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The New Kitchen Cookbook

Pastéis de Nata

I bought a mini-muffin tin a while back for the sole purpose of making pastéis de nata, a Portuguese egg custard tart that I used to eat in Lisbon. In the meantime many mini-muffins have been baked in it, but on account of a brunch followed by back-to-back holiday parties this weekend it finally achieved its true purpose. The tin is non-non-stick, but there’s enough butter in this recipe to release a horse.

I mostly followed this recipe from Leite’s Culinaria, with some passing reference to this Food.com recipe and this blind-baked version.

I blind-baked half the batch, but I found the shells shrank in the process, leaving me extra custard at the end. (You can just bake it at 450°F for ten minutes or so until it gets brown spots.) The process was also longer and more of a pain, so I recommend the sighted-baking method.

Makes 40, best eaten fresh.

Ingredients

Pastry

Custard

Tarts

Directions

Pastry

  1. Mix pastry ingredients except for butter. If not using a dough hook, then knead it until it’s smoother.
  2. Flatten on a floured pastry board into a 6" square.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 15 minutes.
  4. Roll out to an 18" square and brush off any excess flour.
  5. Spread 1/3 of the butter out on 2/3 of the square.
  6. Fold in thirds, unbuttered third first, brushing off any excess flour.
  7. Roll out to 18" again, butter with another third of the butter, and fold again.
  8. Roll out to 18"x21" (about the size of a pastry board) and brush off.
  9. Spread remaining butter over the entire surface.
  10. Roll up from the short side.
  11. Cut in two, wrap in plastic, and chill 2 hours or overnight.

Custard

  1. Whisk flour and ¼ c. milk in a bowl.
  2. Mix water, sugar and cinnamon stick in a small pot. Use a candy thermometer to bring it to 220°F.
  3. In another pot, scald the remaining 1 c. milk, then mix in the floury milk.
  4. Remove cinnamon stick from syrup and pour it very slowly into the milk mixture, whisking constantly. (It helps to have an assistant.)
  5. Whisk in vanilla.
  6. Let cool somewhat, then whisk in the yolks.
  7. Optionally, strain. (I forgot this step and nothing seemed to go wrong.)
  8. Cover (and optionally chill) until the pastry is ready.

Tarts

  1. Preheat oven to 550°F.
  2. Optionally roll out the first chilled roll to about 16" long.
  3. Slice into about 20 round pieces, preferably using a string. Let rest briefly.
  4. Optionally, roll out each piece into mini-muffin-tin sized rounds and place into the pan. (Otherwise, place the pieces in the wells of the mini-muffin tin and press into shape with wet fingers.) Try to get a slight edge poking above the rim.
  5. Fill ¾ full with custard.
  6. Bake 9 minutes or so.
  7. Cool briefly in pan, then remove to a rack. Cool until warmish.
  8. Optionally, top with confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon.

You have three days to repeat the process with the other half of the ingredients.