Usha’s Pineapple Tarts

Usha Devi Ayinarappan was an early learning facilitator with the EarlyON (OEYC HVB) in the City of Kawartha Lakes for over 13 years. She shared her joy for life and learning, enriching the lives of children and families in the Fenelon Falls and Bobcaygeon area. In the warmer months, the program was often offered outdoors on the beautiful grounds of the Maryboro Lodge Museum. Many of the children who attended are now grown, but their families still remember Usha and the program from their children’s formative years fondly. With her warm smile and laugh, Usha would share games, crafts, songs and books with enthusiasm. She had a flare for reading books with expression, capturing the attention of her young audience, and their parents too! Usha loved what she did, and did what she loved–she was an early childhood educator through and through, nurturing the magic of childhood.

Usha was also a talented baker and spent hours planning her holiday baking to share with others. She would start this favourite recipe early; purchasing fresh, ripe pineapples—grating them to make perfect pineapple jam for the tart filling. This Malaysian treat originated in the 1500s, and Usha would be honoured that her family recipe is being shared with the Fenelon community.  In addition to enjoying her Pineapple Tart recipe, we hope you will stop and smell the rose bush at the corner of the school house. The Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society are stewards of the lovely gardens in and around the Museum and Fenelon Falls. Laurie Jones and her dedicated team planted a beautiful rose bush, on behalf of the EarlyON, in Usha’s memory. It is hoped that children and families will enjoy this colourful rose bush for years to come, as well as her Pineapple Tart recipe. It should also be noted that pineapples, “ong lai”, translates to ‘fortune come’ and so giving these tarts as gifts means wishing good fortune and good luck.  

Ingredients

  • 3 cups grated pineapple
  • 3 cups caster sugar
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove
  • 10 ounces (about 1 ¼ cups) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 6 ounces butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence

Directions

  • First make the jam:
  • Place grated pineapple in a sieve and let it sit for ½ hour, to allow the juice to drain, then save the juice.
  • Caramelize 1 cup of caster sugar in a large pan until it is golden brown.
  • Add pineapple, 2 cups of sugar, cinnamon and cloves.
  • Bring to a boil and cook until it is “soft ball” texture.
  • If the jam is too firm, use pineapple juice to soften it.
  • Next make pastry:
  • Sieve together flour and baking powder.
  • Cream together butter and egg yolk well, then add vanilla essence.
  • Add flour and knead into a soft dough.
  • Add a little water if needed.
  • Preheat Oven to 325.
  • Next combine ingredients:
  • Roll out jam into small balls (about 1/2 inch diameter).
  • Roll out dough to about ¼ inch thickness on a lightly floured board.
  • Cut with cookie cutters to 1 or 1 ½ inch diameter.
  • Place cut cookies on a non-stick baking tray, about an inch apart.
  • Make a small dent on each cookie, then place a ‘jam ball’ in the dent.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Remove cookies carefully (they will be very soft) and place on a wire rack to cool and firm up.
  • Enjoy!
  • Alternatively, these cookies can be made into little “rolls”. To do this, cut rolled dough into squares about 1”x1”. Place on baking tray, add jam ball in the center and fold over the top and bottom edges to form a small roll. Brush with a little milk or beaten egg yolk before baking.

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