Kueh Tart

What is Deepavali or any festive occasion in Singapore without pineapple tarts or kueh tart as my mother would call it? I love these little “very-bad-for-you” calorie laden devils – but then again, what is life without pineapple tarts?! My recipe for the pineapple jam gives you a juicier and more intense flavour. Some people say the jam is the most important ingredient for a good pineapple tart. I beg to differ – the pastry makes the difference. The pastry is distinctly European with its butter taste and the pineapple jam with the hint of star anise, cloves, cinnamon and pandan leaves is so Asian! My grandmother used to make pineapple tarts with Q.B.B. Pure Ghee and bake them in a charcoal-fired oven. My mother used to make her kueh tart pastry base with a mixture of Q.B.B. Pure Ghee and butter. I make my version with Q.B.B. Pure Ghee and find my recipe as good as my grandmother’s. She learnt how to make pineapple tarts from the “Nyonya”, the Peranakan lady who was our landlord years ago.  Take note that you can also make the pineapple jam for the kueh tat with the spices.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

TO MAKE THE PINEAPPLE JAM

700 g grated pineapple, squeeze out excess juice

300 g caster sugar

2 pandan leaves, tied into a knot

1 star anise

5 cloves

1 stick cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground mixed spice

METHOD

  1. Place grated pineapple, sugar, pandan leaves and the whole spices in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over moderate heat until it begins to boil and thicken lightly. You will have to keep stirring often and keep the heat in control or the pineapple will carry a burnt flavour.
  2. Remove the whole spices and pandan leaves and discard.
  3. Add ground mixed spice and lower the heat, then continue to cook stirring all the time until mixture is almost dry and thick.
  4. Leave aside to cool. Roll into small balls of about 1.5 cm diameter.

TO MAKE THE PASTRY

350 g plain flour

50 g corn flour

¼ teaspoon salt

250 g Q.B.B. Pure Ghee

50 g icing sugar

2 egg yolks

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

METHOD

  1. Sift the salt, cornflour and plain flour.
  2. Using a wooden spoon, cream Q.B.B. Pure Ghee, sugar, egg yolks, fine salt and vanilla essence until creamy.
  3. Fold in shifted flour and mix well to combine to make a soft dough. Refrigerate for ½ hour.
  4. Roll out pastry to about 0.75cm thick.
  5. Make tart shapes with pineapple tart cutter.
  6. Arrange on a lined baking tray.
  7. Place prepared balls of pineapple jam in the hollow of the cut pastries. Decorate with small bits of pastry or leave it as it is. I love to dot the tarts with minute pieces of dough rolled into small balls. It always made me feel that I have made an Indianized kueh tart with a “pottu”! Pottu is the red dot that most Indian women place on their foreheads. It is a cosmetic mark used to enhance one’s beauty.  As a matter of fact, my mother used to colour a bit of dough with red food colouring and would give it to us kids to make the small red balls. Sometimes we will be creative and make alphabets out of this dough!
  8. Bake in a preheated oven of 180° C or 375° F for 20 – 25 mins or until pale golden brown.
  9. Cool tarts thoroughly on a wire rack before popping into the mouth of storing.

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