Thursday, April 14, 2011

Portugese Custard Tarts

BEWARE: high calorie food deliciousness ahead. Those of you wanting to fit into sample sizes look away now. Those of you who embrace a bit of double cream revel in the wanton yumminess. I love Portugese custard tarts, I love everything about them. I love their buttery puff pastry, I love their sweet creaminess, I love their soft custard centres. I'm generally rather ambivalent to French custard tarts (short, flat, uniform, shortcrust pastry, set custard) but these soft, gooey, crumbly affairs are a whole different matter. I was inspired to make them after a particularly delicious example sampled at Zazu's Kitchen at the end of term. An excellent brunch treat! If you are in Bristol you should go, it is lovely. Anyway, after admiring different incarnations of these tarts I thought I would give them a go myself.

And they turned out really well! They're a bit scruffy around the edges but that was the look I was going for - I don't think they should be neat. These are little morsels of goodness that you eat with your fingers. Also, the custard sunk a bit and I didn't have quite enough of it. I would possibly recommend using a cupcake tray as opposed to a muffin tray so your tarts aren't quite as deep as mine. Generally though, mega thumbs up - sweet, creamy, crumbly.

For the recipe I used a combination of the BBC version for technique and the Jamie Oliver cheat version for flavour. Jamie just whacks in an uncooked yoghurty filling which I might try in future but I wanted to make the original proper custard versions first time round.

Ingredients: (Makes 12)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ~ 167g golden caster sugar (numbers look a bit messy because I increased the original quantity)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ~ 273 ml milk (not skimmed)
  • 300 ml double cream
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • zest of 1 clementine/satsuma/orange/whatever you can get hold of...
  • 400g puff pastry (shop bought)
  • butter for greasing
  • plain flour and icing sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat your oven to 180oC. Grease your cupcake/muffin tray.
  2. Heat your yolks and sugar (with a pinch of flour if you feel the need) over a low-medium heat. Don't worry if it looks a bit solid/scrappy to start with, it will become surprisingly smooth and liquid-y. Stir continuously until the mixture begins to thicken.
  3. Add the vanilla. Gradually whisk in the cream and milk. Grate in your zest. Keep whisking continuously. The custard should be slowly thickening.
  4. Bring to the boil - more of the continuous stirring. Traditionally you should be able to draw a clear line over the back of your custardy spoon to check that it is cooked.
  5. Remove from the heat, put somewhere safe to cool. Strange BBC tip - cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming. I tried this, it does work but I'm not sure it is worth it. Since you are going to be in the kitchen anyway I would just stir it occasionally.
  6. Roll out your pastry on a dusted board. Dust the pastry with a little pinch of cinnamon. Divide the pastry in two, placing one piece on top of the other. Roll this double layered pastry up like a Swiss roll. Cut into twelve slices.
  7. Roll these slices, spiral up, into round, flat discs about 10cm wide. Press these discs into your muffin tray. Pour in the custard - I sieved mine to make sure it was smooth but that is probably unnecessary, I was just being a tad OCD.
  8. Bake for 18-20 mins, until lovely and golden. I think mine took a bit longer because of their depth.
  9. Do try and let them cool down at least a bit because they are better cooler. They're also excellent cold the next day *munch munch munch*...
There are lots of recipes around, you can fiddle about with them, but definitely do give these a try because they are so good! I'll definitely be making them again. They're also pretty straightforward to make as long as you give the custard the full attention it desires. I love you Portugese custard tarts.

Chuck x


  1. Oh god, I'm going to be dreaming of these at work.

  2. These look supremely delicious. Yum.

  3. They look and sound so nice.

  4. They look SO good! On my "to bake" list!

  5. Dear Chuck, I haven't baked since school but we're going to a wedding in Bristol soon so I shall try them at Zasu's Kitchen, they look amazing! xx