Thursday, July 29, 2010

Portuguese Custard Tarts

Portuguese custard tarts are rich, sweet, vanilla-laden mouthfuls of pure delight. Known in some quarters as "Devils Dainties" or the less imaginative "Coronary Cupcakes", I make them from time to time at work, and they're guaranteed big sellers. The recipe I use differs from most in that the custard is poured straight into the pastry to cook in the oven, rather than being cooked off beforehand. It's also thickened using yolks rather than a starch such as cornflour, resulting in a much richer flavour.

You'll need:
  •     puff pastry (defrosted)
  •     9 egg yolks
  •     1/2 cup sugar
  •     700ml cream
  •     splash of vanilla essence (or a split vanilla pod if you have any) 
This makes about 10 large size (as in large muffin-size) tarts.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Sprink or grease your muffin trays. Dust your bench with icing sugar and then roll out your puff pastry until thin; cut into circles and press into your tray, then allow to rest for half an hour. In a pot, bring 700ml of cream and vanilla to the boil (if using a vanilla pod, scrape it and add that as well as the pod to the cream - discard afterwards). While that's heating up, place your egg yolks in a bowl, add the sugar and whisk until thick and pale yellow. Once done, grab a wooden spoon, and pour a little of the boiled cream into the egg mix - stir vigorously. Add a little more, stirring to combine, then add the remainder. This technique is known as tempering. If you add all of the boiled cream at once, the egg mix will scramble. Adding a little at a time allows the mixture to adjust to the contrasting temperature.

Fill each pastry till about 3/4 full, then place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until set. Pop on a plate, dust with icing sugar and sit back and watch as they fly off the plate!

A big thank you to my boss and new head chef at P, Stacey Worsnop, for the recipe :)


Nigel Olsen said...

Forgot to add that there's a wee bit of shrinkage (the custard) after cooking.

V. said...

Thanks for the recipe! Portuguese custard tarts (or Pasteis de Nata, as we call them in Portugal) are my absolute favourite treat! I moved to NZ from Portugal two years ago and they still are one of the things I miss the most.

Have tried a couple of recipes at home, in an attempt to achieve a flavour that is as close to what you can get in Portugal as possible and some attempts have been more successful than others. Will give this recipe a go, for sure!

Couscous & Consciousness said...

OMG - these look great - and let's be honest, anything that contains 9 egg yolks is bound to be good! I have to try them - thanks for sharing.

Alessandra said...

Yeah I remember these...and they are so yummy!!! Thank you for sharing the recipe with us!

What will you do with the egg whites?


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Nigel,
Man those look yummy. I have never been confident enough to give stuff like this a go, but slowing down and reading the recipe I reckon I could give it a go. 10 I think would be about right for me and two hungry boys.

Nigel Olsen said...

Robb - If you three manage to knock of 10 tarts, I'd be mighty impressed!

Alessandra - I made a pavlova for a friend who'd just moved house - shame to waste them otherwise.

Sue - They're mighty good!

V - I'd love to hear what you think of them. I've tried three other recipes which were ok, but this is the best one yet. Tell me what you think when you get a chance.

Bronwyn said...

When I've had them the flakes in the pastry went the other way. You get your flaky pastry and roll it up into a thick log, then cut the pastry in slices from the end of the log. You use the slices to line the pans, giving you a sort of spiral of vertical pastry flakes. It's sooooo scrummy, somehow it makes the pastry even flakier.

It's described much better here:

Nigel Olsen said...

Bronwyn - Ah, Donna Hay's recipe does it exactly like that, to good effect.

pierre said...

hi nigel
looks like the ones I had recently in Lisboa !! congratulations !! Pierre

Nigel Olsen said...


Lisa said...

I absolutely love Portuguese custard tarts, they have to be one of my favourite things on the planet. I can't resist them :)

Nigel Olsen said...

Lisa, they're artery-chokingly good! Forgot to add too, that you can sprinkle them with caster sugar & blast them with a torch to caramelise the top.

Sasa said...

Ooh, been meaning to make these since I snipped a recipe a year ago...The best I had were at yum cha in Penang, these look awesome ^_^

Vanille said...

This is something I want to try since ages. They look so tempting !

Anonymous said...

Hi Nigel, I will be visiting your stopping grounds in a few weeks time, mabe you will be around and have time for a catch up? We are booked in for dinner at Provodore 3rd, couldn't come all that way and not eat there could I.

sunny @ taryn's design diary said...

These desserts have always been one of my favorites!

Susana said...

Hello Nigel!

I’m a Portuguese living in Welly, is good to know you like portuguese custard tarts!!! LOVE IT

Lou said...

Hi Nigel, Your tarts looked so good I had to have a go myself! Such a lovely simple recipe and soooo delicious! Thanks Lou

Lou said...

PS - I have added a link to your blog rather than re-type the recipe, I hope this is ok? Thanks

Nigel Olsen said...

Lou - No worries, nice blog! I shall be visiting regularly :)

Sunny - They are the best! I kid you not, they sell out everytime they appear at the restaurant (they're a Sunday brunch menu regular now!)

Susana - I feel better knowing these get the seal of approval from a Portugese citizen :)

Alli! Aaargh - I have that night off from the kitchen! Try the pork or the beef, & if head chef's cooking, go for the FOD. I'm not on till Sunday, so if you kids are still around, pop in for brunch. Btw, I found a packet of Pease Pudding in the Brit food section of Havelock North's New World! Should I give Pease a chance ;)

Vanille - They're relatively easy to make, so you could make some for morning tea this weekend.

Sasa - Years ago, I had an egg custard tart at Yum Cha which had been infused or cooked with star anise - amazing!

suddenly single white female said...

Another Susana here (from Auckland). These are delicious served warm, and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Go go a crunchy pastry case and blow torch the top with caster sugar. Unlike yum char d tarts, pasteis de nata pastry is not puffy, the custard is denser/richer and the finish (on top) is torched off. Yum!!!

Nigel Olsen said...

Susana - Yes, we torch them off before being served, too. Delicious wee things :)