Pasteis de Nata, or Portuguese custard tarts

Food & drink
Pasteis de Nata, or Portuguese custard tarts post image

The method is simple. Roll a block of puff pastry out to about 3mm in thickness, and cut circles of pastry out that fit snugly when pressed into the holes of a well greased muffin tin. The filling is a simple custard of four egg yolks beaten with 75g of sugar until pale, with 150ml of single cream drizzled in slowly and mixed to incorporate.

The custard needs cooking through very gently on a low flame until it starts to thicken. It’s best to transfer the mixture to a jug with a good pouring spout before filling up each of the pastry cases and sliding the tray into the ferocious heat.

Cooking times are up to you, and depend very much on the nature of your oven. As a guide, if you do this in a normal oven turned up to the very top, you’d be looking at 12 to 15 minutes, perhaps a little longer. In a wood stove, a little less time is needed, plus the tray will need turning a few times because the heat will be less even.

The key aim here is to set the custard and brown it in patches across the top. Watch it like a hawk – the edges of the pastry can singe very easily, although I kinda like that.

This recipe is based on the pastis de nata recipe in Edite Vierira’s excellent The Taste of Portugal.