Portugese custard tarts

Portugese custard tarts

Recipe by Paul Phillips

The 15th "best thing to eat in the world" according to the Daily Telegraph, Portugese custard tarts (pastel de nata) were created by catholic monks in the 17th Century. Use ready-rolled puff pastry and you can knock them up in no time - and you'll be glad to hear that they require very little skill (the ones pictured were made by my two-year old twins...).

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Yield: makes 10 tarts

Ingredients

  • butter for greasing
  • 150ml double cream
  • 250ml full fat milk
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla pod (seeds only)
  • 1/2 lemon, zest only (finely grated)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 300g all butter puff pastry

1. Grease 10 holes of a muffin tin with butter and dust with a little caster sugar. Refrigerate until needed.

2. Bring the cream, milk, cinnamon and vanilla to a boil in a saucepan, take off the heat and add the lemon zest. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl.

3. Add a third of the warm milk to the eggs and mix thoroughly. Stir in the remaining milk and return to a clean pan.

4. Whisk in the cornflour and gently bring to the boil, stirring continuously. The flour will thicken the custard. Pour the custard into a cold bowl and cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin from forming, when cool refrigerate until needed.

5. Preheat the oven to 210°C.

6. Cut the pastry sheet in half length ways and stack one piece on top of the other. Roll as tightly as possible from the short edge and cut into 1 cm rounds.

7. Roll out each pastry piece into a rough 10cm diameter circle, then press firmly into the muffin tin with your fingers.

8. Fill the pastry cases with the custard and bake for 20 minutes until puffed up and the pastry cooked. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.