Do you have any idea how long I've been waiting to make these? Years. YEARS.
Every time I come back from Malaysia I vow to make these, and last year I actually got round to buying the tart moulds. I vowed to make these as my first recipe post on my return from Malaysia, Singapore and Japan last month... but then my inspiration from Japan won over (as you have seen). I go to Malaysia every year to visit my family and make Malay/Nyonya food all the time, whereas it was my first time in Japan: of course I'd be inspired. Sorry, pineapple tarts! I've finally gotten around to making you.
Pineapple tarts can be expensive to buy, and now I know why. It took me a whole hour of jam-stirring (not a euphemism) to make pineapple jam for just 28 tarts, simmering what was essentially a thin pineapple smoothie into a thick paste. Then the pastry was a pain in the arse: in order to make it melt-in-the-mouth, I added cornflour and custard powder (the latter also for richness because I didn't want to use egg yolk for this recipe), resulting in a delicate pastry because of the reduced gluten content. As it was an unusually warm day, I had to keep returning the pastry to the freezer to let it chill and firm up between batches as I was baking. Still, it was worth the end result. The leftover jam-less pastry also made nice biscuits by themselves, too.
I did take a picture of the pineapple jam before it jam-ified, but unfortunately the file got corrupted. It was nothing spectacular anyway: it literally just looked like a huge pan of pineapple smoothie with a cinnamon stick and pandan leaf floating in it.
By the way, the jam takes HOURS to cool down, and then needs about an hour to chill in the fridge before you can roll it into balls. It's definitely a good idea to make it the day before you make the tarts themselves. To be honest it's a good idea anyway because the royal icing leaves will also take hours to dry, if you decide to make them too.
Ready? Let's go.
(Makes 25–30 tarts, depending on size of pineapples/your moulds).
For the Royal Icing:
1 small egg white
150g icing sugar
Pandan paste (you can just use green food colouring paste)
For the Jam:
2 medium-sized pineapples, peeled, cored and puréed
200g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 pandan leaf
For the Pastry:
125g cold butter, cubed
175g plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp custard powder
25g icing sugar
1 egg, beaten (to glaze)
1) In a large deep pan, simmer all the ingredients together on a low heat. When it reduces by half, remove the cinnamon stick and pandan leaf, and stir continuously with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stop it from sticking. Stir until you have a really thick, relatively dry paste (the colour will have gone from straw yellow to sunset orange).
2) Scoop into a shallow dish and let cool completely before popping in the fridge for an hour (this will take several hours in total: I left the jam to cool on the kitchen counter overnight).
3) To make the royal icing leaves, whisk the ingredients together until stiff and fluffy, and pipe little leaves on a baking paper-lined tray. Leave to dry overnight.
4) Take teaspoon-sized portions of your jam and roll them into balls using oiled hands.
5) Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a couple of baking sheets with non stick baking parchment.
6) Make the pastry by rubbing all the ingredients (apart from the egg) together with your fingertips, switching to a light kneading motion to make the dough come together.
7) Roll the dough out until it's about 1cm thick, and cut out your pastry shapes. Place them about 2cm apart on the lined baking tray and pop a pineapple jam ball in the centre. (If the pastry becomes soft as you work with it, pop it in the freezer for five minutes to firm back up again).
8) Brush beaten egg lightly over the tops and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
9) Cool on a wire rack before sticking the leaves in and eating, or you'll melt the leaves and your face off with the red-hot jam.
10) Try not to eat five in one go.
That's it. Well I say that's it, I mean that's the end of your labour of love. The icing leaves are totally not necessary, but they do look uber-cute, no?
Have fun, and enjoy!