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Portuguese Custard Tarts

These can be a bit fiddly to make but those who love these tarts may just want to give it a go - they are addictive and people have been known to trek far and wide to find the best bakers of this gem. Friends have even met weekly in a Portuguese part of London - Golborne Road - for a regular morning fix with a coffee on a Sunday morning.

"The best"- Yolanda Derham.

Pictured: Portuguese Custard Tarts

3 egg yolks
½ cup (110g) caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
¾ cup (180ml) carton cream
½ cup (125ml) water
½ tsp lemon oil, or a large strip lemon zest
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 sheet ready-rolled butter puff pastry
Cinnamon for dusting

Preheat the oven to hot, 230°C, and grease a 12-hole standard muffin pan – for smaller tarts use a muffin pan with a 1/3 cup capacity.

Prepare and measure custard ingredients.
Cut the pastry sheet in half. Remove the plastic and stack the two halves on top of each other. Stand about five minutes or until thawed.
While pastry is thawing, make the custard - place the sugar, egg yolks and cornflour in a medium saucepan and with a balloon whisk, stir until combined - the flour will help stablilise the custard at the high temp cooking without curdling, while giving enough time to brown the pastry.
Whisk in the cream, water and lemon oil until smooth, and stir over a medium heat until the mixture just comes to the boil – the custard will instantly thicken as it reaches boiling point so make sure to stay by the stove whisking to ensure the smoothness of the custard – this will only take a few minutes – and remove from the heat immediately; remove rind if using, and stir in the vanilla essence.
Roll the pastry up tightly from the short side then cut the log into 12, making approx. 1cm thick rounds.
Lay each round of pastry, cut side up, on a lightly floured board and roll each round out to about 10cm. You want the pastry very thin; therefore discard any extra to fit the pan size you have.

Pictured: cutting puff pastry round for Portuguese Custard Tarts

Press rounds into the prepared muffin pans with your fingers. Spoon the custard into the pastry cases, leaving about ½ cm below the rim of the pastry as the custard can bubble over. If you have left over custard due to smaller size pans, do not over fill but make more tarts.

Place the tarts on the top shelf of oven at the back – you are trying to place it in a hot spot to brown the pastry and give the custard a few spots of brown.
Bake for about 8 - 10 minutes – they may mushroom a little while cooking which is normal, but be careful not to overcook the custard – it is better to have slightly undercooked pastry than curdled custard.
After 10 minutes, if there is no browning on the top, place directly under a hot grill for 20 seconds or use a kitchen blow torch – can sprinkle with sugar before grilling to caramelize the top further.
Let sit in pans a few minutes to cool, and then transfer to a wire rack to settle and cool further. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and serve warm or on same day as cooking.

Not suitable to freeze or microwave.

Makes 12