Learn step-by-step how to make melt-in-the-mouth Nastar or Pineapple Tarts from scratch with no cracks. They are the perfect festive cookies to gift and enjoy during your special moments.
Melt-in-your-mouth Nastar with buttery, tender pastry crumb and delicious sweet and tangy pineapple jam filling is a must-have to celebrate the festive holidays. Nastar is one of the most popular cookies in Indonesia along with kaastengels (cheese stick cookies), lidah kucing (langue de chat/cat tounge cookies), and kue putri salju (snow white cookies). People usually make, buy, or gift these cookies, especially during Chinese New Year, Eid al-Fitr, and Christmas.
- Pineapple tart (international)
- Kue nastar (Indonesia)
- Kuih tart nenas (Malaysia)
- Ananas taart (Netherland)
What is Nastar?
Nastar, also known internationally as pineapple tarts, is a small-bite size tart filled or topped with pineapple jam. The pastry is made of buttery, melt-in-your-mouth crust that is filled with a sweet pineapple filling. The tarts are then shaped into small balls or various shapes, brushed with egg wash on top, and baked until golden brown.
Origin of Nastar
Nastar does not originate from Indonesia. The tart cookies may have been invented in the 16th century. This is around the time when the Portuguese established a colonial presence in the Indonesian Archipelago.
The pineapple, a fruit native to South America, was introduced to Asia by Portuguese merchants. The Portuguese produced a lot of new recipes using pineapples. Nastar was inspired by European pie which is usually made in a large baking dish containing strawberry, blueberry, or apple jam. Because those fruits were difficult to find in Indonesia, the filling was replaced with pineapple jam which had a similar sweet and sour taste. These large-sized pineapple pies with crimped rims and pastry lattices are still made in Bengkulu, Sumatra.
The Dutch then came in and started their colonization in Indonesia. Pineapple pie, which became a favorite of the Portuguese, began to be enjoyed by the Dutch. However, the pineapple pie did not last long in the hot tropical climate of Indonesia. Finally, the idea to create “ananas taart” was born. In Dutch, “ananas” means pineapple and “taart” means tart or cake. The combined two words were finally abbreviated and became the word “naastart“. The name “nastar” we know now comes from that word.
During that time, Nastar was consumed on special days such as Easter and Christmas by the Dutch. The natives also helped perpetuate the presentation of Nastar for the big day, such as Eid al-Fitr. Nastar has existed since the Dutch colonial era and remained in Indonesians’ hearts.
Ingredients For Nastar
- Butter. You can use unsalted or salted butter. If you use salted butter, just omit the salt in the recipe.
- Confectioners’ sugar. The reason confectioners’ sugar is used is that you will get a softer texture and delicate melt-in-your-mouth cookies.
- Egg yolks. The egg yolk contains fat that helps add richness and tenderness to the cookies.
- Vanilla extract. To enhance the flavor.
- Cake flour. Cake flour has a lower protein content and makes a more tender pastry.
- Cornstarch. Makes the pastry more tender and crumbly.
- Milk powder. Adds flavor and tenderness to the pastry.
- Salt. Omit the salt if using salted butter.
Pineapple Jam Filling
- Fresh pineapples. Grate the pineapples for a fibrous texture or blend the pineapples with a blender for a more smooth texture.
- Granulated sugar. To sweeten and caramelized the jam.
- Salt. To enhance the sweetness.
- Spices. Cinnamon, cloves, and star anise are commonly used to infuse warmth and flavor. In this recipe, only cloves are used but you can add cinnamon and star anise if preferred.
- Egg yolks. To give the top an appetizing golden brown colour.
- Vegetable oil. A little bit of oil is added to make the egg wash slightly shiny. It will also prevent the egg wash from cracking during the baking.
Type of Butter to Use
Indonesians are very opinionated towards Wijsman Dutch canned butter. It is the most popular and expensive butter in Indonesia. Apparently, the product itself is hard to find in the Netherlands. Wijsman butter was created specifically for tropical countries and no refrigerators during the colonial time. In fact, this butter can be stored at room temperature.
The Wijsman butter has a higher fat content, a more savoury taste with a sweeter aroma. That’s why the cookies made with this butter taste better and are more fragrant. You can also use regular butter, but you can still tell the difference.
Make The Filling Ahead of Time
Make homemade pineapple jam from fresh pineapples because it tastes so much better than store-bought ones. You will need to make the pineapple jam filling at least a day before because it can take hours to reduce the grated pineapples and let the jam cool. When you have your jam ready, you can proceed to make these melt-in-the-mouth cookies.
How to Make Nastar
- Portion the pineapple jam 1/2 tsp or 5 grams each. Roll them into balls with your hands.
- Make the pastry dough. Mix unsalted butter and confectioners’ sugar just until well combined. Add egg yolks and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Sift in cake flour, cornstarch, milk powder, and gram. Mix just until combined. Chill the dough for 20-30 minutes.
- Portion the pastry dough 1 1/2 tsp or 8 grams each. Roll them into balls with your hands.
- Take a ball of dough. Flatten the dough with your hands. Place 1 ball of pineapple jam in the middle. Gather the edge to enclose the filling. Roll with your hands to smoothen and shape into a ball.
- Place the balls onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake at 300F/150°C for 20 minutes.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the pan for about 5-10 minutes. While waiting, strain egg yolks into a small bowl. Add a little bit of vegetable oil and mix.
- Brush the top of the cookies with the egg wash twice. Bake at 300F/150°C for 10-15 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Transfer nastar to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Tips For Preventing The Top From Cracking
- Use weight measurement. Measuring by weight is recommended for accuracy.
- Cook the pineapple jam long enough. If you make your own pineapple jam from scratch, try to cook it until dry but moist and sticky, thick in consistency, and golden brown in color. If you undercook the jam, it will be runny and cause the pastry dough to crack when baked.
- Do not cream the butter and sugar. Just mix the butter and sugar until well combined. If you cream them until pale white and fluffy, the pastry dough will expand when baked.
- Chill the dough. It will help solidify the fat in the dough and prevent it from spreading during baking.
- Use low-temperature baking temperature. The most common cause for cracked Nastar is a too-high oven temperature, which will cause the top of the cookies to dry out before the inside is set. As the cookies expand, the dry surface starts to crack.
- Bake the cookies until fully cooked first before applying the egg wash. We bake the cookies twice in this recipe. The first bake is to fully cook the pastry dough before applying the egg wash. If the dough is still underbaked during the first bake, it will cause the pastry to expand on the second bake and cause cracking on the egg wash.
- Cool the cookies slightly before brushing them with egg wash. Let the pastry dough cools and firm up first before brushing it with egg wash.
How to Store
Let Nastar cool completely. Transfer the cookies to an airtight container and add silica gel to absorb the moisture. If they are stored properly in a sealed airtight container, they will last for up to 3 weeks at room temperature. Once opened, consume the cookies within 1 week.