Monday, 4 April 2016

pastel de nata - portugese custard tarts

Custard is a British institution. Apple pie and custard, apple crumble and custard, rhubarb and custard, prunes and custard – ok this last one may have some of your recoiling in horror but I’m telling you it actually works and is delicious. However, silky, vanilla-scented custard ensconced in a nest of crispy, golden puff pastry is even more amazing. Whether Portuguese custard tarts are eaten warm, fresh out of the oven, or cooled a few hours later they are undeniably moreish and pair perfectly with a good cup of coffee. If you know me you know I am a stickler for cooking absolutely from scratch so I am not overjoyed that I used shop bought pastry but hey, if some of the best chefs don’t mind then I guess I’ll just have to cut myself some slack.

Ingredients (makes 12)
600ml full fat milk
6 medium free range eggs (yolks only)
150g caster sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbs cornflour
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 packet of ready rolled puff pastry (320g)
Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin pan and set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour.

Add the milk to a saucepan and set on low-medium heat and immediately add the egg mix and whisk constantly until he mixture thickens and starts to bubble. This will take about 10 mins.

Take off the stove and stir in vanilla and cinnamon and transfer to a bowl. Add a sheet of clingfilm on top to prevent the custard forming a skin.
When the custard is cool, preheat the oven to gas mark 6 and begin to assemble the pastry.

Unwrap the pastry sheet and roll lengthways into a tight roll and cut into 12 equal portions.

Take each portion and place lengthways into the centre of each muffin hole and press down and out into the hole to cover completely. Ensure that the pastry is even all around.

Add about 1 ½ - 2tbs of cooled custard into each hole, until there is about 1 cm gap from the top.

Cook for about 30 minutes or until the tarts are golden and slightly scorched on top. You will see the custard has risen but it will deflate a little as it cools. Cool 5 minutes in tin and then carefully remove but inserting a small knife around the edges.

Cool further on a wire rack or just eat immediately! You can dust with icing sugar if you like

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