Portuguese custard tarts
These are best eaten on the day they are made. You will need a 12-hole (80ml/⅓ cup) muffin pan.
375g block puff pastry, thawed, at room temperature
2 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Duck egg custard
165g (¾ cup) caster sugar
310ml (1¼ cups) milk
50g (⅓ cup) plain flour
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
10cm-piece lemon rind
125ml (½ cup) cream
2 duck egg yolks
Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a 15cm x 20cm rectangle, with the long edge facing you. Take the short right edge and fold two-thirds of the way to the left, then fold left short edge over to meet the right edge. Rotate 90 degrees and roll out again to a 15cm x 20cm rectangle. Repeat folding and rolling process two more times. Finish by rolling out pastry to a 20cm x 24cm rectangle with the long edge facing you. Combine sugar and cinnamon and scatter evenly over pastry.
Tightly roll up pastry from the long edge like a Swiss roll, trim edges and discard. Cut dough into 12 even rounds. Working with one piece at a time, place cut-side up between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll out to an 11cm round. Carefully press rounds into a buttered 12-hole (80ml/⅓ cup) muffin pan, ensuring pastry rounds have no holes or cracks, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 220°C. To make custard, place sugar and 125ml water in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes or until sugar reaches 112°C (soft ball) on a sugar thermometer, or when a drop of syrup placed in a glass of cold water forms a soft ball. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, whisk 125ml milk and flour in a large bowl until smooth. Set aside. Place remaining 185ml milk, vanilla bean and seeds and lemon rind in small saucepan. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat and slowly whisk into flour mixture until smooth. Stir in yolks and cream until combined. Add sugar syrup in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly until combined. Transfer to a heatproof jug and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Spoon 3 tbsp custard into each pastry case and bake for 15 minutes. Increase oven to 250°C and bake for a further 5 minutes or until lightly puffed, custard is starting to brown and a skin has formed on top. Stand for 5 minutes in pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 11, pg134.
Photography by John Laurie