Alongside tinned sardines and vinho verde, Portuguese custard tarts are about as quintessentially Portuguese as you can get. You’ll find them everywhere in Portugal (usually eaten for breakfast with an espresso coffee), and they’re so. damn. good.
On a recent trip to Portugal I asked a Lisbon local how to make these famous little tarts. He explained that nowadays most Portuguese people do it the quick way, with pre-made puff pastry and a simple custard filling. So here’s an express recipe for pasteis de nata.
INGREDIENTS (makes 12)
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 tbs cornflour
1 and 3/4 cups full-cream milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 strips of lemon zest
2 sheets puff pastry
First, lightly grease a muffin tray and preheat oven to almost as hot as it’ll go (between 200 and 250 degrees Celcius is good). 🔥
Whisk egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a saucepan until fully combined, then gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Add lemon zest. Cook over a medium heat, stirring the whole time, until the mixture thickens and starts to boil. Immediately remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so a skin doesn’t form. Leave to cool. (Take out the lemon zest when the mixture is cool enough 🍋).
When the puff pastry sheets have defrosted, sprinkle them generously with ground cinnamon. Roll each sheet tightly. Cut each pastry ‘log’ into 2cm rounds (should be 6 per log) and use two fingers to then flatten each gently. Press pastry rounds into the muffin tins (so they come up the edge and form a cup) and spoon in cooled custard.
Bake for 20 minutes or until pastry and custard are golden and crispy. Little burnt bits on top are good/authentic :)
Transfer to a wire rack to cool off a little, then enjoy with coffee ☕️
To get you in the mood for pasteis de nata, here are some of my pics from Portugal: