Super-belated CNY’12 Post!

Yesyes this is not the first “Super-belated-” titled post I know, but what can I say? Imma busy woman LOL ok I’m not actually I’m just downright lazy. Since yesterday’s Ben and Jerry’s Free Cones Day, and I stuffed myself with a total of 7 cones hohoho, I figured I’d might as well exercise a little today. Of course I’m living in self-delusion and convincing myself that sitting in front of my laptop and typing away is a form of exercise. But don’t you go bursting my bubble

Tang Shui

Vegetarian Yu Sheng

What’s CNY without Yu Sheng?

Back to CNY a.k.a. Chinese New Year. Traditional Chinese New Year treats include things like awesome melt-in-your-mouth peanut cookies, melon seeds, love letters, and of course my personal favourite – pineapple tarts. Now that I finally have my own oven, and can bake (considerably), I was super excited to make my own goodies! Imagine this: your relatives and friends come visiting. They sit down, reach for a jar of CNY goodies, pop it into their mouths, and go “WOOOOOAAAAAHHHHHH WHERE DID YOU BUY THIS?” Then I’ll flash them a oh-so-humble smile, flutter my lashes, and say “heh I made it. Ya like?” AWESOME.

But of course I didn’t want to be too adventurous. I AM an amateur after all. So I decided to make my fave pineapple tarts, and some kueh bangkits! I chose kueh bangkits cause the recipes seem rather straightforward, and also cause I’ve never tried it before. Never. My mum said it was sorta her childhood CNY goodie though, so I decided hey why not just give it a try?

The pineapple tarts, on the other hand, were more troublesome. There were so many variations on the web, so many people claiming their versions were the best, so many promises about their recipes, urgh it was so hard to decided which recipe to try! Some said more sugar was important to prevent the tarts from spoiling too fast, some said little sugar was required, some said lime was needed, some said it was not; NEVER-ENDING.

Don’t get me started on the crust.

Apparently there are buttery flaky crispy melt-in-your-mouthy softy chewy crackly and many other-y kinds of crusts.

Which to choose?

In the end I settled for a combination of a few recipes I found, and ended up with a version that was IMHO awesome. My friends and relatives LOVED them. One friend finished an entire jar, containing about 22 tarts, within 3 days!!! Then she called me and asked for more 😀 haha honestly there couldn’t be a better way to boost my ego. For a first timer to receive such good comments about her pineapple tarts…ahhhhh amazing.

I’ve read from many sites that the pineapple jam’s the trickiest part in making pineapple tarts. I disagree. I thought it was pretty straightforward. Granted, to find the perfect balance between sour and sweet, the correct texture and all that takes a few tries. I made the jam thrice before finding my fave! But other than that, the method’s really straightforward and it’s real hard to screw it up. It doesn’t burn as easily as they say it does!

What I’ve learnt is that it’s real watery at the start, bubbles a lot, spits a whole lotta juice at you which by the way burns real bad, then reduces and caramelises into this pretty brown jam that tastes absolutely heavenly.

I’ve also heard that you die-die HAVE to grate the pineapples by hand, cause that way most of the juice is reduced and you won’t have to cook it for too long a time. But lazy ol’ me tried puree-ing it, and my jam turned out pretty darn fine! I didn’t cook it for hours like some people did. It took me approximately 30 minutes for 2 pineapples! Hmmm o.o

I know my photography skills are still rather non-existent *ahem more like totally* but really, don’t let that put you off trying these tarts. Cause they’re really worth the effort. Trust me (:

As for the kueh bangkits, let’s just say that this ain’t THE recipe yet. It wasn’t bad really. The taste was there, it was kinda melt-in-your-mouth-ish. Just not melty enough. But it’s an ok recipe to try out if you want something a tad simple!!

Oh and just in case you were wondering “why hearts?” Erm…I don’t have pineapple tart cutters YES NOOB I KNOW 😦 Felt pretty upset about it, but the heart-shaped cutters were pretty much the only ones I have besides the Christmas ones! So heart it is!

Everyone thought it was pretty cool fyi 😀

Pineapple Tarts (makes approximately 32 tarts depending on your cutters)
Adapted from kokken69’s Pineapple Tarts

200g all-purpose flour
50g corn flour/starch
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
140g butter
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 1/5 tablespoon cold water

Pineapple jam
1000g under-riped pineapples (Sarawak or Honey), cut into chunks
150g sugar
1 1/2 lime, juiced
2 twigs cinnamon
2 cloves star anise

For the pastry:
1. Preheat the oven to 160C.

2. Sift the dry ingredients and refrigerate for 5 minutes.

3. Cut chilled butter into cubes. Add this into the dry ingredients and work the butter in with a fork till mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

4. Mix yolk, vanilla and cold water together. Add this to the flour and butter mixture and work briskly to bring the flour together. Once it can be formed into a ball, stop and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.

4. Roll dough out to 0.8mm thickness. Cut out the tarts and brush an egg yolk glaze (mix 1 yolk and 1 tablespoon water) over the cut dough. Place a ball of pineapple jam on it. Place the tarts an inch apart and bake for 20 minutes. Cool and store!

For the jam:
1. Peel the pineapples but do not core them. Remove the “eyes”. Cut into chunks and puree them with 1/3 cup water. Pour this puree into a pan/wok.

2. Cook the pineapple puree with cinnamon and lime over medium heat till 80% moisture has evaporated, stirring the mixture occasionally.

3. Add the sugar. Stir once and leave the jam to reduce further over medium-low heat till it is 90% dry. Increase the heat for another 10 minutes, stirring to avoid burning.

4. Reduce heat to low to further dry up the jam. Once dried to your desired consistency, remove from heat and let it cool completely.

Kueh Bangkit (makes approximately 85 cookies)
Recipe from Loving Baking’s Kueh Bangkit

120ml coconut milk (+80ml)
350g tapioca flour/starch (+150g)
150g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
6 pandan leaves

1. Wash, dry and cut 5 pandan leaves to 5-7cm lengths.

2. Place a paper towel over a large baking pan. Put 1/3-1/2 of the flour onto it, making sure the flour is quite spread out. The point is to remove as much moisture as possible. Add in 1/3-1/3 of cut leaves and bake at 160C for 30 minutes. Cool the flour completely then sift it. Repeat this step till with all the 500g flour.

3. Heat all 200ml of the coconut cream with the remaining 1 pandan leaf over low for 5 minutes. Stir and cool.

4. Measure 120ml of the cooked coconut cream, and add the sifted sugar into it. Add the yolk and mix to combine.

5. Sift the cooled tapioca flour. Add about 350g of sifted tapioca flour to the coconut mixture and knead to form a soft, pliable dough. Do not add all the tapioca flour all at once. The dough should be soft and pliable and should not look “shiny” or “spread”. Should it “spread” or feels wet, add more tapioca flour, 1 Tbsp at a time, until it feels dry enough. If it’s too dry, add some of the remaining 80ml coconut cream till the right consistency is obtained.

6. Roll the dough out to 4-5mm thickness, and cut out shapes from the rolled dough.

7. Preheat the oven to 140C, and bake the cookies for 25 minutes. The cookies should not brown.

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