Portuguese pasteis de nata is the most known Portuguese dessert and for a good reason. They are delicious mini tart filled with velvety custard.
You can’t say that you visited Portugal, especially Lisbon, if you never ate a couple of “pasteis de nata” or “pasteis de Belém” with a cup of coffee.
This dessert is part of the gastronomy legacy of Portugal. The recipe was developed by the monks of the “Monasterio dos Jerónimos” in the XVIII century. The recipe hasn’t changed a bit through the years.
My earliest memory of this sweet Portuguese specialty was the first day that I stepped on Portuguese soil. My boyfriend and I left the baggage on my cousin’s apartment and jumped ahead to visit the lovely Lisbon.
We ended up at the Belém district -slightly outside of Lisbon- and there we saw the emblematic “Pastéis de Belém” bakery shop.
These small custard tarts have a velvety and rich filler cream that reminds a classical custard cream but so much lighter and with a lemony touch.
I could eat a bunch of them with a big cup of coffee watching the Tejo river any day.
One of my first tasks as a food lover and first-timer in this beautiful country was to learn how to make these delicious small tarts.
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How to make Portuguese pasteis de nata?
The first thing is to find a good quality pre-made puff pastry. If you have the time you can make puff pastry by scratch. For me, it doesn’t make a big difference and I’m all in for time saver tips.
A good puff pastry will give you a nice crunch and it will hold the custard during the baking process
Now, the MOST important part if this recipe: the custard.
This Portuguese custar (that is usually used in other desserts. It’s made from whipping cream (high in fat) and egg yolks. The rest is sugar and lemon zest.
The custard must be cooked over low heat. This way the egg yolks won’t cook too fast creating clumps.
I really hope you enjoy this classic recipe of Portugal 🙂
More Portuguese recipes:
The worldwide famous Portuguese dessert. The combination of a crusty outside and a creamy inside.
- 250 gr sweet puff pastry
- 8 egg yolks
- 500 ml Whipping cream 35% percent fat
- 200 gr granulated sugar
- 2 tsp flour
- 1 Lemon zest
- Cinnamon (optional)
- powdered sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 220º.
Extend the puff pastry and cut circles about 3 inches diameter. Place the circles at the bottom of a nonstick cupcake pan. Take the tray to the refrigerator while you make the filler of the tarts.
To start the filler cream, add the whipping cream into a big pot and mix until there aren’t any lumps of cream. Add the sugar, the yolks, the flour, and the lemon zest and mix until the sugar is dissolved.
Bring the pot to the stove at medium heat. Stir incessantly until the mix is thick (note 1). Remove from the stove and let it chill (note 3)
Now fill the cupcake forms with the cream and take to the oven for 15 – 20 minutes. (note 2)
Let them chill and sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
- Sometimes the filler cream is so thick that even when you stir it well you will still see a few lumps of cream. If that happens you can use a strainer to fix it. The final texture of this cream must be velvety and smooth.
- The brown finish depends on your preferences. Here in Portugal they like to let the custard tart bake a little bit more until the surface is brown with small black spots. For my personal taste I avoid the black spots and the slightly burned taste.
- Remember than the filler is made of egg yolks. This mean that you have to be extra careful with the mix and stir a lot to avoid burning it at the bottom of the pan.