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Tat Nenas | Pineapple Tarts

Golden globes

Golden globes

Tat Nenas is a firm favourite among Malaysians! What’s not to like about aromatic and chewy, sweetly spiced pineapple jam that is encased within a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pastry?

The nenas (pineapple) is auspicious in Chinese culture; it symbolises prosperity, wealth and abundance of luck – thus, the tat nenas is an embodiment of all things good. 
Growing up, I can vividly remember the excitement whenever my parents would get us ready to visit family and friends hosting open houses; my brother and I had a secret seal of approval on some of the tat nenas sampled from various households. For me at least, that superceded the lure of the red ang paos.
Indeed this is such an iconic treat that love of pineapple tarts has spread to our other cultures, and you’d even find tat nenas during Hari Raya (Eid-ul-Fitr) and Deepavali.
The Malaysian pineapple tart here is a bit of a misnomer; it resembles nothing of its Western counterpart because it can present itself as an open-faced tart as well as (as I have prepared), a closed one. The pastry for the open-faced pineapple tarts are usually cut from a biscuit mould, and are as varied as they are glorious in presentation. Click here to be gobsmacked by the luscious golden globes.

Being the tropical paradise that is Malaysia, pineapples are a perennial fruit. There are quite a few species.

How many species, you may ask?
Well there are those that are cultivated for canning (N36, Gandul, Moris), those great eaten fresh (Josapine, Johor 1, Sarawak, Crystal Honey, Maspine) and those that have, one way or the other, found its way into many a Malaysian pot/tummy (Nanas Hijau, Moris Gajah, Yan Kee, Giant India, Hana, and even one incredibly named Sleeping Beauty!). 

However for the purposes of making pineapple jam for our tat nenas, we’d hit gold with the Moris pineapple (sometimes also spelt as “Morris”). Think of the Moris as the rebellious teenager of the pineapple family: sour, tart, tough. And just like any angst-y teenager, we need to ply on the sugar, yet give them the heat, and eventually they will break down and turn to the dark side, so to speak.

Mangled mixed metaphors aside, begin by breaking down a pineapple.

Unlike the instruction in the link above however, please keep the core.

I started out with one Moris pineapple, and after all the needful trimming, I was left with about 950g of the edible bits. I then pureed the lot (core and all); and then bunged the puree into a large pan. If you have a wok (I don’t), please use it instead as it allows for the best dissipation of heat to reduce the pineapple puree, and quickest evaporation of the liquid.

Pureed pineapple pulp | Nat Yusop

I then threw in a couple of star anise and cinnamon sticks.  You should cook the lot on high heat for about 20 minutes before turning down the heat to medium or medium-high (depending on how big your pot is). At that point I added in a cup of loosely packed light brown sugar. You may also want to throw in 5 – 8 cloves as well, but pick out the cloves (and the other spices) when the jam begins to thicken. If you leave the cloves in for too long, it will be harder to pick them out when the jam gets thick and brown. The star anise-cinnamon-clove aroma is the one to beat!

Super aromatic pineapple jam

Super aromatic, greatly reduced, pineapple jam

The jam will take about 40 – 45 minutes to cook; then let it cool sufficiently. When the jam is cooling, you can make your pastry.

The recipe I used was from the Kitchen Tigress blog and her instructional video.

After the pastry had rested for about an hour in the fridge, I used a 1/2 tablespoon scoop to portion both the jam and the pastry dough evenly, and then rolled them into balls with the palms of my hands.

Rolls | Nat Yusop

The tat nenas I made is styled after the Kueh Nastar (Indonesian pineapple cookies), which are round – one of the easiest methods of preparation, heh! From my jam yield, I had 21 evenly scooped portions of jam, and so prepared the same number of pastry balls. (Note: there is a lot of pastry excess still sitting in my fridge, waiting for another bake).

How to prepare the tarts | Nat Yusop

To shape the tat nenas, flatten one round of pastry dough between your palms, then coax the pastry “skin” over the ball of jam. Once sufficiently covered, give the jam-filled pastry another few rounds of rolling in your palms to smoothen. You could bake them immediately, or freeze the portions.

Give it an egg-yolk wash and insert a clove into each golden globe

Give it an egg-yolk wash and insert a clove into each golden globe

I chose to bake them immediately.

Before going into the pre-heated oven (170°C), give the tarts an egg-yolk wash and push one clove into each centre. These tarts will not puff out while baking; I placed all 21 of them onto the same tray, leaving about 1.5 cm between each tart. Watch the tops go golden brown (it will take about 20 – 25 minutes).

The aroma of baking pineapple tarts is absolutely arresting.

I guarantee you, it will take all of your willpower to stop yourself from eating a hot off-the-oven, molten-cored tat nenas.

Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pastry & fragrant sweet homemade pineapple jam. What's not to like? :)

Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pastry & fragrant sweet homemade pineapple jam. Pull out and discard the clove first before masticating!

16 comments on “Tat Nenas | Pineapple Tarts

  1. Nina Che Rus
    May 30, 2013

    Woohoo tat nenas.. cool or warm the allure is still the same.
    Pastry must be soft, melting even, jam must be not too sweet but in abundance! Sigh.. do not look at your thigh after.. just savour the flavour, and be happy with your tat nenas! 😀

    • Nat Yusop | BakeSlave
      May 30, 2013

      Spoken with the zen of a true tat nenas master, LOL!


      • Nina Che Rus
        May 31, 2013

        Master I am not as I have never made one before (sheepish!) but an Eater I am.. hehhe nom nom nom 😀

  2. Fae's Twist & Tango
    May 30, 2013

    What’s not to like about aromatic and chewy, sweetly spiced pineapple jam that is encased within a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pastry? Absolutely nothing and I want some right now. When I am in Malaysia, that is what I am going to look for. I bet they wouldn’t be as good as your, Nat.
    BTW, I love your great sense of humor! For example…
    “Let it brie and forever hold your peas….or lettuce know how you feel” 😀 )))

    • Nat Yusop | BakeSlave
      May 30, 2013

      LOL! Oh Fae, do let me know when you will be docking in KL next year; you may well find a care-package waiting for you 😀

  3. Tea with Erika
    May 31, 2013

    These look sooooo good! No wonder it’s a favourite among Malaysians and, after this post, I bet it’s going to be a favourite worldwide 🙂

    • Nat Yusop | BakeSlave
      May 31, 2013

      Hey there Erika!
      There’ll probably be a friendly dispute over who has the better tart, heh heh! Indonesians, Singaporeans and Malaysians have variations of the same theme 😉

  4. artandkitchen
    May 31, 2013

    Yummy! This is a real good idea. They remember me the moon cakes. And you don’t need a mold.

    • Nat Yusop | BakeSlave
      May 31, 2013

      Moon cakes! Did you enjoy them? 😀
      (I haven’t got the skills to make moon cakes; thanks for the inspiration though, heh heh)

      • artandkitchen
        May 31, 2013

        Yes, Iove them. i had them the first time in Singapore! I never prepared tehm, i would like, but I think I need a perfect recipe and the molds. Even my family loves them.

  5. kamcheechee
    June 1, 2013

    So can order for 2014 CNY huh? Hari Raya not far off tho.

  6. radhika25
    June 3, 2013

    Love, love, absolutely love pineapple tarts….and to think I lived 40+ years without ever tasting them!

    • Nat Yusop | BakeSlave
      June 4, 2013

      How can that be? No spillover from Johor? :p

      • radhika25
        June 4, 2013

        Lived in India until 5 years ago. Kerala has a pineapple halwa very similar to the filling….but I’d never tasted these pineapple tarts until I moved to Singapore. And now I’m in love with them 🙂

      • Nat Yusop | BakeSlave
        June 4, 2013

        LOL! That’s a lot of pineapple tarts to catch up to. Lovely that Singapore is a great melting pot of cultures and cuisine. 😀

Let it brie and forever hold your peas....or lettuce know how you feel:

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This entry was posted on May 30, 2013 by in Bake, Malaysian Kuih, Tarts & Pies and tagged , , , , .
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