Pineapple Tarts – Nastar Cookies
It wouldn’t be Chinese New Year without Pineapple Tarts! At least that’s how Singaporeans love their CNYs! These are my all-time FAVOURITE cookies! I could eat them every day and with every meal! I remember one year being left alone with a whole box of pineapple tarts. It was snowing so heavily that I was
lazy immobile. After a few hours, the only thing left in that box were crumbs…
Now I know it can be quite confusing that I use “tarts” and “cookies” interchangeably because in actuality that is how it is being described! These cookies may have originated from Indonesia and they sure are popular there! My grandma in Jakarta would always feed me boxes of these Pineapple-filled Cookies! (Kue Nastar)
If memory serves me right, these were the first pastries that I had ever baked in my life. I wanted to bake my favourite cookies at 13. The results were satisfactory but the whole process took about 8 hours because I used fresh pineapples and grated them by hand. I was so tired that day that I never wanted to bake again. I couldn’t imagine slaving in the kitchen for a jar of Pineapple cookies which I could buy for $10 (at the time. Last time I checked $25). But hey! Here I am! Slaving away again!
For the Pineapple jam, I used J’s recipe but cut down on the sugar as I found it a little too sweet for me.
from J's Kitchen
- 1 kg crushed pineapples or 2 cans of pineapples (canned pineapples can come in the form of chunks / slices / crushed. Save yourself time and get the crushed please!!)
- 2 cups sugar sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
Empty the can of pineapples into a saucepan without draining as well as all the other ingredients, and cook on high heat, mashing the pineapples whilst stirring occasionally. Cook until the mixture is caramelized. There should be close to no liquid left.
At this point, your mixture would have significantly shrunk. I was so worried the first time I did this! “Where did the rest of my pineapple filling go?!” I re-read the instructions again and again but the texture looked okay.
As for the dough, I tried J’s too but I found the dough a little hard to handle.
(Doubled the recipe and converted the measurements)
1 cup butter, chopped and cold
3 tbsp powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
Upon examining the initial recipe, it appeared to be a bit dry, so I decided to decrease the amount of flour when converting its measurements. The resulting dough was still very crumbly and did not come together very well, so I added a couple tbsp of half-and-half cream, as well as a tsp of vanilla essence to aid in working the dough.
The cookies were delicious, however, within minutes, they began developing cracks. This may have been due to the way I mixed the dough, since J’s seemed to come out perfect!
Anyhow, I tried Wendy’s “melt-in-your-mouth” Pineapple Tarts recipe and they turned out fabulous! I noticed that the dough became a lot easier to work with when the butter was at room temperature instead of “cold”. It’s still winter in Vancouver (heck, it snowed just a few days ago!), so I made sure to leave my butter out at least 8 hours before I prepared my dough. As you can see, Wendy’s recipe required a lot more ingredients but the cream cheese really gave it a nice soft texture.. mmmm!!
Wendy's Recipe: (converted measurements and made slight changes) Makes 40-50 Cookies
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup icing sugar (Used icing sugar as I didn’t have castor sugar)
- 7 tbsp cream cheese
- 2/3 cup whipping cream
- 3 yolks
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp corn starch
- Cream butter, icing sugar and cream cheese together with an electric mixer.
- Add whipping cream and mix well for about 5-10 minutes.
- Beat in the yolks
- In 3 portions, add sifted flour and corn starch, mixing on low speed until the dough comes together.
Now comes the tedious part. Individually wrap the pineapple filling with the dough. For each tart, I used a teaspoon of pineapple filling with a tablespoon of dough (which is roughly a 1:3 ratio. You may choose to increase the amount of filling if you like.). These can really take FOREVER. That’s why home-made pineapple tarts are so expensive!!
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp milk / cream
- 1 tsp honey
After wrapping 45 beautiful cookies, brush egg wash over them. Now I feel that this is the best way to bake them. Brush the egg wash over all your cookies, bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven, turn them over and bake for another 5-7 minutes. This will prevent the top from over-browning and cook the cookie more evenly! DO NOT overbake! Your cookies will still be extremely soft fresh out the oven, but they will harden after you let them cool. Overbaking will however result in very hard cookies though!
I actually had an order for CNY from a fellow Singaporean here. Like I said, it’s almost impossible to find these cookies anywhere in Vancouver. Considering all the time I spent wrapping these tarts up, I barely made a profit. My maximum production was only 20 in an hour (without breaks ).
Despite my sighs and grunts during the process, I encourage you to try making them! I absolutely LOVE these cookies! They smell and taste so divine that it’s hard to stop once you lay your hands on them. Good thing I controlled myself…. or my client wouldn’t have had much of an order left…
If you like, experiment with different shapes too!
Again, I’d like to wish everyone a very happy and prosperous Chinese New Year!! We have 15 days of CNY! So I’m not too late for this post.