Portuguese tarts (Pastéis de Nata)
I remember eating these little tarts in the famous Casa Pasteis de Belém in Portugal a few years ago when we were on holiday there. The place was packed and I literally swallowed three tarts within 5 minutes, I kid you not. Since then, I have seen them most commonly in Nandos in the UK and a handful of pastry shops.
They’re dead easy to make, but I reckon a few small tweaks will make the recipe perfect. The taste of the custard filling is spot on – creamy with a touch of cinnamon powder but I think could be a bit firmer. I’ll also put the tarts under the grill next time to try and get more burnt spots (yes, burnt spots are good here).
I have served these as is but feel free to sprinkle more cinnamon powder or icing sugar on top before serving.
What you’ll need
2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
115g caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
230ml double cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
300g rolled puff pastry
How to make your Portuguese tarts
1. Lightly grease a 12-hole 80ml muffin tray.
2. Put the egg yolks and egg, sugar and cornflour in a pan and whisk together. Gradually whisk in the cream and milk until smooth.
3. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and cinnamon powder. Transfer the custard to a bowl, cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool.
4. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
5. Roll out the puff pastry (I rolled mine out to roughly the size of an A4 sized paper) onto a clean work surface lightly dusted with flour and icing sugar. Cut the pastry sheet in half, put one half on top of the other and set aside for 5 minutes. Roll up the pastry tightly from the short end like a Swiss roll and cut the pastry log into 12 x 1cm – 2cm rounds. Roll out until each is 10cm in diameter.
6. Press the pastry rounds into the muffin tin. Spoon the cooled custard into the pastry cases and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry and custard are golden. Leave the tarts in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Tip: It’s important when cooking the custard that you keep stirring to avoid curds forming and to ensure you get a smooth consistency. I used a small whisk for stirring.
Yields 12 tarts
Recipe adapted from Bill Granger’s Everyday Cookbook