Pineapple mouse cookies for Chinese New Year

Traditional Chinese pineapple cakes (鳳梨酥), symbolizing prosperity for the Lunar New Year, are a delicate balance of butter and fruit. This rat pack is happily adorable and bite-sized, celebrating the year of the rat.

Today is the Chinese Lantern Festival, marking the last day of Lunar New Year celebrations, which means I can finally 1) cut my hair; 2) vacuum; and 3) wear black clothing without having to feel guilty about breaking the many festival season superstitions

And although it’s undoubtedly one of the coldest days we’ve had this winter in Toronto, I can see the light at the tunnel: longer days with the return of Spring, officially rung in by tonight’s first full moon of the season. 

During the holidays, it’s all about the good fortune – money, luck and health (for many people, in that order), and the pineapple cookie is no different. In Hokkien, the Chinese dialect largely spoken in Taiwan, where these cookies originate, the word for pineapple sounds similar to the forthcoming of prosperity.  

In the 1930s, Taiwan was one of the largest exporters of pineapple; and today, you can find these freshly made cakes sold in fancy gold-embellished boxes as souvenirs or even wedding gifts. 

They’re on the drier and crumbly side, but contrasted with the sweet and sticky fruit jam in the centre. Plus, if you’re making your own pineapple jam, the end result is much juicier than the store-bought ones. 

So, if you fell for a Chinese taboo, doing so much as wash your hair or do laundry on New Year’s Day, you might be in luck. These cookies may not reverse your bad fortune for 2020, but it’ll definitely make your year all the more sweet!!! 

In the making

✘ Don’t panic if your pineapple jam doesn’t thicken up in 30 minutes. Keep it on the stovetop for 45 minutes at most, because it will continue to dry out – and get less runny – as it cools and when it’s baked. 

✘ Don’t turn your oven higher than 300°F, or the cookies may crack. Hold off on opening the oven midway, otherwise the temperature fluctuation might cause cracking too.

✔ It helps to have a glass of water nearby when shaping the mice. Moistening the dough make it more malleable and sticky to better seal the jam inside.

✔ You’ll be lucky the days are longer, because while these cookies are easy to prepare, they can be slow and tedious to decorate and shape into mice. That’s why I unintentionally split the cookie dough into three chunks, saving unused portions in airtight containers for the fridge. Then, on three separate days, I then stuffed and baked the mice in front of mindless background TV. 

✔ Flat-nosed mice are also very cute.

kitchen-whiskers-mouse-cookies-pinteres

kitchen-whiskers-chinese-new-year-mouse-cookies

Pineapple cookies

  • Servings: 58 - 60 mice
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Traditional Chinese pineapple cakes (鳳梨酥), symbolizing prosperity for the Lunar New Year, are a delicate balance of butter and fruit. This rat pack is happily adorable and bite-sized, celebrating the year of the rat.

Credit: adapted from themondaybox.com for the jam, lovingcreations4u.com for the cookie

Ingredients

Pineapple jam 

  • 2 cans crushed or sliced pineapple (567 grams) 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (52 grams) 

Cookies

  • 2 cups plain flour (350 grams) 
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (42 grams) 
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar (60 grams) 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (227 grams)
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • cold water (few drops if needed)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds 

Directions

Pineapple jam

  1.  Drain the canned pineapple, and then, using your hands squeeze out any additional juice.
  2. In a blender or food processor, puree the pineapple until smooth.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the pineapple puree and sugar. Mix continually with a wooden spoon until thickened (approximately 30 minutes). Set aside to cool.

Cookies 

  1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, combine plain flour, cornstarch, icing sugar and salt. Mix or pulse for a few seconds.
  2. Add butter and beat on low speed until mixture has the texture of coarse meal.
  3. Add in lightly beaten egg yolks and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until a dough is formed. If your dough is too dry, add a few drops of cold water.
  4. Remove dough from mixing bowl and shape into a ball. Cover and chill the ball of dough in the fridge for about 30mins.
  5. Portion out two groups of 10g dough. Mix in brown food colouring in one portion and pink food colouring for another portion. This will make the eyes, nose and tail.
  6. Divide the rest of the uncoloured dough into 11g balls (roughly 58 pieces). 
  7. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  8. To each 11g dough ball, flatten it with your fingers or a rolling pin and spoon in about a teaspoon of the pineapple jam. Pinch the edges of the dough to seal it, forming it into a ball with a pointed edge to form the nose.
  9. Stick two almonds in the top for ears. Add eyes, nose and a tail (optional) using the black and pink coloured dough you made earlier.
  10. Place the tarts on baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated oven for 22-25 minutes. Leave to cool on baking tray completely before storing in air-tight containers.

kitchen-whiskers-pineapple-jam-mouse-cookies-close

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s