Sunday, November 09, 2008

Portuguese Custard Tarts

I have always loved Portuguese Custard Tarts. I think I first tasted a Portuguese custard tart on my holiday in Hong Kong. When I got back to Melbourne, I managed to find them on sale at Carrington Cake Shop in Box Hill. But they only sold them on Saturdays and even then they only made two trays. Hence you had to be extremely early and I like to sleep in on Saturdays.

When Duncan from Syrup and Tang said that he was developing a recipe, I asked him if he could email it to me when he was done. He did so and I've made them twice already. Duncan has since posted the recipe, so you can go find it here.

So here are my lovely tarts.

Here's some observations and tips.

* The custard with the lemon and cinnamon flavouring is really nice. The texture of the custard also turned out well if you don't overcook it.

* Don't sacrifice taste for the sake of looks. I tried to get those nice brown spots the first time and in doing so, burnt a lot of the pastry and also curdled the custard.

* Using two muffin pans stacked on top of each other gave a really good result with no burnt pastry bases. The burnt parts you can see in the photo above is when I spilt custard mixture on the pastry. Be very careful when pouring in the custard mixture into the pastry. If you spill some, it will burn and also cause the pastry to stick to the muffin pan.

* When pressing the pastry into the muffin pans, make sure to really flatten out the pastry on the base. An air pockets created between the pastry and the pan will cause the puff to really rise and push all the custard up and out, spilling the custard over the sides so your tarts look like Quasimodo.

* Don't overfill your pastry with custard mixture. Overfilling will cause the tarts to again look like Quasimodo.

* I used store bought pastry and it's not bad. But it's definitely not as flaky as the tarts that I have tasted before. I'm too lazy to make my own puff, so will continue to use the store bought stuff. It still tastes very good, but if you want excellent, make your own puff pastry.

* I turned the oven to 250C (as high as it will go) with no fan and place the tarts to bake in the top shelf. I found that 15 minutes was about right to get it to the state that you see above. I could probably bake them a bit longer to get a slightly crisper pastry and firmer custard.

So what are you waiting for. Get cracking and make these tarts. They're delicious and quite easy (if you buy the puff pastry). Then you can satisfy your Portuguese Custard Tart cravings and eat as many as you like.


  1. Thanh, I truly don't know what I'm waiting for! I admired Duncan's version and these look great too.

    Perhaps I'm waiting for an opportunity to share the proceeds - keeping a whole batch to myself could be harmful to my health. :-)

    Your extra tips are most useful, I'm filing them away!

  2. Cmon cindy, if I'm willing to give them a try, you surely can do it.

    If you're brave, you should attempt the full version and make the pastry too. I might do that one lazy Sunday too and see what the results taste like.

    Making a whole batch is harmful for one's health, so imagine if you make a triple batch like I did. I've already chewed my way through 6 of them since yesterday. They are so yum yum yummy. They taste best when you give them a quick reheat in the oven for a few minutes and they're crisp and warm.

  3. Hey Thanh, they look really pretty, and delicious too. My only observation would be that the pastry might have been slightly too thick (and in the new version of the recipe I've reduced how much pastry per tart so that the shells are thinner). Your tip about doubling the muffin pans is a good idea for people with lots of heat underneath the tray. The other thing to try would be to stack two baking sheets.

  4. Thanks heaps for the tips, Thanh. I've been craving a custard tart ever since I read Duncan was working on them. This is something I think I'll try this weekend :)

  5. Duncan, the thickness of the pastry from the packet was good. With the cut offs which I re-rolled, I rolled it way too thick and it was awful. It didn't cook and I had to throw out the 6 I made using the re-rolled pastry.

    I found that using two muffin pans meant the pastry didn't burn before the custard was ready.

    Maffy, I'm sure you'll be able to get the hang of these and churn out some delicious tarts. Let me know how you go and if you find any more tips that may be useful to me.

  6. I'm impressed! They look good. I'm worried that I now know how to make them though; this could potentially turn me into a fat bastard with egg custard running through my arteries.

    I haven't been to Portugal, but the tarts I tried in Macau were absolutely incredible. I've got a photo and write up of them here:

  7. Christopher, I have the same dilemma all the time ever since I started baking. I eat way too much fatty cakes now. But how can you resist a custard egg tart.

    The Macau version (and even the Hong Kong version) is very good indeed. I doubt that it could get much better.

    I saw on your blog that you also visited Lantau Island and those rock statues. I liked how you were doing kung fu there, very funny indeed. When I was there, it was a really clear day and you could see so far up on the mountain. I think we must have done a similar holiday since I did Malaysia, Singapore, Macau and Hong Kong as well.

  8. They look really good. I saw them on Duncan's blog. Well done! you are braver than I.

  9. Thanks Squishy. These tarts are so tasty and wasn't as hard to make as I thought they would be. You should give them a try.

  10. Another good source of Portuguese tarts in Melbourne is Casa Iberica in Johnston Street Fitzroy. They specialise in all things Portuguese, Spanish and Latin American. Check it out.

  11. Christopher, I heard the Casa Iberica do Portuguese tarts too. I went there one day just to buy them (I live out in the South Eastern suburbs so it was a long way) but got there too late and they were all gone. I still bought lots of goodies from there. I will go back and get those tarts one day.