Pastéis de Nata, Portuguese Egg Tarts

A shop in Santa Maria de Belém has sold these egg tarts since 1837. Their recipe is top-secret, but this easy-to-make variation is sure to please at home.
Photo By Con Poulos / Food Styling by Hadas Smirnof

These egg tarts, common throughout Portugal, are sometimes called pastéis de Belém, for a shop in the town of Santa Maria de Belém that’s sold them since 1837 using a top-secret monks’ recipe. The dough is a handmade cross between phyllo and puff pastry, but this version is much simpler and almost as good. Egg tart tins are available online, but a mini-muffin tin works as well. If your oven goes above 500°F, try to bake at 550°F for 8–10 minutes.

Four Fresh Takes on Portuguese Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 pound puff pastry
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 6 egg yolks
Directions

Roll puff pastry into thin 18-inch square. Roll up tightly, jellyroll-style. Cut into three pieces, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour. (At this stage, you can also refrigerate dough for 3 days, or freeze for 6 months.)

To prepare filling: In large heatproof bowl, whisk ½ cup milk with flour until smooth. Combine remaining milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon stick and lemon zest in saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Whisk gradually into flour mixture. Let stand until finger inserted into mixture can withstand heat. Whisk in yolks (custard will be very thin). Strain mixture into measuring cup with pour spout.

When ready to bake, roll dough with hands into logs of 1-inch diameter. Slice into ¾-inch pieces. Press into egg tart tins or mini-muffin pans. Dough should be as thin as possible without seeing the underlying metal. Discard extra. Add vent holes to dough with fork. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 500°F. Add custard to tins until three-quarters full. Bake until pastry is golden brown and filling is barely set, about 15 minutes. Cool on rack 10 minutes. Remove from tins and cool to room temperature on rack. Makes about 36 tartlets.

Pair It

Quinta do Noval NV Noval Tawny Reserve Port. This wine’s hints of tangy citrus, caramel and warm spice play with the lemon, vanilla and cinnamon flavors of the tart’s custard, while the trademark nuttiness of a tawny brings out the brown-butter flavors of the crust.

 

Published on September 22, 2017
About the Author
Nils Bernstein
Contributing Editor, Food

A fan of sweet wines, sour beers, and old-school Rioja, Bernstein is an exhaustive traveler in search of new and unsung chefs and restaurants, innovative wine and food pairings, and eating and drinking at the source. In addition to Wine Enthusiast, Bernstein has written for Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, New York Times, Men’s Fitness, Hemispheres, and Kinfolk, among others.

Email: nbernstein@wineenthusiast.net



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