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.
- 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)
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 :)