Easy to make and beyond delicious, these little delights are great for breakfast, elevenses, afternoon tea – or any time of day at all, really
Portugese custard tarts (Pastéis de nata)
Butter, for greasing
110g caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
3 egg yolks
225ml double cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 sheet of ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry
Ground cinnamon, for dusting
Icing sugar, for dusting
1 Grease a 12-hole muffin tin (unless using a non-stick tin). In a saucepan, mix together the caster sugar, cornflour and egg yolks. Gradually add the cream and milk, whisking until smoothish. Don’t worry about lumps – they will whisk out.
2 Stir over a medium heat until the mixture becomes very thick and, just before it comes to the boil, stop whisking, remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract and tip into a bowl.
3 Cover with cling film directly on the custard to prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool.
4 Preheat oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6. Unroll the pastry with the long edge closest to you (landscape format), dust with a little cinnamon and cut in half vertically. Put one piece on top of the other and, starting from the bottom (shortest) edge, tightly roll up the pastry pieces into a sausage shape.
5 Slice into 12 evenly sized discs. Use a rolling pin or your fingers to flatten out the discs into thin circles. Press into a muffin tin and spoon in the cold custard.
6 Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 mins until the pastry is golden and the custard is puffed up, bubbling and golden in parts. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins (they will shrink down as they cool) before removing. Caramelise the tops with a cook’s blowtorch if they’re not as browned as you’d like. Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not!
7 Serve either warm or at room temperature with a last-minute dusting of icing sugar and ground cinnamon.
Cook’s note: Get ahead by making the custard (in steps 1, 2 and 3) up to three days ahead and keeping in the fridge. You can prepare as far as the end of step 5 any time on the day of baking. The tarts can also be baked several days ahead and eaten warmed through or simply served at room temperature.
Recipe from The Get-Ahead Cook by Jane Lovett (Apicius Publishing)
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