Pastéis De Nata {Portuguese Custard Tarts}

pasteis-de-nata-04

Hello and welcome to the last week of summer. I can’t believe it’s almost over already, and I also can’t believe I haven’t blogged in such a long time. Instead of thinking up summery treats for this blog, I mostly ate lots of Greek yogurt with berries and cooked tons of vegetables from my parents’ garden. Although both were delicious, it was nothing to blog about.

Our summer over here in Southern Germany was one of the hottest in years, and it only started raining this past Friday. Although it’s a relief to get a reprieve from a constant 30°C, I wouldn’t have minded summer easing away at a more moderate pace. Having said that, I realised after taking today’s food pics that they do seem to have a touch of autumn rather than summer to them.

pasteis-de-nata-03

Today’s recipe, pastéis de nata, has been sitting in my e-mail inbox for almost two years now. A Portuguese colleague was nice enough to send me her mother’s recipe after I told her I loved those things. I first had them at a hotel in Lisbon where they were served in miniature form – like I made today – for coffee breaks. My real love for them came when we visited the bakery where these custard tarts named Pastéis de Belém orginated in 1837. We were lucky to be there on a weekday afternoon because people usually queue a very long way to get a hold on these fantastic tarts.

I have made these only twice before, loved the recipe but sadly lost it because I hadn’t bookmarked it. The second time I made this using Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Portuguese custard tarts. This recipe from my colleague’s mother is very good, though, even if in my opinion nothing can compare to the original.

pasteis-de-nata-02

I halved the recipe, which made enough for a mini 12-hole muffin mould. Even though this recipe turned out fine, I would tweak it next time. I would reduce the number of egg yolks by one to make the filling less firm, and I would probably reduce oven heat; the tarts are supposed to blacken on top but with my oven that didn’t work so well because if I had left them in longer at the required temperature, the puff pastry would have gotten too dark and hard. Also, I would not sprinkle the tarts with sugar and cinnamon before baking. I didn’t like the look of the result.

I remembered Jamie Oliver using cinnamon powder on the puff pastry dough, then rolling it up and out so you get cinnamon circles in your dough. I took the easy way and just sprinkled my puff pastry with cinnamon. I used shop-bought puff pastry and had a little pastry and filling left over, which I used to fill 2 mini tart forms. Below you’ll find the original recipe for 12 normal-sized tarts.

This is definitely worth a try, though, if you’ve never made these before. If you have, you probably have your own recipe – if so, I’d be happy if you shared yours, or let me know whose recipe works for you.

pasteis-de-nata-05

Pastéis De Nata {Portuguese Custard Tarts}

  • Servings: 24 mini or 12 large muffin-sized tarts
  • Time: 15 mins prep + 15 mins baking
  • Print

500 g puff pastry
500 ml cream
8 egg yolks
2 tsp flour
200 g sugar
zest of 1 lemon
cinnamon powder
extra sugar

Puff pastry should be 1 cm thick maximum, if it isn’t stretch it or roll it out. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon powder. Cut 12 circles that are just slightly bigger than your muffin moulds, using a tea cup or glass.

Butter the moulds and fill each with a dough circle. It’s OK if the dough is a little thicker on the rims. Set aside.

For the filling, whisk together cream and egg yolks in a pot. Sieve sugar and flour into the mix, add the lemon zest, and whisk again.

Turn stove to medium heat and cook the filling until it starts getting slighly thicker. Be careful not to overcook it, otherwise the filling will be too thick! While you’re cooking, preheat oven to 250°C/475°F (non-fan).

Ladle the filling into the dough filled muffin moulds. [You can sprinkle the tarts with cinnamon and sugar before baking, but this is optional.]

Bake on middle shelf for 8 – 15 minutes. The filling will swell – don’t worry, it’ll go back down once the pastry is out of the oven. Cook until the tops of the tarts start blackening a little. [If you’re not sure how black they should get, take a look at the original tarts here.]

Eat warm but not straight out of the oven, otherwise you’ll burn your mouth!

pasteis-de-nata-01