My first long-term boyfriend was Portuguese and he introduced me to Pasteis de Nata. Incidentally, it’s his birthday today. A creamy custard centre surrounded by a flaky pastry, these Portuguese custard tarts are divine. Whenever I’m in a Portuguese bakery, I get one as a treat. However, I’ve never tried to bake them myself. They are particularly hard to make perfectly, despite the simple ingredients.
History of Pasteis de Nata from algarvebuzz.com:
“The original recipe for Pasteis de Nata were invented by two Catholic sisters in the convent at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and called Pasteis de Belem, since then the secret recipe has been heavily guarded. Around 1837, clerics from the monetary, set up Casa Pastéis de Belém, the first shop to sell the pasteis, in order to raise money for the monastery that took centuries to build and today is an UNESCO heritage site. At the time the monetary and shop were easily accessible by ship, allowing tourists to quickly become familiar with Pasteis de Belem, and the news spread quickly.
Today, Pasteis de Belem are more commonly known around the country as Pasteis de Nata, and only the original Pasteis de Belem carry the name. The original shop also remains standing today and the Pasteis de Belem are still said to be the best. “
(More history if you are interested here in an article from The Christian Science Monitor.)
The recipe I used had a little too much cornstarch, I think, and too much pastry. I should have also cooked them a little longer. I will definitely be making these again, so I will know for next time. But generally super tasty.
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 1 cup white sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C.) Lightly grease 12 muffin cups and line bottom and sides with puff pastry.
- In a saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch, sugar and vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Place egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture into egg yolks. Gradually add egg yolk mixture back to remaining milk mixture, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, or until thickened. Remove vanilla bean.
- Fill pastry-lined muffin cups with mixture and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is lightly browned on top
Australian Kangaroo, mate!