Top | A Tiger in the Kitchen

Tanglin Ah-Ma’s Pineapple Tarts

(recipe, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan)


Quantities aren’t exact. My aunts don’t use a recipe, and they laughed at me the first 10 times I asked them for this one. The initial set of instructions they gave me for pineapple jam was “Aiyah, you just juice the pineapple, add sugar, and then boil, boil, boil!”


    For the jam
    1. 4 pineapples
    2. 2 to 3 pandan leaves, knotted together (see Note)
    3. 1 long cinnamon stick, broken in two
    4. At least 2½ cups sugar, depending on desired sweetness
    For the pastry
    1. 3 sticks plus 2½ Tbsp. butter at room temperature
    2. About 4¾ cups flour
    3. 4 egg yolks, plus 1 yolk for brushing onto pastry


    1. Make the jam: Peel the pineapples, dig out the eyes, and chop the fruit into chunks. Run the chunks through a juicer. Place the pulp in a wok or pot with a large surface area and heat it on the stove.
    2. Add the juice until the mixture has the consistency of porridge or grits; add the knotted pandan leaves and cinnamon stick. Bring the mixture to a boil and keep it there for 3 hours, stirring often. Halfway through, taste the jam, and add sugar by the ½ cup until the jam is as sweet as you desire. (The amount of sugar needed will vary greatly depending on how ripe the pineapples are.)
    3. The jam is done when the pineapple mixture has changed from bright yellow to brownish ocher and most of the liquid has evaporated, leaving a dense but moist jam.
    4. Make the pastry: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With a mixer on low speed, combine the butter, flour, and egg yolks, mixing for 3 to 5 minutes.
    5. Place the dough in a cookie press fitted with a disk featuring a circle of diamonds. Press the cookies out onto greased baking sheets. Form small balls of dough and press each one into the hollow of a cookie, forming the base of the tart.
    6. Assemble the tarts: Beat the remaining egg yolk with ½ teaspoon of water. Brush the rim of each tart generously with this mixture. Take a scant teaspoon of jam (more or less, as desired) and form a ball, then press it into the hollow of each tart. Pat the sides of the jam to create a small dome.
    7. Bake the tarts: Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees, until golden brown. Remove the cookies from the baking sheets and cool on a rack.


    Leaves from the pandan tree, also called screw pine, can be found frozen in some Asian grocery stores.