Portuguese Custard Tarts (Pastéis de nata)
You can’t say that you visited Portugal, especially Lisbon, if you never ate a “pastel de nata” or “pastel de Belém”.
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. This 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 a first timer in this beautiful country was to learn how to make this delicious small tarts.
So, let’s see the recipe that introduced me to the Portuguese gastronomy:
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
- 1 Lima zest (Portugueses use lemon zest, but my latin roots crave for lima)
- Cinnamon (optional)
- Glass sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 250º.
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 and the lima zest and mix until the sugar is dissolved.
Bring the pot to the stove at medium heat. Stir incessantly until the mix is thick. Remove from the stove and let it chill.
Now fill the cupcake forms with the cream and take to the oven for 15 minutes.
Let them chill and sprinkle with glass 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.
I really hope you enjoy this classical recipe of Portugal 🙂
Happy cooking 🙂