Call us traditional if you may, but these crumbly pineapple jam tarts are frigging symbols of CNY — on par with mandarin oranges. Every Chinese New Year, we’d eagerly look forward to devouring them.
But it’s really hard to stop at one — especially one that’s executed well and baked to golden perfection. A buttery, flaky crust, topped with a dollop of fragrant pineapple jam can be pretty irresistible.
The history of the pineapple tart
Pineapples were first brought into Singapore by the Portuguese in the 17th century. What followed was a proliferation of pineapple plantations across Singapore, especially in the Northern area where Yishun is currently located.
At that time, inspired by the tarts and pastries baked by Portuguese settlers, the Peranakans living in Singapore combined their baking techniques with pineapple paste — since there were plenty of pineapples readily available in the country anyway. And the pineapple tart was born.
Traditional pineapple tarts are originally made open-faced: a flower-shaped pastry base, topped with a golden ball of freshly made pineapple jam.
Over time, the all-star favourite has gone through many iterations of different shapes and flavors: pineapple balls, golf balls, ingots, cheese-infused, passionfruit-infused — you name it. Being Peranakan, I still have a soft spot for the traditional ones that I’ve grown up eating and these days, it’s not easy to find ones that are fragrant and delicious without being cloyingly sweet.
It’s commonly known that a pineapple tart contains about 100 calories each, give or take. Pop three pieces into your mouth and you’d owe yourself a full hour of cardio to burn that off.
This is usually due to the copious amount of butter and sugar used in the tart and jam respectively. So this year, we wanted to try our hand at making a healthy vegan version of our favourite CNY goodie.
No butter and no eggs, you say? Yes, and absolutely yes! We’re so excited to share this recipe with you — we hope you love it.
How to make pineapple tarts vegan
It’s still #veganuary so those who made the pledge: rejoice. These golden, mouthwatering pineapple tarts will be such an amazing treat.
Here are the main substitutes we used to make our pineapple tarts vegan:
- Sub butter with semi-solid coconut oil (100% plant-based)
- Sub sugar with maple syrup or honey
- Sub egg wash with vegan egg wash*
*Vegan egg wash = 2 tsp maple syrup + 1 tsp vegetable oil
Making the pineapple tarts
The pineapple jam is the most tedious process because you’d have to cook the fresh pineapple mixture for close to 2 hours to extract all the moisture and to have that beautiful, caramelised jam texture.
We used honey pineapples, maple syrup, cinnamon sticks and star anises for the spices. You’d first have to cut, peel and slice the pineapples — or simply buy readily cut ones from the supermarket to save time. Put the cut pineapples in the blender and blend until smooth. Transfer the blended pineapple mixture to a heated pan, add maple syrup, cinnamon sticks and star anises. Cook on low to medium heat for about 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
While you’re cooking the pineapple mixture, begin making the tart. In a large mixing bowl, add 100g of semi sold coconut oil, vanilla paste and extract, baking powder, salt, maple syrup, 130g of all-purpose flour and 30g of corn flour. Mix well until combined. Wrap dough in cling wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.
After the 15 minutes is up, take the dough out of the fridge. Lightly flour a chopping board and place the dough on it. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough to about a 0.5cm thickness. Use a flower-shaped cookie cutter (or any shape for that matter), to cut out each piece of tart. It should be able to make 16 tarts, depending also on the size of your cookie cutter.
By now, your pineapple jam should be a golden, caramel jam-like texture. Turn off the heat and let cool. Preheat the oven to 180 deg Celsius.
Place each piece of tart dough on the baking tray lined with baking paper, making sure they are space apart. Using a tablespoon, scoop the pineapple jam, roll it into a ball and place the pineapple jam ball on top of a tart. Repeat for all 16 tarts.
Brush the tart with vegan egg wash and pop it into the oven. Bake at 180 deg Celsius for 15 minutes — and there you have it! Delicious, freshly baked vegan pineapple tarts that are yummy and guilt-free.
Maybe even bake extra ong lai tarts and show some love to your family and friends. Huat an amazing treat! Who knows, prosperity may just flow in abundance for you this Chinese New Year.
Vegan pineapple tart recipe
For the pineapple jam
- 2 honey pineapples
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 3 cinnamons sticks
- 2 star anises
For the pastry tart
- 100g semi-solid coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 130g all-purpose flour
- 30g cornflour
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- Vegan egg wash (2 tsp maple syrup + 1 tsp vegetable oil)
- Start by preparing your pineapple jam. Slice the honey pineapples into rounds and place them into a blender. Blend the pineapples until it becomes a mixture.
- Transfer the pineapple mixture into a heated pan. Add the maple syrup, cinnamon sticks and star anises. Cook on low to medium heat for 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Prepare the pastry for your pineapple tart. In a large mixing bowl, combine the semi-solid coconut oil, vanilla paste and extract, baking powder, salt, maple syrup, all-purpose flour and corn flour. Mix well until fully combined.
- Wrap dough in cling wrap and let chill in fridge for 15 minutes. Don’t forget to continue stirring your pineapple jam cooking on the stove occasionally!
- After 15 minutes, take the dough out from the fridge.
- Using a rolling pin, roll and flatten out the dough until about 0.5cm thick.
- Using a cookie cutter, cut out 16 individual tarts. By now, your pineapple jam should be done. Turn off the heat and let cool.
- Preheat oven at 180 deg Celsius.
- Place the tarts one by one on the baking tray lined with baking paper, making sure they are evenly spaced out.
- Using a spoon, scoop out one tablespoon of pineapple jam and roll it into a ball. Place the pineapple jam ball on top of the tart. Repeat for all the tarts.
- Brush all tarts with vegan egg wash and pop the tray into the oven.
- Bake at 180 deg Celsius for 15 minutes until golden.
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