Monday, October 12, 2009

Half Finished

portuguese tarts

I’m the kind of person who usually has several projects on the go at once, always flitting from one to another to keep from getting bored. But inevitably, I get distracted and often leave things half finished when I move on to the next new thing. It seems that I’m very good at planning, but not as good at actually executing all my ideas. Does this sound familiar? An example – over a year ago, we had the idea to cook a meal from a particular cuisine decided upon by closing my eyes and pointing randomly at a world map. Portugal was the lucky winner, and I threw myself into the research, fascinated by the culture. I had grand plans of making Feijoada, Broa Bread and Piri Piri chicken but I could never seem to motivate myself to take the plan to the next step.

Until I had tons of leftover puff pastry from the Daring Bakers challenge last month, and decided to finally try out a Portuguese recipe I had been wanting to try for all this time – Portuguese tarts, or Pastéis De Nata. A delicious egg custard tart that was believed to have been created by Portuguese monks in the 18th century as a way to use up egg yolks, since egg whites were used to starch the nuns’ habits.

They have long been a favourite of mine, though it can be hard to find a good one sometimes. I hear the best ones in Sydney are found at Sweet Belem in Petersham, but have yet to try them. I must say that my home-made ones were pretty spectacular, some of the best I’ve had. I really loved the creamy custard and the speckled caramelised surface with the buttery and flaky pastry. I added a teaspoon of cinnamon to the custard, although often it’s sprinkled on top. And so with dessert done, maybe one day, I’ll get around to a making a full Portuguese meal. One day…

Portuguese Tarts
Recipe adapted from Bill Granger
Makes 12

• 3 egg yolks
• 115g caster sugar
• 2 tablespoons cornflour
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 230ml cream
• 170ml milk
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 300g puff pastry, home made or store bought

1. Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin.
2. Put the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and cinnamon in a saucepan 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.
4. Transfer to a bowl, cover with cling wrap to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool.
5. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Cut the pastry dough 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 and cut into 12 x 1cm rounds. Lay each pastry round on a floured surface and roll out until each is 10cm in diameter.
6. Press the pastry rounds into the prepared 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.


Betty said...

Yum! These look fantastic! I'm exactly like you, I have a million things going at once and I'm really good at planning, and then I'll complain about having too much going on. Haha. I think it must be a gemini trait!

Suzana said...

How perfectly done! I've kept some of my puff pastry to make some pastéis de nata as well. Would just add a little cinnamon and a good espresso. ;)

Yas @ said...

looks awesome!
ugh I can never imagine myself making puff pastry, too much effort!

Now that you mentioned it, it's time for me to go back to Sweet Beleem for more tarts. *grin*

Amanda Nicole said...

I love foods that come with a background or story! These look divine, I love a good custard :)

Stephcookie said...

Oh drool, I love portuguese tarts. They do look spectacular indeed! Yup the Sweet Belem ones are the best I've had, I'll have to take you there sometime!

JenniS said...

Oo I fell in love with these at Portobello Markets in London, would love to try this recipe and see if it matches up with my memories.

Lisa said...

Betty, I'm terrible, I think it really must be a gemini thing! My dad's a gemini too but he and I are like polar opposites haha

Suzana, mmm these would go perfectly with an espresso!

Yas, oh save me one! It was quite a long process to make the pastry but I think it was worth the effort :)

Amanda Nicole, thanks!

Stephcookie, awesome, I can't wait to try them. My parents didn't even know what portuguese tarts were when I took them out of the oven haha

JenniS, I hope that it does!

Manggy said...

I LOVE these! I made them a while back from (your) fellow Aussie blogger Duncan's website and they were really good- I hope you give those a try too, his recipe has no precooking :)

Tangerina said...

Hi Lisa, I Love your blog and today I’m so glad to see here wonderful Pasteis de Nata :)
They are just perfect, congratulations!!

Ellie said...

Bill's portuguese tarts recipe is so far the best I have tried although I haven't use homemade puff pastry but I must agree Sweet Belem has the best!

Lisa said...

Mark, I like the idea of no precooking. I might just try the recipe, thanks for sharing!

Tangerina, glad you could stop by! thanks so much!

Ellie, I so have to try Sweet Belem now!


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