the home-made jam that promises to perk up the palate! For added bite, semolina is added to the pastry.
Total time: 4 hours
Yields: 100 pieces
A: Pineapple Jam
10 medium half-ripened Malaysian pineapples, peeled and eyes removed
300–400g rock sugar
3-4 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
B: Semolina Pastry
500g premium butter, unsalted and cold, cut into cubes
600g plain flour
2 tablespoons semolina
Pinch of fine sea salt
1 large egg — yolk only — lightly beaten
2-3 tablespoons ice cold water, if required
Handful of whole black peppercorns, dry toasted in a shallow saucepan
1. Make pineapple jam a few days ahead. This allows the jam to mellow while it rests and for citrusy flavours to intensify.
2. Cut pineapple into chunks. In a food processor, pulse peeled pineapples (retain core for texture) to a pulp with a grainy texture. For a finer jam texture, pulse a little longer.
3. Transfer pineapple pulp into a large and deep non-stick saucepan. Add cinnamon stick, peppercorns and cloves. Do not strain out the juice. As it cooks, the juice will gradually evaporate and fruit will release rich tropical aromas.
4. Cook pineapple on medium heat until the liquid reduces, stirring occasionally to ensure it does not stick to the base of the pan. It will slowly become a deeper yellow as the pineapple juice evaporates, becoming sticky and jam-like.
5. When half the liquid has evaporated, add rock sugar to taste. Stir till dissolved. Taste jam, adding more sugar if preferred.
6. Stir until jam is fairly dry. Remove from heat and let it cool down. Transfer into containers. Refrigerate until it is ready for use.
7. On baking day, remove whole spices in jam. Using a melon ball scoop, shape jam into balls. Roll jam between your palms until it becomes a perfect ball. Place jam balls on a tray. Cover with cling wrap. Chill until ready to use.
8. Preheat oven to 160°C. Prepare 3-4 baking trays.
9. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, 500g flour, semolina and salt. Set aside remaining flour.
10. Rub butter into mixture using fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Continue mixing with your hands. Add beaten egg yolk. Using your hands, bring it together until a ball of dough forms, adding cold water if required. Don’t overwork the dough as the pastry will be tough when gluten develops.
11. Pop dough into a Ziploc bag. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. This allows the gluten in the flour to relax, rendering a tender, crumbly and melt-in-the-mouth pastry.
12. After 30 minutes, take out half the dough from the fridge. Dust kitchen top with the extra flour that has been set aside. At the same time, dust a rolling pin. Roll dough to 0.5cm thick. Using pineapple mould cutters, cut out pieces of dough. If using traditional moulds, use pincers to pleat pastry, creating a decorative edge.
13. Place pastry cut-outs onto baking trays (no need to line with parchment paper owing to high-fat content in pastry). Pop 1 ball of pineapple jam into the well of each pastry, pressing down gently with the index finger to ensure it stays in place while baking. Shape the jam to create a mound. Use pastry trimmings to cut out little stars to top each tart. Alternatively, dot each ball of jam with a whole toasted peppercorn, if desired.
14. Bake tarts for 20 minutes until light brown. Remove from oven. Transfer them to biscuit racks to cool down.
15. Pineapple tarts taste best while still lukewarm. Savour them with freshly brewed Earl Grey or apple cinnamon tea.
16. When cooled, store tarts in airtight tins.
TIP: Use a stainless steel mixing bowl as it keeps the dough cool which makes it easy to handle. To aerate flour, toss it with your hands before adding it to the butter – this results in lightness in the pastry.
Tinoq Russell Goh is a private dining chef who concocts refreshing interpretations of Asian heritage specialities for his guests.
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