by Tricia Garside
When I was a little girl in Singapore, ong lai was the name of the delicious pineapple tarts that people would enjoy on Chinese New Year. In the Hokkien dialect, ong lai means “pineapple,” or it can also mean “fortune comes.”
Pineapple tarts are still a very popular pastry during the festive season in Asia because they taste amazing and they are believed to be an omen of good luck and prosperity in the coming year. We would bake batches of these signature mouthwatering treats and give them as gifts to friends and neighbors...if we didn’t eat them all first!
Chinese New Year Pineapple Tarts
Pineapple Filling(to be made the day before)
- 6 ripe pineapples
- 3 cups of coarse sugar
- 3 cloves
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 3 segments of star anise
- Remove skin and eye (the core) from pineapples.
- Grate pineapples and place them in a large aluminum saucepan. Add cloves, cinnamon stick, and star anise. Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens, then spoon out the cinnamon, anise, and cloves.
- Let the pineapple filling cool. Store in the refrigerator overnight until ready for use.
Pastry(to be made the day before)
- 1½ cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 pound of butter
- 4 beaten egg yolks (set aside ½ egg white for glaze)
- 2 oz of iced water
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture turns into course crumbs.
- Make an indentation in the middle of the dough and pour in the egg yolks and water. Press the ingredients together gently with your fingers. Be careful not to knead the dough too much or it will lose its flakiness.
- Gently roll the dough into 1-inch balls, wrap in plastic, and chill them in the fridge overnight.
Pineapple Tarts Assembly
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Lightly flour a flat surface and roll the dough out to ¼ inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut 50 2-inch rounds. Place them on a cookie sheet.
- Place a spoonful of pineapple filling on each dough round. (Some bakers like to decorate their tarts with thin strips of dough in a crisscross pattern over the filling.)
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow tarts to cool before you transfer them off the cookie sheet.