I'm proud to announce that this is an original recipe by yours truly, although it was the largely the result of lack of ingredients that led me here. I did look at several recipes for Cantonese egg tarts online, and I found that many of them required evaporated milk, which I didn't have. So like how I did for my blueberry cream cheese tarts, since I saw that the purpose of evaporated milk was to thicken the custard, I decided to substitute it with heavy cream which I had on hand (about 30-48% fat content is fine). I also note that Duncan has a similar recipe here, but he uses flour and milk to thicken the custard instead. I actually have a lot of what I term 'original recipes' - since I like to brainstorm a lot and I tend to cook and bake by feeling (I know it's quite blasphemous for pastry making but I'm quite guilty of making cakes and breads without proper measuring instruments and they've turned out pretty well) and I'm finally confident enough to put this recipe up, mainly because I've made these tarts many many many times and each time my mom literally BEAMS from ear to ear because she says that these are the best things to come out of my oven and the best tart she's eaten :D But of course, she hasn't tasted the wonders which is Pastél de Belem - which is truly amazing I tell you but like I said, sans the crust, this is pretty close to the real deal!
Recipe for Portuguese Egg Tarts
For the crust20g egg yolks (or 1 egg yolk equivalent)
For the custard filling
For the custard filling
10g castor sugar
20g heavy cream
Preparing the tart crusts. If preparing from frozen tart dough, thaw the dough until malleable, before pressing the dough into the tart moulds. Once done, place the tart moulds into the fridge while preparing the filling.
Preparing the custard filling. Making sure that all ingredients are at room temperature, add the sugar into
the egg yolks and mix well with a fork. Add in the heavy cream and milk and mix well.
Making the tarts. Pour the filling into each tart pan, making sure each is about 80% or 90% full.
Bake the tarts in a 170 degrees preheated oven for about 12 minutes for the smaller tarts and 15-20 minutes for the larger tarts. Once the custard starts to brown, the tarts are done.
- Taste: If you are fond of an eggy-tasting tart, do follow the recipe to a T! If you are not particularly fond of the eggy taste, do add some vanilla extract to the mixture (up to 1 tsp per 80ml of milk) - it'll help mask the eggy taste a bit.
- Texture: If you want a smooth textured custard, do take the time to strain the filling before filling up the tarts. Alternatively, you can use a hand blender to mix up the ingredients if you so prefer.
- Serving size: Note that for the amounts I've stated above, it is only enough to make 2 large tarts that you see in the first picture above, so do double or triple or quadruple the recipe to meet your needs. If you quadruple the recipe, it'll be enough to make about 10 large 6-cm wide tarts.
- Modifications: Note that the sugar amounts are quite low in my recipe, so if you like a sweeter tart, you can double the sugar amounts and it'll still be okay. Also, if you are not particularly fond of a wrinkly texture (the Belem tarts are wrinkly - gives it that rustic feel), do pre-bake the tarts first and then lower the temperature to continue baking the egg custard - just like how I did my blueberry cream cheese tarts (but with a lower temperature!).
- Storage: These tarts taste the best on the day they are baked. Store in an airtight container for a maximum of 2 days, unrefrigerated. I have kept it in the fridge for a maximum of a week, giving it a quick zap in the microwave or in the toaster oven to heat it up again and it tastes almost as good as a freshly baked one.
- Would I make this again? Definitely - in my mother's words, these are my 拿手好饼 =D
I've been very intrigued about the chemistry behind cooking and baking, from a really young age, but what I particularly remember is a number of lessons I had during my JC times. I was doing Chemistry for my As, and my option topic for the paper was naturally, food chemistry, and my awesome chemistry teacher actually played a video of Nigella Lawson, the domestic goddess, pottering around her kitchen baking. I don't remember what dish she was doing, but I vividly remember what my teacher wanted to illustrate - the Maillard reaction, which is basically a browning process when heat is introduced to a food. Of course this was translated into a reaction between the carbonyl ground of the sugar and the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acids (I don't actually remember this chemistry portion, it's from my good friend Wiki), but it just goes to illustrate how important teachers and teaching methods are to your learning, doesn't it?
Anyway, the point of talking about the food chemistry portion is that understanding the purposes of why certain ingredients are being used or certain techniques being done are key to better baking, in my opinion. This is the reason why I like this recipe, because it represents how far along I've come in baking - putting together ingredients based on an understanding of what I want and a vision of the end product. This is also the reason why I've written down the recipe down as such, for it to act as a ratio for those who are courageous enough to try the recipe. I doubt you can make any less than what I've stated, and it's multiplied easily - I've baked quadruple the recipe and the end product is still fine. And the exciting thing about food chemistry I think, is the flexibility you have. For instance, I can foresee a time when I might not have cream available, so this can be easily substituted with evaporated milk, or even butter (in smaller amounts) with additions of cornstarch or even more egg yolk! This is the reason why I love baking so much - following recipes and replicating masterful creations is one thing, but what I love best is the ability to create your own - to channel your own creative juices into making a masterpiece you can call your own.
What usually happens is - I get a craving to eat egg tarts - so I head to my freezer to thaw my pie dough (sometimes I freeze the dough in the tartlet pans themselves, which speeds up the process even more), while making the filling at the same time. The 20g portion is sufficient to make myself 6 mini tartlets, just for your information :] Preheat the oven in the meantime, and press the thawed dough into the pans, fill them up about 80% full, and they're ready to be popped into the oven. After about 10-15 minutes, they're done and after cooling for a little while, they're ready to be eaten :] The whole process takes probably 30-45 minutes MAX, which is probably equivalent to the time that is required for me to drive out to get a good egg tart to satisfy the craving. The pictures below are two separate occasions when I decided to make large and mini egg tarts.
A failed attempt at a styled shot :/ Just look at those horrible shadows!!
You can bake it rustically - by placing the pie dough into a muffin pan like I did for occasion #1, or you can use proper tart pans - large or small. Do try this recipe should you have an egg-tart craving one day! And let me know how the recipe goes! ;p