Diana's Desserts - www.dianasdesserts.com

Pastéis de Nata-Portuguese Egg Custard Tarts

Servings: Makes 12 tarts
About This Recipe
This recipe comes to us from David Leite of Leite's Culinaria (www.leitesculinaria.com). He has adapted the recipe from Deolinda Maria Avila's book "Foods of the Azores Islands".

He writes:
Make sure the pastry ingredients are well chilled and the custard ingredients are at room temperature. The pastry is partially baked before filling to eliminate an uncooked pastry layer that sometimes can result.

2 cups flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks/5 oz./141g) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
5 to 7 tablespoons ice water

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
6 egg yolks

Make The Pastry:
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the flour, salt and sugar to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the flour resembles coarse, uneven cornmeal, about 10 (1-second) pulses.

Drizzle 5 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. Pulse several times to work the water into the flour. Add the remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue pulsing until the mixture develops small curds. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, shape it into a disc and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll half the dough to 1/16-inch thickness. Cut out 6 (4 1/2-inch) circles. (If you don't have a cookie cutter, a wide-mouth jar works well.) Ease the dough circles into a 12-cup (4-ounce capacity) nonstick muffin tin, pressing out any overlapping folds. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place the tin in the freezer for 5 minutes. Remove and trim any overhang with the back of a knife so that the pastry cups are flush with the top of the tins. Line dough cups with cupcake papers and fill with dried beans or pastry weights. Bake at 350°F/180°C for 10 minutes to set.

Make The Custard
Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/4 cup of the cream in a medium bowl. Add the remaining cream and sugar, and stir until the mixture is smooth and the sugar dissolves. Check for sugar granules with a spoon; none should remain.

In a small bowl, blend the yolks with a fork until smooth. Add the yolks to the cream mixture, stirring gently to combine.

Ladle the egg mixture into the partially baked pastry cups, filling to 2/3 capacity. Bake at 350°F/180°C until the edges of the custard are puffed and middle is still jiggly, about 20 to 25 minutes. (The custard will continue to cook.) Cool completely in the tin. The pastéis are best when eaten the same day.

Makes 12 tarts.

David Leite, Leite's Culinaria (www.leitesculinaria.com).
David Leite has adapted the recipe from "Foods of the Azores Islands" by Deolinda Maria Avila (Self-published, 1977).

Date: May 7, 2003-Revised on July 10, 2006