Pineapple tarts are little pockets of crumbly, buttery, pineapple-jammy goodness…… the quintessential Lunar New Year’s sweet treat in Malaysia and Taiwan. Making these cookies is a tasty little way to bring a little lunar new year celebration into your kitchen and makes for a fun collaborative cooking project to do with kids or friends. It’s true that they’re a bit time consuming to put together since you have to make pineapple jam in addition to the cookie dough, but all in all none of the steps are particularly difficult. Just make the jam and dough ahead of time and then gather your helpers for a cookie assembly party. Luca, who is 6 was able to assemble the cookies with only very little help from me — thanks to our trusty tortilla press. My little guy loved brushing the cookies with eggwash before they went into the oven.
Having delved into the world of pineapple tarts over the past weeks, I have learned that there are a variety of styles (Malaysian, Taiwanese, different shapes and decorations, filled, open face)….. which means with the basic dough and jam, you can experiment with making the shape and size that appeal to you. The kids and I started off making ovals (more of the traditional pineapple shape), but somehow decided we liked the look of round balls with pineapple-ish slashes on top, glazed with an eggwash enhanced with sweetened condensed milk to make the cookies super golden and shiny.
After making a small test batch of these, I brought some over to Simran and her family for a taste. I didn’t get nervous until I thought about the fact that Simran and her parents lived in Singapore for many years, are total foodies and would most definitely be familiar with this signature holiday treat…and I should probably also mention that they’re not afraid to call out sub-standard food when it crosses their path! So it was a bit like going in the lions den with this one. Luckily, they gave their thumbs up which means that you can feel free to make this recipe with a bit of street cred and that you really should bake some the next time you need to cheer up a homesick friend from Malaysia.
My friend Becky is about as close to a “super mom” as you can get. A demanding full-time job, 3 kids, and manages to find the energy for fun adventures, running half marathons, lots of home-cooked goodness, and having a sense of humor about it all. If she wasn’t such an awesome person, I might just hate her a little.
Here’s what she says about these carrot-zucchini muffins: “We make them in mini muffin tins. Oliver (baby) loves them and the other two will eat them if they are starving, so I save them for the ride home from school. They travel well and are reasonably good for you. Nate (toddler) is a huge fan of cooking with me and he loves this because he gets to do the cuisinart and the mixer. He also likes putting the cupcake papers into the baking pans. Even though he helps me make these, it doesn’t stop him from looking at the muffins later and saying – what is this green stuff mommy? Oh well!”
I gave them a test run recently and the kids I was with (ages 2-4) ate them right up. “Do these have vegetables in them?” asks the four year old, suspiciously. Aren’t you amazed at the impressive power of observation that kids have when it comes to spotting that sliver of green or tiny speck of pepper? But despite the suspicion of vegetables lurking, the lure of these muffins was just too strong. Tiny nibble…. “Mmmmm these are THE BEST!”. Big bite…. “More please!”
This makes a large batch (~2 dozen standard-sized muffins), so unless you have 3 hungry kids, you might cut it in half, freeze some, or best yet share with a friend. For little hands (or messy cooks), you can scoop the batter into a large zip lock bag, snip the corner and “pipe” into the muffin tins about 2/3 full.
Shopping List: eggs; vegetable oil or unsweetened applesauce; sugar; vanilla extract; 2 zucchini; 3 carrots; 1 can crushed pineapple in juice; salt; flour (all-purpose or can substitute 50% all purpose and 50% whole wheat); baking soda; baking powder; cinnamon; nutmeg; nut or dried fruit (optional)
- Combine 3 eggs, 1 cup of oil (or use apple sauce or a combination), 2 cups sugar (I reduced this by about a third), 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat together until thick and foamy
- In the cuisinart shred about 2 zucchini and 3 carrots so that you pretty well fill up a 9 cup cuisnart. Squeeze well to remove excess moisture and then stir into the to the mixture above.
- Add 1 can of well drained crushed pineapple (Crushed is much better than cubes as no one notices them if they are crushed.)
- In a seperate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: 1 teaspoon salt, 3 cups flour (or substitute 1.5 cups white and 1.5 wheat flour), 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Mix dry ingredients into the wet mixture, but don’t stir too much because it will make the muffins too heavy. (I usually stop using the mixer at this point and mix by hand.)
- If you like, add 1c nuts and 1 c. raisins (My kids aren’t fans of these at all.)
- Bake at about 350 for 15 – 25 minutes until they spring back in the center and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Reduce the baking time for mini muffins.