A Taste Of Taiwan: Make These Pineapple Tarts

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With square, buttery crusts encasing a jammy pineapple filling, this pastry is a unique Taiwanese treat. You'll find them sold as if they were fine truffles throughout Taiwan, wrapped in fancy boxes and packaging. No one can resist them once they've tried just one, so a box of these is a popular gift item and a must-have souvenir when traveling. Because of their neat, square shape, it's not exactly easy to make pineapple tarts at home. But warm and freshly baked, they're well worth the effort.

Reprinted with permission from The Food of Taiwan

A Taste Of Taiwan: Make These Pineapple Tarts
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  • 1 medium pineapple
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water
  1. Trim the fronds and base from the pineapple and cut off the tough skin. Slice lengthwise in half and then into quarters. Cut the thick center core from each quarter. Chop the remaining pineapple.
  2. Place in a saucepan along with the water and sugar and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been reduced to a jamlike consistency and the color has turned a deeper, more orange color, about 1 hour.
  3. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is dry enough to pick up with your hand and roll into a ball, about 2 hours. Let cool completely.
  4. Cut the butter into small cubes. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, salt and baking powder. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, with pieces of butter no larger than peas.
  5. Sprinkle in the water a little at a time, just enough until the mixture comes together in a ball. Form the dough into two balls and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  7. Cut each ball of dough into 6 equal-sized pieces. Flatten one piece against a lightly floured surface into a 3-inch round. 
  8. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the pineapple filling in the center of the round. Carefully bring the edges of the dough to the center to seal it shut over the filling. Place seam-side down on a lightly floured surface, and press the ball down gently to flatten the top. Gently press the sides of the ball with a scraper or flat knife to form a rough rectangle. Repeat with the remaining dough and pineapple filling.
  9. Arrange the tarts at least 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until the tops are pale golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.
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