To many, January often feels like a dreary Monday as we drag ourselves back to work after a month of dreamy, year-end holiday bliss and festive celebrations . The Chinese population in Asia however, are prepping themselves to usher in another bout of celebrations and binging. Christmas decorations in the stores are briskly replaced by banners and ornaments in bright crimson and gold. Christmas puddings, logcakes and cookies make way for traditional tarts, cookies and cakes.
I have celebrated Chinese New Year on this blog with my fellow readers over the last 3 years. I recall how I would judiciously stay away from traditional CNY goodies as I had believed that I could never hold a candle to the myriads of heirloom creations by the many ‘Patriachs Of The Family Kitchens’…. With that, I had always tried to work with something a little different, like the Kinako Polvorones and the Mandarin Friands. Subsequently, I found myself unable to stay away from my favourite pineapple tarts and went ahead to bake these for family and friends over the last 2 years. Common place and non-differentiating, you would see these everywhere. In the profession of marketing, we are constantly challenged to be innovative, to ‘think out of the box’ and to build enough differentiator into our product to sustain our work and profitability. Hence to be quite quite honest, as much as I enjoy eating the pineapple tarts and making them, I was beginning to feel a tad bored. I had looked at the tarts that came out of the oven and had thought, these could be anybody’s tarts… and that was when I started to dream and conceptualise…
Without veering too far away from the taste and texture, I thought it would be interesting to experiment with a different form. A presentation that is new and unique only to me – such that when friends see these when they visit each other, they would know immediately that these tarts had come from me! Yes, vanity got the better of me.
I rummaged through my stash of cookie molds and found an odd little polvorone mold which I believed I had bought out of curiosity in the Philippinnes. I also found 2 curious little wooden chinese stamps which I had forgotten about. Using a soft melt-in- the mouth tart dough, I started to experiment with my concept. There was quite a few experiments with the amount of dough and pineapple jam to use for my mold. Then, there was the challenge of getting a clean stamp without the chinese character smudging over. It was tedious primarily because I was experimenting with it but once the routine and rythmn has been established, the process should not be anymore complex than the making of the traditional forms.
Resembling miniature Tausar Piah (traditional green bean biscuits), these are delightful and taste just as good as the traditional closed tarts. So yes, I think this year, I can truly claim that I have made my own signature pineapple tarts. So if you spot them anywhere, they just might have been mine!
I share with you here, the dough recipe and for the pineapple jam recipe, please refer to here.
- Tart Dough
- 140g Salted butter
- 1 Egg yolk
- 180g Plain flour
- 20g Corn flour
- 18g Milk powder
- Place all ingredients in mixing bowl fitted with a paddle mixer and mix at medium speed until dough comes together and is smooth.
- Wrap tart dough with plastic sheet and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (12 hours preferred)
- Preheat oven to 160C.
- Remove tart dough from refrigerator and portion dough into 5-6g pieces.
- Portion pineapple jam to 4-5g portion.
- Wrap the pineapple jam in dough and shape the wrapped dough into a round ball.
- Lightly dust (6) with flour and shape it using a polvorone press.
- Brush a chinese character stamp mold with red colouring. Stamp each shaped cookie (from 7) with stamping mold. (you can either brush cookie with egg wash first before stamping but stamping the cookie without egg wash will prevent the stamped character from smudging)
- Bake cookies at 160C for 15-20mins or until cookie turns golden brown.
- Remove cookie from oven cool completely on a cooling rack.