Portuguese Custard Tarts or Pasteis de Nata are a typical sweet treat from Portuguese cuisine that never fails to impress. They are simply delicious. The creamy and flavourful filling of cinnamon and lemon contrasting with the crispy puff pastry is incredible. It’s hard to stop at just one.
Pasteis de Nata hold a special place in Portuguese gastronomy, they are an icon and a symbol of Portuguese culinary heritage.
I absolutely love Portuguese custard tarts, they are undoubtedly one of my favourite pastries. However, living outside of Portugal, I had to find a way to recreate these little delights. This is my recipe, full of flavour and very easy to prepare.
Portuguese Custard Tarts: the heart and soul of Portuguese pastries
Portuguese custard tarts are much more than just an irresistible dessert. They are the heart and soul of Portuguese cuisine, representing a rich culinary tradition of the country. Each bite of this creamy and crispy delight is an explosion of flavours.
Portuguese custard tarts originated from the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon. It is believed that the original recipe was created by the monks of this monastery, who were excellent pastry chefs. Over the years, the recipe has been perfected, yet always kept secret, passed down through generations.
Today, Portuguese custard tarts are an iconic symbol of Portugal. They are known and loved worldwide. The crispy puff pastry and silky custard filling win over everyone’s taste buds.
A meeting in Denmark with Portuguese delights
A few weeks ago, during a gathering with friends, we decided to sit down and enjoy typical Portuguese recipes. Among them, the incredible octopus salad, which I have already shared the recipe for here. Another recipe I brought to the table was these delicious Portuguese custard tarts. Because we can also savour them outside of Portugal. I prepared a recipe that I usually make and it was a guaranteed success once again. Everyone loved them and kept coming back for more until the tray was empty.
The secrets of Portuguese custard tarts
While the original recipe remains a secret, there are many variations that have been refined over time, recreating these delightful pastries. Making Portuguese custards tarts may seem challenging and complicated at first. However, it is quite simple, as long as you follow a few secrets and rules. Only then will the custard be silky, flavourful, and the pastry perfectly layered and crispy.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
Being an ancient recipe originating from the monasteries, the base ingredients are typical of Portuguese conventual sweets, namely eggs and sugar. Then, we add a few ingredients to achieve the desired texture and flavour.
The ingredients are:
- Frozen puff pastry
- Egg yolks
- Cinnamon stick
Simple ingredients that come together to create the best representation of Portuguese pastries.
Tips & Suggestions for the best Portuguese custard tarts
As mentioned before, making Portuguese custard tarts has no secrets, but there are some rules that are important to follow in order to create divine custard tarts.
- As a first tip, it’s important for the puff pastry to be cold. It should be frozen and taken out of the freezer about 15 minutes before working with it.
- The pastry should be placed in the molds in a certain way to ensure it becomes layered and crispy when baked. After rolling out the pastry, roll it into a log. Cut slices about 1.5cm to 2cm wide. Place the puff pastry slice at the bottom of the muffin tin. Then, using your thumbs, press the pastry to make it rise in the tin.
- To make handling the puff pastry easier, it is recommended to use specific molds for Portuguese Custard Tarts. However, you can also use muffin tins, although the puff pastry may be harder to roll out. If you only have silicone molds, be patient as the dough can easily stick to the walls. The important thing is not to miss out on preparing these irresistible delights.
- Achieving the right sugar syrup consistency is another important trick. The water and sugar mixture should boil for 3 minutes and then be left to cool.
- The oven should be very hot to ensure the puff pastry becomes separated and crispy.
- If desired, you can freeze the assembled Pasteis de Nata before baking. When you want to bake them, simply place them in the preheated oven.
- If you prefer, you can make a large tart instead of small individual pastries.
Portuguese custard tarts are a highlight of Portuguese culture. If you also appreciate these delights, don’t miss out on preparing this simple yet delicious recipe.
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Now, take a look at the detailed recipe, where I provide the quantities and step-by-step instructions.