Tuesday 30 January 2024

Sugar-Free Pineapple Tarts

 This was a bake (bakes actually) that came a little unplanned. It all started because I had leftover pineapple puree from my Lunar New Year themed marshmallow class and I thought of making pineapple tarts that some of my family members can eat without being afraid of spiking their blood sugar levels as much as regular pineapple tarts.

After some trials, I finally came up with something that I am satisfied with. I challenged myself to make pineapple tarts sugar-free without it tasting weird and while minimizing the use of sugar replacements because that's what makes bakes taste weird in general. Those that don't taste that bad aren't zero GI or impart a strong flavour of their own like maltitol (not zero GI) and maple or agave syrup (imparts their own flavour). I made both open-faced and "golf ball" types!

Since the Lunar New Year is so close to Valentine's Day this year, I made the open-faced tart with a little Vday vibes. It also gave me a reason to use a tart mold I have had for years but never used. I added some dragon scale pattern to some of the golf ball tarts since this year is the Year of the Dragon.

Take a look at the cross sections after I took a bite!

Sugar-Free Pineapple Jam
I made the jam without any real or artificial sugar at all. You won't miss it! Adding sugar replacements simply adulterate the taste of the jam when it isn't actually necessary. I tried. It tastes awful to me 🙈. What's the secret ingredient then? Apple! I have seen some people make the jam out of pineapples alone. Adding the right type of apple helps to regulate the level of sweetness/tartness to your preference. Apple is relatively neutral flavour wise and contains lots of natural pectin so it is used in creating homemade sugar-free jams by people who want to omit processed sugar in their diet. Use Granny Smith (sour green apples) if your pineapple is very sweet or you prefer a more sour jam. Use Golden Delicious apples or Gala if you prefer sweeter jam or if your pineapple is very sour. The approximate ratio I use is 1:5 for apple : pineapple by weight. Feel free to upsize your recipe as this is a small batch.

Ingredients (makes enough filling for about 20 tarts):
500g pineapple chunks (about 1 large pineapples)
100-110g apple chunks (about 1 apple)
1 tsp lemon juice (more if you prefer it more sour)
Pinches of salt
1 Cinnamon stick
Cloves and star anise if you wish

1. Blend apple and pineapples chunks together with salt. 

2. Add fruit puree and all other ingredients into large frying pan. Cook over medium heat and stir frequently. Reduce heat when the liquid has dried up. Continue cooking until total weight of ingredients is about 30% of original weight. Your jam should be dry. It took me about 20-25 minutes to get there. I used the largest frying pan I have to maximize surface area of the jam to the heat to speed things up. Some bakers use the oven to dry out the puree without having to stand at the stove for some time. To do this, line your largest baking tray with a few layers of foil. Bake the puree with spices at 90C for a few hours or until dry, stirring gently every 1-2 hours. Of course if you have Thermomix, use it😊!

3. Let the jam cool. Spread the jam in a thin layer on a plate/bowl/tray and refrigerate overnight uncovered. This will help excess moisture to evaporate.

4. Portion into 8g balls. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.

8g balls of pineapple jam

Egg wash
1 egg yolk
1-2 tsp water or milk
A few drops of oil 

1. Mix everything together and sieve. Refrigerate covered until needed.

Sugar-Free Open-Faced Tart Pastry
I adapted my recipe by chef Anup Kumar in a Straits Times article written by Hedy Khoo. You may read all about it here.

I highly recommend replacing the almond flour with cake flour as we would be more used to the wheat flour only version. Adding almond flour makes the texture a lot sturdier and the tart base tastes more like almond pate sucree used in classical French pastries. Using cake flour instead of plain flour is fine as I don't find the structure of the pastry compromised and it's overall still sturdy enough to be molded with a plunger mold. I went for the lower end of the suggested sugar amount and find that the sugar replacement aftertaste is hardly detectable at all so it tastes pretty good when eaten together with the jam! But if you are looking at a healthier tart pastry, replacing 12% of the cake/plain flour with almond flour is the way to go.

Feel free to upsize the portion as I made only a small quantity. 

Ingredients (makes about 20 open-faced tarts):
76g cake flour 
15g powdered erythritol (or icing sugar for non sugar-free)
1/4 tsp fine salt
40g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Sift together all dry ingredients.

2. Use finger tips to rub cold butter into flour mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Form a ball of dough with spatula. Flatten into a disc.

4. Wrap dough with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 min.

5. Roll the dough flat between two sheets of parchment paper to thickness of about 5mm. 

6. Lightly dust the surface of the dough with cornstarch or flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the mold.

7. Press out the dough with the mold and place on baking tray lined with parchment paper about 3cm apart.

8. Apply egg wash with a soft brush. You don't have to make it fancy like I did. I coloured part of it dark brown with chocolate emulco mixed into the egg wash.

9. Place pineapple jam in the middle and press it down lightly. 

10. Decorate with leftover pastry on top of the jam if you wish. 

11. Bake in preheated oven at 170C for 15-20 min or until pastry is lightly browned.

Here's a picture of the plunger mold I took with the freshly baked tarts.

Sugar-Free Golf Ball Tart Pastry
Tart pastry for this type of tarts doesn't need to be as sturdy as the open-faced version. I think this is the more popular version in Singapore because of it's delicate crumbly texture. I adapted the recipe from Celia over here. Feel free to upsize as I made a small portion.

Ingredients (makes about 20 golf ball tarts):
120g cake flour
15g cornflour
15-20g powdered erythritol (or icing sugar for non sugar-free)
20g full fat milk powder
1/4 tsp salt
100g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg yolk 
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Follow steps 1-4 in open-faced tart pastry.

2. Divide dough into 10g portions. Wrap the pineapple filling. 

3. Place 3cm apart on lined baking tray. Use a straw cut lengthwise in half to create dragon scale imprints if you wish. Chill for 10-15 min

I left some of them plain without the imprints

4. Preheat oven to 150C. Apply egg wash. Bake for 18-20min or until golden brown. You may take the tray out halfway to reapply egg wash if you wish.

Celia mentions that little bit of cracks is fine as it will reduce in appearance after cooling down.

Cool both types of tarts completely before storing in airtight condition. It can keep well for up to a week at cool room temperature. For longer storage, please refrigerate or freeze after wrapping it airtight. Toast before consuming.

Here's the video of the process:

My parents tried eating the pineapple tarts cold from the fridge (because they didn't want the hassle of toasting it) after more than two weeks of storage and loved it! They said the tarts were still very good! I also have data from home that eating these in moderation doesn't spike the blood sugar levels!

with lots of love,
Phay Shing

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