All-butter puff pastry filled with deliciously rich egg custard flavoured with vanilla is my idea of heaven – I love these Pasteis de Nata!
I don’t like custard. Well I didn’t until I tried one of these! Rien’s Aunt made these at Christmas and I was reluctant to try one as I’ve never had custard and liked it before. I am incredibly glad I tried one, they were absolutely amazing. The pastry is flaky and buttery which goes perfectly with the creamy, thick egg custard.
I knew I wanted to make these for my Mum because she likes English egg custard tarts so these are perfect for her. I decided to make them for her birthday so I had a few months to wait before I made them! Since then, I have seen Patesis de Nata everywhere! They were featured in April’s issue of Good Food and were the cover recipe on Delicious. So by waiting and making these now I am right on trend!
Although both Good Food and Delicious featured a recipe, I knew I was going to use the recipe Rien’s Aunt, Carol, had given to me because I knew they were delicious. She found the recipe from the Guardian which was featured as Lucian Freud’s favourite breakfast dish. The recipe can be found here: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/oct/25/lucian-freud-custard-tarts-breakfast-champions.
This recipe featured a couple of firsts for me; all-butter puff pastry and vanilla pods. The all-butter puff pastry was a little bit harder to work with than usual puff pastry because it started to almost melt whilst working with it due to the high butter content. So try to handle it as little and quickly as possible. The vanilla pod added a fantastic flavour which couldn’t have been replaced with vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste and I was excited to finally use it.
I went into making these having no idea what I was doing and only having a fairly brief recipe to guide me. A couple of times I had a few doubts and wondered whether they would turn out right. The main stage when I was a little worried was when I was pouring the custard into the pastry. On some of the tarts, the custard began seeping out so I thought these would not turn out very well. When I took them out of the oven though, I couldn’t even tell which had been the problem tarts!
One tip I would advise is when pouring, use a jug! When I was pouring the warmed cream into the egg yolks I thought it would be fine to pour from the pan – it wasn’t. If you’re anything like me, it will be far easier, and quicker, to use a jug whenever you’re pouring.
When the finished tarts first came out of the oven, they did look good but I remember thinking they didn’t look as good as Carol’s. I left them to cool and when I came back to them, the custard had settled and almost sunk down a little bit and I was very happy to see they did now look like Carol’s! So don’t panic if yours look slightly different when they first come out of the oven, they should settle and look amazing!
My Mum said these reminded her of when we were on holiday in Portugal and had Pasteis de Nata and that these were just as delicious. A couple of weeks before I made these, I went to Nandos with a friend and had one of their Pasteis de Nata. I am very pleased to say that these are far better than the ones in Nandos – don’t take my word for it, try them yourself!
If you manage to control yourself and not eat all twelve at once, store the in an airtight box. Heat them for approximately 20 seconds before you want to eat them, it definitely makes a difference and they will be as delicious as when they were warm from the oven.
320g pre-rolled all-butter pastry
3 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
200ml single cream
250ml whole milk
½ vanilla pod
Spray oil for greasing
Icing sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Grease a 12 hole muffin tray and put in the freezer
- Take the pre-rolled pastry straight from the fridge and dust with icing sugar. Roll along the longest side into a tight log and cut into 12 sections
- Dust each section with icing sugar and roll flat until it is roughly 11cm across. Push each round into the muffin tray, it doesn’t have to be flat around the edges as they are meant to have folds in the pastry. Put the tray in the fridge
- Whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar until creamy. Mix the cornflour with a splash of milk and then whisk into the egg yolks. This looks exactly like something we used to play with as a child, its a liquid until touched and then it turns solid. You’ll know what I mean when you get to this stage!
- Heat the cream and milk together in a pan along with half a vanilla pod with the seeds scraped out, until almost boiling
- Remove from the heat and fish out the vanilla pod, then whisk slowly into the yolks
- Pour the mixture back into the pan and heat gently for three minutes, stirring continuously
- Pour into the pastry cases and bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and dark spots appear on the custard
- Allow to cool slightly before removing from the tin. Best eaten warm
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