Sunday, August 17, 2014

Taiwanese pineapple tarts (鳳梨酥)

If you ever get a chance to go to Taiwan, you absolutely need to visit a pastry store. I've tried recreating some of my favorite Taiwanese pastries here, here, here and here. In addition to a regular pastry store, you must visit a store that sells pineapple tarts (鳳梨酥). And yes, there are entire stores that only make pineapple tarts, and they are well worth a visit.

Pineapple tarts are essentially little rectangular shortbreads that are filled with a sweet pineapple jam. The tarts are soft and chewy and almost have the same texture as a Fig Newton. They are slightly thicker than Fig Newtons and are closed up, so you aren't able to see the filling.

On a trip to Taiwan last fall, my dad and I were strolling around the streets of Taipei and saw a pineapple tart store. Although we were both stuffed to the gills from a wonderful lunch just minutes prior, our tummies told us to go into the store and buy some pineapple tarts. We each bought one and devoured them very quickly. After we walked away, I regretted not buying an entire box of these to take home with to the United States and ended up buying a(n inferior) box at the airport instead.

I have to be honest and admit that these pineapple tarts were one of the most frustrating things I've made recently. The filling took 2 hours to reduce out the liquid, and the shortbread didn't want to pinch together as I was assembling them. As a result, my tarts were big, ugly, and a pain to create. They were flaky, buttery, and tasted pretty good, but I'm not sure I'll be making these again unless I find another recipe that works better.

These pineapple tarts are my contribution to this month's What's Baking, which is being hosted by Ali of Sparks from the Kitchen. She chose the theme, Bake Your Heritage, for the month of August. Be sure to visit Ali's blog for a round-up of what everyone else baked to represent their roots!

Taiwanese pineapple tarts (鳳梨酥)
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 TBSP powdered sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg yolk + 1/2 TBSP condensed milk (lightly beaten for egg wash)
Pineapple filling
  • 3 cans (20 oz each) sliced pineapples or 2 fresh pineapples
  • 10 TBSP or a heaping 1/2 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole cloves (optional)
Directions
Make the filling: Drain the pineapple slices and use your hands to squeeze out the extra liquid. Discard liquid and blend in a blender for about 10 seconds until they are mushy.

If you are using fresh pineapples, core and peel the pineapples, cut into chunks and blend for 10 seconds.

Transfer the blended pineapple into a non-stick high-sided saucepan on medium heat. Add sugar and cloves and continue to stir until most of the liquid has evaporated and the pineapple turns golden in color. Be sure to stir constantly so the pineapple filling does not burn. Taste the filling and add more sugar as needed. Remove and discard the whole cloves and transfer the filling to the refrigerator and allow it to cool.

Make the shortbread: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt and sugar. Add the softened butter and egg yolks and knead to form a dough. You may need to add more flour or butter depending on how wet or dry your dough is.

Roll the dough out into a log or a cylinder and cut it into 30 equal portions.

Using the palm of your hands, flatten a piece of the dough into a circle and add about 1 teaspoon of filling in the middle. Fold the dough over the filling and pinch to seal. Roll it into a rectangular or oval shape. Brush the top with the egg wash and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Transfer the tarts to a parchment paper or silicone mat lined baking sheet and space the tarts at least 2 inches apart.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops turn golden brown.

Pineapple tarts should be stored in an air tight container at room temperature and will keep for several days.



Yield:  30 tarts (I had difficulty making tarts with my dough so I only got about 10 large tarts)

Source: Rasa Malaysia; originally adapted from Fresh from the Oven

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