• Portuguese custard tarts (pastéis de nata) (Alan Benson)

Traditionally made with a sugar syrup-based custard (such as this one), my version of these heavenly tarts use a simpler, more stable custard. It takes away the need for this extra kitchen utensil without compromising on the deliciously rich filling.

Makes
12

Preparation

1hr

Cooking

30min

Skill level

Mid
By
Average: 3.3 (354 votes)
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Ingredients

  • melted butter, to grease
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 100 g (½ cup) caster sugar, plus 2 tbsp extra
  • 1½ tbsp cornflour
  • 310 ml (1¼ cups) milk
  • 125 ml (½ cup) pouring cream
  • 1½ tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
  • 2 sheets (24 cm x 24 cm) bought frozen puff pastry, partially thawed
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

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

Preheat oven to 210°C (190°C fan-forced).Brush a 12-hole 80 ml (⅓ cup) muffin tin with the melted butter to lightly grease.

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 low heat, stirring constantly with the whisk, until the mixture thickens and comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer the custard 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.

Combine the extra sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle half evenly over one of the pastry sheets. Cover with the remaining pastry sheet and then sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar. Use a rolling pin to roll over the pastry 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.

Place a pastry portion cut side up on a lightly floured bench top. Use the heel of your hand to flatten slightly then use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll into a 10 cm circle. Use your fingertips to gently press the pastry round into a muffin tin hole. Repeat with the remaining pastry portions to make 12 pastry cases in total.

Spoon the cooled custard into the pastry cases, dividing evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is cooked and crisp and the custard is lightly golden on top.

Stand the tarts in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool (this will take about 30 minutes). Serve at room temperature.

 

Baker’s tip

• These tarts are best eaten at room temperature the day they are made.

 

Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien. Food preparation Kerry Ray. Creative concept Lou Fay.