Kue Nastar (Indonesian pineapple tarts)

Kue nastar is a popular filled cookie in Indonesia during Tahun Bahru Imlek (Lunar New Year) and other holidays, such as Lebaran (Eid Mubarak) and Hari Natal (Christmas). Kue means cake, and the Dutch-influenced treat takes its name from the Indonesian word for pineapple “nanas” and the Dutch “taart,” hence “nastar.”

Cookbook author Patricia Tanumihardja learned how to prepare the dish from her mother’s friend Aunt (meaning “aunt”) Linda Lee. Using Lee’s recipe as a base, Tanumihardja developed her own version, which uses salted butter, as well as a mixture of all-purpose flour and cornstarch for a melt-in-your-mouth pastry.

Active time: 2h30; Total time: 9 hours, with cooling time

Get ahead: The filling should be done at least 8 hours and the dough at least 30 minutes before baking the cookies.

Storage Notes: Filling can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week; the dough for up to 2 days. The tartlets will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 weeks.



Size tested: 48 servings; pies

  • For the pineapple filling
  • 1 medium pineapple (2-3 pounds/907-1360 grams), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)

  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar

  • A cinnamon stick (2 inches)

  • 4 whole cloves

  • Water, as needed

  • For the dough
  • 3 1/3 cups (400 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 grams) cornstarch

  • 21 tablespoons (10 1/2 ounces/300 grams) salted butter, at room temperature

  • 1/2 cup (153 grams) condensed milk, at room temperature

  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature, divided

  • 1 teaspoon of honey

  • 1 teaspoon lukewarm water

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Prepare the pineapple filling: In the pitcher of a blender, blend the pineapple until it forms a coarse puree, making sure that no large chunks remain.

In a 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet or large saucepan, such as an 8-quart Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, combine the pineapple puree, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, so mixture simmers gently, and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until dark brown and thickened, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The mixture should be thick enough to form balls. Stir more frequently in the last 30 minutes of cooking to prevent the bottom from burning, reducing the heat if necessary. If the mixture starts to burn, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time, scraping up any lumps from the bottom of the pan.

Remove from the heat, let cool to the touch, about 15 minutes, remove the cloves and cinnamon stick, and transfer to a covered container. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 1 week. You should have about 1 1/3 cups (about 380 grams).

Make the dough: In a medium bowl, sift the flour and cornstarch.

In a large bowl and using a flexible spatula, mix the butter and condensed milk until well blended. Add 2 of the yolks and stir until well blended. The mixture will be lumpy.

Add the flour mixture in batches, mixing it with the spatula. When about two-thirds of the flour has been added, the mixture will seem very dry and as if not coming together. Now working with your hands, continue adding the flour and working the dough together until it becomes smooth, soft to the touch and malleable. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.

Assemble the cookies: place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg yolk, honey and water for glaze.

Divide the dough into four equal pieces; each piece should weigh about 240 grams. Divide each section into 12 pieces of about 20 grams each and roll them into balls. You should end up with 48 balls. Do the same for the pineapple filling with each ball weighing about 8 grams; scooping it up using a teaspoon measure is helpful.

Place a ball of dough in one hand and flatten with the edge of your other palm to form a circle about 2 inches in diameter. Place a ball of filling in the center and fold the edges of the dough over and around the filling, then roll it into a ball the size of a golf ball. Arrange the tarts one inch apart on one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining batter and filling.

Brush the balls of dough with the egg wash. Place one sheet in the oven and refrigerate the other. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown, turning halfway through.

Transfer the tarts to a wire rack and let cool completely. Repeat baking and cooling with the remaining tartlets.

Serve at room temperature.

Origin of the recipe

From food writer Pat Tanumihardja.

Tested by Kara Elder.

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