Nonya Pineapple Tart Recipe

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These rich Chinese New Year delicacies originally have Portuguese origins, but are now loved by all; in Malacca, the Nonya, Eurasian, Chitty and Malay communities all make different versions. Rather than the traditional grated fresh pineapple, we prefer to use canned pineapple in natural juice as it is consistently ripe and flavourful.

Makes 2–3 dozen tarts | Cooking time: 2 hours plus 20 mins baking time (per batch) | Preparation time: 45 mins per batch plus 20 mins chilling time


Pineapple Jam

  • 2 cans (450 g/1 lb each) unsweetened pineapple chunks in natural juice
  • 1/2 pod star anise, broken into pieces
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cloves
  • 250 g (1-1/4 cups) fine granulated sugar, plus more as needed


  • 200 g (1-1/3 cups) plain flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon fine granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 125 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoons iced water
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water


  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Whole cloves


  1. To make the Pineapple Jam, drain the pineapple, reserving the juice. Chop it very finely in a food processor. Combine with the juice, spices and sugar in a pot (non-aluminium, preferably non-stick). Stir well over medium heat until the sugar completely dissolves. Taste, then add more sugar as needed for a good tart-sweet balance. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring very frequently, until the mixture is reduced to a thick, amber-coloured jam, 1-1/2  to 2-1/2 hours. Watch it carefully towards the end, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  2. To make the Pastry, whisk the flour, sugar and salt together in a large mixing bowl until well blended. Add the butter cubes and rub them in with your fingertips or a pastry whisk, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Beat the egg yolks, vanilla extract and water together and drizzle the mixture evenly over the flour mixture. Stir with a fork to bring the dough together into a ball. Knead lightly for a few seconds, then divide the dough into three portions. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for 1 hour.
  3. To make the Tarts, work with one third of a Pastry batch at a time. Pinch off a large walnut-sized piece of Pastry and flatten it to about 4 mm (1/8 in) thickness with your fingers to form a disk. Place 1 teaspoon of the Pineapple Jam on each disk and pull up the edges to enclose the jam. Pinch off any excess Pastry and roll the ball between your palms to make it round. Brush the tart with the egg mixture to glaze and stick a clove into it. If you like, use a small pair of scissors to snip tiny ‘v’s in the Pastry to make the tart resemble a pineapple. Repeat with the remaining Pastry and Pineapple Jam.
  4. Place the tarts on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake in a preheated oven at 170 degrees C (340 degrees F) for 20–25 minutes or until golden brown. If the tarts brown too fast, lower the heat to 160 degrees C (325 degrees F) halfway through. When done, cool on a rack before placing in an airtight container.

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Cover courtesy of Tuttle Publishing

Excerpted with permission from Singapore Cooking by Terry Tan & Christopher Tan (Tuttle Publishing).

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