It’s officially the 21st century-edition of the roaring 20’s! The Lion City has been in complete new years mode over the past couple of days – after the NYE countdown, spectacular fireworks and an astounding drone show in the sky (the city went big to usher the 2020’s), the buzz has shifted to the Lunar New Year. The December 2019 and January 2020 holiday stretch is special in Singapore – Christmas, the dawn of a new decade and the Lunar New Year are all within the span of two months!
The island’s atmosphere began its metamorphosis from Yuletide cheer to Lunar New Year vibes without a minute spared from Boxing Day, with the 2020 new year being sandwiched in-between. The Lunar New Year holiday falls on 25th and 26th January 2020.
Out of all Southeast Asian cookies, my most favorite cookie is the good old pineapple jam tart. Although it’s loosely considered as a second cousin of the cookie family, the cookie base is more so of a cookie-pastry hybrid. I love it so very much, hence my inspiration to pen an ode to jam tarts for my very first post of the decade!
The magic and memories that pineapple jam tarts embody are parallel to those of Christmas cookies. Pineapple tarts, like Christmas cookies, make me feel as warm as toast on the inside. Although they’re available all year-round, these cookies are way more prominent during local celebratory seasons, such as the Lunar New Year period. As such, cookie hunters (myself included!) have begun scouting around for them in bakeries and supermarkets.
A fantastic jam tart, to me, is a duet on a plate – if ‘pineapple jam tart’ is the song’s title, it’ll be credited as ‘pineapple jam featuring tart base’. While the jam itself is a star, they’re a powerhouse when united.
These tarts don’t comprise of any ordinary jam. It’s neither like sticky jam in jam biscuits nor bottled jam spreads. Possessing a soft texture with shredded-like bits of pineapple, the jam’s significantly thicker and firmer, which helps in the process of rolling the jam into balls and placing them onto the base to ace the tart’s signature look.
Pineapple jam typically consists of pineapples (you can’t have pineapple jam without actual pineapples!), cinnamon, cloves and sugar. Jam recipes tend to vary as everyone has their own spins and touches to this classic – some include star anise, while others add rock sugar for the sugar component. This makes going on a limb and trying jam tarts from different places way more fun! This time, I selected the Nyonya jam tarts from my local supermarket.
Albeit being a tad sweeter than the ones I’ve had previously, the ones from this brand are absolutely delicious. The spices aren’t punchy flavor-wise, reminding me of other jam tarts I’ve had before. Anyone who’s not into strong spices would enjoy this. As cinnamon isn’t my most favorite ingredient and flavor in the world, I love having jam tarts as traces of cinnamon don’t seem to appear to me since pineapple always stands out. The pineapple jam has actual pineapple in it, hence contributing to the texture.
A generous portion of glossy pineapple jam shines on each cookie – literally! Upon my next few bites, I understood why the jam is a little sweeter. This is where the pastry/cookie base comes into the equation.
A soft, crumbly tart cookie-pastry pairs excellently with the jam – they nailed the egg wash too, hence giving it a lovely color and a nice depth of flavor. The base itself has a buttery edge, which balances the sweetness from their pineapple jam concoction.
Pineapple jam tarts are available at local specialty bakeries and some souvenir shops. If you’re visiting Southeast Asia (especially when there are ongoing festivities), do keep an eye out for these tarts. They’re definitely a must-try when you have the opportunity to taste them!