This is an all-time favourite cookies during the eastern festival, i.e. Lunar (Chinese) New Year in some parts of South East Asia, i.e. Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore among the Chinese community. The word “Pineapple” in few chinese dialects (Ong Lai in Hokkien, Wang Lai in Cantonese) means the coming of prosperity and good fortune. As both elements are perceived as important, pineapple becomes popular to usher in the New Year .
Well, I am not particularly superstitious but I LOVE pineapple tarts just for its flavor and slight chewy texture. If I make this from scratch by myself, I need to spend almost half a day or sometimes, a whole day to make this sumptuous tart!!! What takes up time is making the pineapple paste. The culprit lies with grating the pineapple manually. It usually takes me an hour to grate one pineapple on my own!!! Some choose to use a food processor to mesh the pineapple. This is a much faster way but it breaks down the strand / fibre which in turn alter the texture. However, there were times when I am not in the mood to grate the pineapple, I will use the food processor method. On a side note, I used to buy the ready-made paste from the bakery store in Malaysia so that I don’t have to spend that much of time making this tarts.
In making the paste, I prefer to use a half-ripe pineapple which is still firm enough to hold and grate manually. A fully ripe pineapple which has fully developed its sweetness taste better but the flesh might be too soft to grate. Traditionally, it is cooked for at least an hour or more for the juice to dry up and become firm, depending on the quantity you are making. I prefer to use a strainer or cheesecloth to strain the mixture, cook on high heat for at least 8 – 10 minutes for the juice to evaporate faster and turn to medium heat to cook for another 10 – 15 minutes.
The use of cinnamon bark and cloves add a subtle spice flavor, which is almost unnoticeable. That’s an advantage if you have guests who hate the taste of cinnamon and cloves. The amount of sugar added depends on personal preference and the sweetness of the pineapple. Once the paste is almost cooked, taste it first before dishing it up. If you prefer a sweeter paste, add in more sugar at this point.
I notice that my pineapple paste is slightly different in color having made this in different countries. I guess it is due to using pineapples grown in different farms and how mature are those pineapples 😉 So, the color ranges from golden yellow to dark brownish yellow.
For this recipe, I use a cookie cutter specifically use to make pineapple cookies.
Wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap and use a roller to roll the dough of approximately 10″x7″. Chill the paste in fridge for 30 minutes in order to produce a crispy base. Once chilled, dust the cookie dough with flour and use the cookie cutter to cut out the shape.
If you don’t have this cutter on hand, you can use a normal round cookie cutter with the centre slightly press down. Or shape it into different forms which require a change to the recipe. For a variation of the pineapple crust, add in an additional of 1/8 cup of confectioner’s sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 1 whole egg and 1/4 cup of milk powder. This variation produces a softer crust which gives a melt-in-the-mouth feeling. Wrap the paste with the dough and shape into balls. Or for a different look, shape into an egg shape with a flat base and use a scissor to make a zig zag pattern. Another way is to use a knife to make criss cross pattern.
Pineapple tarts need to be cooled completely before storage. If it is not cooled completely, there is a chance for mold to grow. For freshness, consume it within 3 weeks. If unable to consume within 3 weeks, refrigerate it. Once chilled, the texture will become slightly harder. Warm it for a minute in the microwave oven for it to soften.
For the recipe (in pdf) to make pineapple cookies, please click this link Pineapple Cookies
This post has been revised & updated on 6 July 2020.