Every year when Chinese New Year approaches, my mother in law and her sisters all gather together for a multi day baking marathon, churning out jars and jars of nastar (pineapple jam filled cookies) and pans and pans of lapis legit (thousand layer cake). I am always amazed at the stamina of these 50 and 60 years old plus aunties baking away with a big gas oven under 30 degree Celsius tropical weather. And the baked goods are always so delicious, on par if not better than those sold by bakeries. These are then distributed among the many family members and closed friends, of course me and my hubby always get a jar of nastar and a pan of lapis legit each year, lucky us right?
So with that introduction, let’s bake some cookies! Before we begin, let me warn you that it is best to spread this cookie making process to two days. Day 1: Make pineapple jam. If you start quite early in the day, the jam should have enough time to chill and you can start rolling this into little balls. Place them on a baking tray lined with parchment and chill in the fridge. Day 2: Make cookie dough. Roll dough into little balls. Stuff jam into each dough and roll into neat round balls. Remember to apply egg wash. Then bake. Fair warning: if you are making these for Chinese New Year, it is best to store a portion away so you don’t accidentally finish them all and have nothing left when you have guests coming over. 🙂
Making pineapple jam is the simplest thing in the world. At the minimum, you need one pineapple and some brown (or even regular) sugar. To make it a bit fancier, I usually add cinnamon and cloves, but some prefer it plain, so it’s really up to you. Puree the pineapple with either food processor or blender (don’t add any water), then cook this with sugar and the spices (if using) until thick. And remember that this is going to be filling for cookies, make sure the jam can be rolled into tiny balls and not fall apart, like the ones shown in the photo below. If you like this jam and want to make it as spread, feel free to stop cooking when it is thinner and more spreadable.
For the cookie dough, you will need butter, sweet condensed milk, egg yolks, and all purpose flour. This is a very simple cookie dough, but one that I really like. It has this melt-in-your-mouth property once baked, hold their shapes well when baked (I have tried many recipes where the dough expands when baked and destroy the cookie shape!), and more importantly very easy to work with when stuffing jam into the dough and neatly wrap the whole thing into neat round ball. Even for a Chinese like myself, I only make this at most once a year because of how labor intensive the whole production is, so dough that is easy to work with counts for many extra points.
I hope this post encourages you to make some pineapple cookies for this Chinese New Year. I wish you a wonderful time with family for the coming festivities, and may this year brings your prosperity and happiness. 恭喜发财. 祝你大吉大利, 年年有余, 吉祥如意!
To celebrate this coming Chinese New Year, I am collaborating with many other talented food bloggers to bring you a collection of cookies and other sweet treats recipe commonly served during this festive occasion. Please go ahead and take a look at our collective recipes. I hope you will make one or two to serve your family and guests 🙂
- snow fungus soup – Christine Leong from Vermillion Roots
- bingka ambon (Indonesian honey comb cake) – Marvellina Goh from What To Cook Today
- Chinese peanut cookies – Charmaine Ferrara from Wok & Skillet
- Vietnamese steamed rice cake – Amy Nguyen from A Taste of Joy and Love
- gluten-free Chinese almond cookies – Ann Kaufman from Grits & Chopsticks
- black sesame shortbread cookies – Lily Ernst from Little Sweet Baker
- ice cream mooncakes – Linda Kurniadi from Brunch-n-Bites
- coconut red bean pudding – Lokness from The Missing Lokness
- Korean caramelized sweet potatoes (goguma mattang) – Jean Choi from What Great Grandma Ate
- cashew nut cookies – Ann Low from Anncoo Journal
- one bite pine nut cookies – Betty Hung from Yummy Workshop
- baked coconut walnut sticky rice cake – Jeanette Chen from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
- black sesame cream puffs – Gina G from Pink Wings
- cashew nut cookies – Linda Ooi from Roti n Rice
- mini peanut puffs (kok chai) – Linda Ooi from Malaysian Chinese Kitchen
- lapis legit (thousand layers cake) – Anita (yours truly) from Daily Cooking Quest
- almond orange spiral cookies – Lindsey Tom from Butter & Type
- che ba mau (three color dessert) – Lisa Le from The Viet Vegan
- year of the rooster mochi – Bonnie Eng from Thirsty for Tea
- dasik (Korean tea cookies) – Jin Joo Lee from Kimchimari
- sweet sticky cakes (kuih bakul) – Lisa Ho from Lisa’s Lemony Kitchen
- tang yuan (sweet rice balls with peanut butter) – Maggie Zhu from Omnivore’s Cookbook
- mut gung (candied ginger) – Ann Mai from Plant Crush
- chick egg tarts – Anita Chu from Dessert First
- red bean soup – Sharon Wong from Nut Free Wok
- orange scented sweet red bean – Soe Thein from Lime and Cilantro
- 1 ripe pineapple, flesh only, about 1.5 kilogram
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
- 3 cloves (optional)
- 200 gram brown sugar, or to taste
- 350 gram unsalted butter, room temperature
- 100 gram sweet condensed milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 510 gram all purpose flour
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon milk
- In a food processor/blender, puree pineapple. Transfer pineapple puree into a heavy bottom pot along with cinnamon stick, cloves, and brown sugar.
- Turn on heat to medium and cook until boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking until the jam is really thick. Add more sugar if needed. Near the end, be sure to stir and scrap frequently to prevent burning.
- Transfer jam to a mixing bowl to cool. To speed up the cooling process, you can wrap the bowl with a saran wrap and chill in the fridge.
- Once the jam is cool to touch, line a baking tray with parchment paper, scoop a bit of jam (roughly 7 gram each) and make round ball, then place it on the prepared tray. Repeat until the jam is used up. If you prepare are going to prepare the cookie dough on the next day, you can cover the baking tray with a saran wrap and return the tray to the fridge.
- Beat together butter and condensed milk until light and fluffy. Add egg, one and a time, beat until well mixed. Slowly add all purpose flour in batches into the mixture, beat until the dough becomes smooth, but not sticky. I find it easier if I just use my hand to incorporate the last batch of flour into the dough.
- Scoop 10 gram of dough and make a round ball. Repeat until dough is used up.
- Prepare 2 baking sheets, each lined with a parchment paper.
- Flatten each dough, place the pineapple jam filling at the center, gather the edges of the dough and wrap the filling with the dough. Roll into a round ball, then place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat for the rest of dough and jam filling.
- Mix egg yolk and milk together to make the egg wash. Brush the top of cookies with egg wash.
- Preheat oven to 165 Celsius (325 Fahrenheit). Bake the cookies for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
- Let the cookies cool completely before storing them in nice looking jars.