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“Tangerine Pie” aka Caramelized Pineapple Turnovers

First of all, happy Lunar/Chinese New Year! I don’t actually celebrate this holiday, but I do love any excuse to bake things. ^_^

There are a lot of traditional aspects of Lunar/Chinese New Year, such as giving gifts of money and eating foods which are symbolic of long life and good fortune. In China, the word for tangerine is a homonym for the word “gold,” and as such, tangerines are often given as gifts at the New Year.


This dessert doesn’t actually involve any tangerines, but they are shaped like tangerines in keeping with tradition and to symbolize good fortune. The original chef of this recipe explains that these turnovers are a highly prized gift in Singapore during the New Year.

I actually made this recipe a few weeks ago to bring to a holiday/new year potluck with some friends. I knew I needed something that would work for a crowd, without any mess…and easily transportable. Between all the things I expected from whatever recipe I would choose as well as my desire to not make the same recipe twice, I reached for one of my tried-and-true cookbooks.

So far everything I have made in Pichet Ong’s The Sweet Spot: Asian-Inspired Desserts has been a hit, and this did not disappoint! I got a complements on this recipe from a wide range of people and taste buds…definitely worth the effort!

On to the recipe! (also apologies in advance for the orange quality of the pictures. The dough is slightly orange, but I made these at night in my apartment, which has terrible lighting…plus I’m no good with a camera 😉 )

First, the filling is made using pineapple, sugar and cinnamon. I made this the night before I wanted to bake the turnovers.



Also the night before, I made the pastry dough.


Now comes the tricky part. The dough is kneaded, rolled, and cut into circles.


Well, that was still relatively easy, but here is the challenge: Keep the dough in one piece while “rolling” aka squishing it into a ball



And finally, the fun part. Glaze the balls with egg and stick in the clove “stem” Adorable and worth it!




“Tangerine Pie” aka Caramelized Pineapple Turnovers
Makes about 3 dozen turnovers
From The Sweet Spot Cookbook, though I have changed several things about the ingredients and process

Filling Ingredients:

1 pineapple, peeled, cored and finely diced
1 cup of sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon salt

Pastry Dough:

2 cups flour
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons custard powder
1 tablespoon dried milk powder
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg


1 egg yolk
36 whole cloves


•Place all the ingredients for the filling in a medium saucepan, set over medium-low heat, and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. This will take about one and a half hours, but it basically does its own thing—you don’t need to do much.
• When the filling is finished, place in a container and refrigerate until it is needed.
• To make the dough, place the flour, custard powder, and dried milk together in a bowl. • Beat the butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed for a few minutes, or until light and creamy. Add the flour mixture and mix to incorporate.
• Add the egg and mix until the dough just comes together.
• Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a disk, and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
• Roll the dough out and use a 3 inch circle cutter to make small discs of dough.
• Place 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of the dough circle. Hold the dough in the palm of your hand, then gently cup it until the edges come together in the center. Slowly, with both hands, squeeze the edges together and shape into a ball. Be careful not to split the ball open.
• Place the dough balls about 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Brush the dough balls with egg yolk and press a clove into the center of each to create a “stem.” Bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
• Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

My Thoughts:
• WOW. The pastry dough is SUPER crumbly! Beware! Really, it is fine, but it takes a few trial-turnovers to get the hang of rolling them…and even then some of them aren’t so pretty
• I loved how mysterious they were! I don’t know what it was about this combination of ingredients, but people had a difficult time guessing that the filling was pineapple-cinnamon.
• Make sure you tell whoever you serve these to NOT to eat the clove in the top 😛 For some reason I assumed it was self-explanatory… but you know what they say about assuming

Rating: 4/5 Delicious and adorable, but time consuming and challenging to roll.


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