• Cheat's egg tart (Camellia Aebischer)Source: Camellia Aebischer
Craving a bite of flaky pastry and that signature sweet, silky, soft custard tart filling? It’s closer than you think.
Camellia Ling Aebischer

18 Sep 2020 - 12:03 PM  UPDATED 18 Sep 2020 - 12:03 PM

The hardest part of making a Chinese egg tart (daan taat, dan tat, or dàntǎ) is the pastry. Making its sweet, silky custard filling is simple. Combine eggs and milk (typically evaporated but regular works fine) with sugar syrup, pass through a sieve and pour into awaiting pastry shells. Bake, cool, devour.

There’s never going to be a frozen replacement for that flaky, buttery egg tart pastry with its beautifully layered ruffled edges, but when you require a hit, regular old puff will be there for you. These tarts are by no means authentic, or a sub for the real thing, but they really do hit the spot.

I cut the pastry for these tarts using a scalloped cutter, to give the illusion of the egg tart’s signature mould, but you can just cut them out with a water glass or regular round cutter. If you have the egg tart tins, even better.

Usually I stick with ratios and flexibility but for this one you'll need to measure. It's easy, promise!

How to make cheat’s egg tarts

You’ll need:

  • 70 g sugar
  • 150 ml water
  • 75 ml milk (evaporated, if you have it)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 sheets puff pastry

Pre-heat oven to 160°C (fan-forced).

Mix sugar and water in a bowl and stir for a few minutes to dissolve. Add the milk (it’s ok if there are still some tiny bits of undissolved sugar, they'll melt when the milk is added), stir again well, then mix in two cracked eggs. Do not whisk.

Pass the egg mix through a strainer to remove any lumps and bubbles/smooth the mix. The filling will be quite pale, and some restaurants add food dye or extra egg yolks for colour. If you're fussed you can do that but this is an express route so I'm skipping it.

Cut your pastry into 12 circles (I used a 10cm cutter) and push it down into a muffin pan, or tart tins if you have them. If you're not worried about appearance, just do the same with pastry squares. Pour the mix in carefully, about ⅔ and no more than ¾ of the way full to avoid overflow.

Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 mins until just set and only very lightly golden. Ideally, you want to avoid them puffing up too much (it means the oven is too hot).

Not as pretty as a tea house but they really do hit the spot.

Cool slightly – best eaten warm but still hits the spot at room temp. Keep these on the bench, and if you really need to put them in the fridge, they’re best warmed up in a low oven to get the pastry crisp.

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