Portugese Custard Tarts

Sunday 10 June 2018

I have a husband who totally adores custard in any way shape or form, but custard tarts are his very favourite way to enjoy it. He loves nothing more than a traditional British Custard tart, chilled and wobbly and heavily dusted with nutmeg.  These are not them.  These are Portugese Custard Tarts, and they are very different than the traditional British Custard Tart.  You can find my recipe for that here.

As I said Portugese Custard Tarts are quite different. Known officially as Pastéis de Nata, Portuguese Custard Tarts are composed of  a rich egg custard nestled in shatteringly crisp flaky pastry. I have never been to Portugal, so don't shoot me if you don't think these are authentic . . .  these are pretty close in my honest opinion, and yes I am a tad bit biased.

I will admit right now, all I have ever had are ones I have made myself.  They are fabulously tasty.  I can no longer remember exactly where  I got this recipe from, but I can tell you they are pretty wonderful.  I have learned a few things through the years of making them. 

Use an all butter puff pastry.  This is the best.  Roll it up as tightly as you can and then slice it into rounds.  I flatten them somewhat between the palms of my hands before I start to press them into the pan.

I find it really helps to put a tiny round of baking paper in the bottom of your muffin cups, just in case they stick.  I also like to butter them a tiny bit with cold butter, not soft.  There is nothing worse than a tart stuck to the tin.  Also use a good non-stick tin. If any of the custart overflows while you are baking them, this will make it so much easier to get them out.

As you can see, even so, mine did stick in a few places . . .

Another tip, when you are pressing them into the tins, make sure that the bottom o the shell is fairly thin. Its okay if it is a bit thicker at the top of the tins, but the part that will be baking beneath the custard you want to be earth shatteringly crisp and not soggy when done, so thinner is better.  Also don't skip the part where you stick the pan in the freezer while you make the filling. This also helps to create a nice crisp finish.

Try not to overfill them.  It is really better if you avoid this. The custard will expand when it is cooking, and puff up a bit. You don't want it to spill over if you can help it.

These are beautiful if somewhat a bit messy to eat  . . .  you have that lovely crisp and seriously flaky crust  . . . buttery  . . . 

Inside is the rich creamy custard . . . not as wobbly as British Custard tarts, this is much more unctuous, probably because of the liberal use of heavy cream, rather than milk.  Lucious . . .

The flavour is lemon  . . .  not nutmeg . . .  also beautiful.  I do so love my lemon anything.  If you are a fan of buttery flaky pastry and rich lucious lemon custard, then you will fall in love with these. I guarantee.

*Portuguese Custard Tarts*
Makes six

It only takes three letters to describe these delectable little creations W-O-W!! Try them for yourself and you’ll see what I’m talking about! Very quick and easy to make, and very impressive . . .

375g pack (1 (9 1/4 X 10)) inch sheet of all butter puff pastry, thawed (about 9 ounces)
4 large free range egg yolks
240ml heavy cream (1 cup)
95g caster sugar (1/2 cup) (superfine granulated sugar)
1 TBS cornflour
the finely grated zest of 1 lemon
a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 260*C/500*F/gas mark 10 Take the puff pasty and roll it into as tight a coil as you can, starting from the short side. Cut the coil into 1 1/2 inch wide strips. Put the pieces, cut sides down, into six muffin cups. Wet your fingers with a bit of cold water and press the pastry over the bottoms and up the sides to make a thin shell. It's ok if they extend a bit beyond the rim. Put into the freezer to chill while you make the custard. 

Whisk the egg yolks, cream, sugar, cornflour, lemon zest and salt together in a medium saucepan. Place over medium high heat and cook, whisking constantly until the custard begins to thicken. This will take about 6 1/2 minutes. It will look quite thin until you have been wisking for about six minutes and then in the last 30 seconds will thicken just enough, like magic! It should be as thick as lemon curd. You don't need to boil it.

Remove your muffin tin from the freezer and divide the custard equally among the prepared tartlet shells. (If you are using a 12 cup muffin tin, fill the empty cups half full of water so they don't burn, trust me) 

Bake until the tops are slightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around them and loosen them so that you can remove them from the pan and finish cooling them on a wire rack before devouring! (about 30 minutes . . . for the cooling, not the devouring . . . that shouldn't take all that long!)

Dust lightly with icing sugar and ground cinnamon to serve.

And then there was none  . . .  Bon Appetit!  


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Monique! The hardest part is pressing the pastry into the pan and keeping it thin on the bottom! xo

  2. custard tarts are my husbands very favorite desert, these look very good, my recipe is my grandmothers and its a bit different, uses just milk, but I know he would never say no to either lol,,

    1. Cream makes them really lucious Laurie. These are fabulous! English custard tarts only take milk. xo


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