CK has been back in Sydney for less than a week, and already, we have a long list of new places to eat the next time I visit. Ever since I started my blog, he has been more aware of the food surrounding him, and he calls me up daily telling me of cool new restaurants/markets that he saw or passed by. I'm definitely looking forward to my next trip there.
One thing we recently talked about was the pastel de nata, a Portuguese custard tart. Ever since our first experience with pasteis de nata 2 months ago, CK has been noticing them everywhere, and most recently in Sydney.
A few Aussie blogs have posted Bill Granger's version of this sweet Portuguese pastry, and with Bill being one of my favorite Syndey chefs, I had to try out his recipe for myself. If you ever get a chance to visit Sydney, you must check out Bills for their creamy, delicate scrambled eggs for breakfast. They are to die for, and are totally worth the money. You'll know what I mean when you try them.
A pastel de nata made well will have burn spots on the surface of the custard. This is not easy to achieve at home, and these pastries are generally tricky to make because custard is best cooked at low temperatures while puff pastry is best cooked at high temperatures. The trick is to find the right balance, and you need to play around with your oven settings to find that perfect temperature.
There is one ultimate place in the world to go for these sweet delights, and that is at Antiga Confeitaria de Belem in Portugal. They even have their own name for the pastries: pasteis de belém. Everyone in Portugal will know of this Confeitaria, and apparently, their recipe is kept top secret.
The recipe below, however, is not a secret, and I invite you to try it for yourself.
This recipe makes 12 pastries.
Pastéis de Nata
Adapted from Bill Granger and Not Quite Nigella
- 3 egg yolks
- 115g caster sugar
- 230ml Cream (I used 35% whipping cream)
- 170ml milk
- 2 Tbsp cornflour
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- one sheet of puff pastry
1. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a pot. Gradually whisk in the cream and milk until smooth.
2. Place the pot over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Transfer the custard to a bowl, and cover the bowl with saran wrap to prevent a skin from forming and leave to cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
4. 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 the pastry log into 12 x 1cm rounds. Lay each pastry round on a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll out until each is about 3 inches in diameter.
5. Press the pastry rounds into the 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.
- I know my pasteis de nata are not the prettiest, but the taste was excellent. I think the custard was a bit overcooked, and I'm now determined to keep trying until those burn marks appear on the surface. The custard was soft and gooey when it first came out of the oven, but as soon as it cooled, the custard hardened and wasn't as good as when they first came out of the oven. That, unfortunately, did not stop me from eating all of them.
- I baked the pastries for 25 minutes because I thought the pasteis de nata would naturally develop that torched creme brulee look if you baked it for long enough. Silly me. I should have probably baked them for only 20 minutes.
- The original recipe calls for a bit more puff pastry than one sheet, so if you like more tart in your pasteis de nata, use more puff pastry.
***[Updated April 8 '09] I finally was able to get a burn spot on the surface of the custard (see pic below). It's a small little spot, but hey, it's still a burn spot! I baked my pastries at 450F for 18 minutes and then grilled them for 2 minutes. The heat was just a tad too high because the edges of the puff pastry burned. I also did not whisk the custard too hard because I read somewhere that it causes the custard to rise high during baking, and then sink low when cooling. I think it did make a difference. I will keep trying and post my improvements.***
Small burn spot on pastel de nata - April 8 '09
Hungry for more sweets, check out these other delicious recipes:
Alfajores: shortbread with dulce de leche
Lazy lemon cookies
Healthy orange and nut date cups