Saturday, April 12, 2008

Queen of Tarts...yeah baby!

I have made custard tarts, or Pasteis de Nata, three times so far and each time I've been struck at how deceptively simple they are to make and how much of a hit they are with my friends, so I decided to spread the good word and share the recipe with the blogosphere. I first tasted these little wonders at a portuguese bakery in Sydney, Sweet Belem, and I think the reaction I had to these was the same sort of thing Homer experienced when he bit into his first Ribwich. Given that regular access to these things involves a 7 hr return trip to and from Sydney, I needed to find a better way, so I was pretty chuffed to find an online recipe that was relatively simple, tasted very much like the tart(s) I sampled in Sydney, not to mention had plenty of helpful step-by-step photos. The link can be found here and here's my interpretation of it:

Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tart)

1 pack of defrosted puff pastry
2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of cream
4 egg yolks
4 tbs sugar
2 tbs plain flour
pinch of salt
1 cinnamon quill
2 strips of lemon peel
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. To make the custard, add all the ingredients except the cinnamon and lemon peel (and of course the puff pastry) into a saucepan and whisk them together. Add the cinnamon and lemon peel and place on a stovetop to simmer.
2. Keep whisking the custard at a low temperature (don't be tempted to turn the heat up otherwise its likely to curdle) and keep a watch for when it starts to thicken. When its thickened to your accustomed custard standard, take the saucepan off the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool down (take out the cinnamon & lemon peel). Line a piece of either cling wrap or baking paper over the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming and leave aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 190oC. Take a square sheet of puff pastry and lightly dust with flour before rolling it into a cylindrical shape. Cut the puff pastry cylinder into equally sized segments - I got 12 segments out of my puff pastry sheet. Take each segment and flatten it with your hand, then roll it out using a rolling pin to get a circular piece of pastry (approx 10 cm diameter). 4. Line a muffin tin with the pastry, shaping it into tart form and fill the tart shells with the custard. I sprinkled the top with a bit of cinnamon & sugar (though you may opt not to do that) before chucking the tray into the oven to bake until golden.

The only modifications I made to the recipe were to bake at a higher temperature (190C) than that recommended by the Algarve Buzz website (120C). Other than that the recipe is foolproof and the combination of these simple & basic ingredients yields very high dividends, so do yourselves a favour and try today!


  1. Wow, I've been saying I want to make Portugese tarts too. But they look so difficult. Also, people keep saying that the secret is in the pastry and you have to make your own.

    Maybe I will give these short cut ones with the store bought pastry a go. Thanks for spreading the word Serenity.

  2. Thanh you should definitely give them a go even with the store bought puff pastry - its so worth the effort. Though i would agree that the pastry is the taste limiting factor in these tarts, but only if there are leftovers the next day because the pastry gets that soggy texture you normally get when you refrigerate puff pastry. I doubt though you would have any leftovers remaining for that to be a major problem :)

  3. So glad you posted this recipe- will have to try and make them too!

    Definitely worth sharing short cuts when the end result is something as attractive and irresistible as these tarts!

  4. YUM. Just today I gave a friend the address of the famous Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon as she is travelling to Portugal in a few months.

  5. oh! kool, i've been hoping that you would post abt these. ever since m's showed me a pic of your tarts ;)

    can't wait to try this recipe, thanks heaps serenity!

    also, thanks for the tip of Sweet Belem, will have to try one next time in syd-er-neyyy!

  6. They just look adorable. My Chopper has a custard obsession and I know he would adore things. Great post.

  7. Ok now that should say (adore these)sorry.

  8. Fantastic, they look delicious & if they're simple so much the better

  9. Yum... Looks great Serenity! Foolproof? I like the sound of that!

  10. These tarts look amazing! I don't know how simple they are to make, but I'll definitely have to give it a try!

    We would like to feature your tarts on our blog and possibly our digital recipe reader. If interested email



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