Portuguese Custard Tarts (Pastéis de Nata)
These Portuguese Custard Tarts have crisp flaky puff pastry filled with a thick vanilla custard. They’re a simplified, but still delicious, version of the traditional Pastéis de nata which were supposedly first made by Portuguese monks in the 13th century. Legend has it the monks had been based in France where they learnt all about delicious pastries. When they returned to Lisbon they needed a way to use up egg yolks left over from starching clothes with egg whites.. and the rest is history!
Traditional recipes call for homemade puff pastry, and a sugar thermometer for the custard – this version is MUCH simpler! Other recipes may also use cream, lemon rind or cinnamon. These won’t brown as much as tarts made in commercial kitchens with extremely hot ovens, but you can try grilling at the end to get more dark spots (just keep a close eye on the pastry to make sure it doesn’t burn).
- 1 egg + 2 egg yolks
- 115g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 400ml full fat milk
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 x frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed
- In a saucepan, mix together the egg, yolks, sugar and cornflour. Slowly whisk in the milk.
- Transfer to the hob. Over a medium heat bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. (I find if it starts to go lumpy, quickly remove from the heat and whisk super fast until smooth. Then carry on).
- Pour into a glass dish, cover (so a skin doesn’t form), and leave to cool.
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin (80ml capacity).
- On a lightly floured surface, cut the pastry sheet in half and place one half on top of the other.
- Roll up from the short end (see photos), and cut into 12 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece to approximately 10cm round.
- Place into prepared tin and pour in the cooled filling.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins, then transfer to a rack.
- Use the two leftover egg whites to make Meringue Kisses!
- The custard filling is delicious – however make sure you scrape it all out (don’t be tempted to taste too much, or you won’t have enough!). Speaking from experience!!
- You can make the custard filling the day before and store in the fridge. Just make sure to keep it covered so a skin doesn’t form.
- Keep the tarts in the fridge if not eaten on day of baking.
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