• Chai-spiced custard tarts (Alan Benson)Source: Alan Benson

Portuguese custard tarts are one of those pastries that I just can’t go past and I love their rustic beauty. 

Makes
12

Preparation

1hr
15min

Cooking

30min

Skill level

Mid
By
Average: 5 (1 vote)
Yum

This recipe is inspired by the classic Portuguese pastry, the custard tart known as pastéis de nata, and has been adapted from Anneka Manning’s version. I made this recipe for my Make Me a Baker graduation. I knew I wanted to make something with puff pastry as it’s the skill I’m most proud of learning throughout BakeClub’s Make Me a Baker journey. I also wanted to make something that I love to eat, but until now, hadn’t attempted to make myself. I recommend making your own puff pastry, if you know how, as you can’t really beat a homemade puff.

Ingredients

  • melted butter, to grease

 

Chai syrup

  • ½ tsp loose leaf black tea
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 7 whole cloves
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 1 star anise
  • ¼ tsp dried ginger pieces
  • 250 ml (1 cup) water
  • 225 g (1 cup) caster sugar  
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

 

Chai custard filling

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
  • 1½ tbsp cornflour
  • 310 ml (1¼ cups) milk
  • 125 ml (½ cup) pouring cream

 

Pastry

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Chilling time: 1 hour

Cooling time: 30 minutes

Puff pastry-making time: 2 hours 15 minutes (optional)

  1. To make the chai syrup, lightly toast the black tea, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods and star anise and ginger in a frypan over a medium heat until fragrant. In a medium saucepan combine the water, sugar and toasted spices. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and then bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until reduced to a medium syrup consistency.  Stir in the vanilla bean paste. Strain through a fine sieve and set aside to cool.  (This will make about 1 cup of syrup.)
  2. Preheat oven to 210°C (190°C fan-forced). Brush a 12 hole 80 ml (⅓ cup) capacity muffin tin with the melted butter to grease. 
  3. To make the chai custard filling, use a balloon whisk to whisk together the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar and cornflour in a medium saucepan until well combined and smooth. Gradually whisk in the milk and then the cream. Heat the custard mixture over a low heat stirring constantly with the whisk until the mixture thickens and comes to a simmer.  This will take about 20 minutes.  Stir in 2½ tbsp of the chai syrup and simmer for a further 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and transfer the custard mixture to a heatproof bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap (this will help stop a skin from forming). Place in the fridge for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, or until cooled to room temperature.  
  4. To prepare the pastry, lightly flour your bench. Divide your pastry into two portions and roll out two 24 cm x 24 cm squares. Combine the sugar and cardamom and sprinkle half evenly over one of the pastry sheets. Cover with the remaining pastry sheet and then sprinkle over the remaining cardamom sugar. Use a rolling pin to roll over the pastry sheets to press the two sheets together. Firmly roll the two sheets of pastry together into a log. Use a sharp knife to cut the pastry log into 12 even portions.  You may need to trim the edges of your log before dividing the portions.  This will help to make sure they are even. 
  5. Place a pastry portion cut side up on a lightly floured bench top.  Use the back of a clean round drinking glass to flatten, and then use your rolling pin to roll into a 10 cm in diameter circle.  Using your fingertips, gently press the pastry round into a muffin tin hole.  Repeat with the remaining portions to make 12 pastry cases in total. 
  6. Spoon the cooled custard mixture evenly into the pastry cases.  Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until pastry is crisp and the custard is a light golden colour. 
  7. Stand the tarts in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.  This will take about 30 minutes. If desired, serve with a drizzle of the remaining chai syrup.

 

Baker’s tips

• You can buy dried ginger from most health food stores or from specialty tea shops.

• You can make the chai syrup and the custard filling the day before you bake the tarts.

• The tarts best eaten at room temperature on the day they are made, however they will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days. Bring them to room temperature before serving.

• You will have some leftover chai syrup which is delicious served over ice-cream or as a drink with warm milk.