I have dreaming about these golden little beauties since my first night in China at the World Memory Championship ……… literally drooling into my pillow!!
Dominic O’Brien and I travelled together all the way from Heathrow Terminal 4 to Hainan together – pretty harmoniously when all is said and done, although as an ex Stage Manager I have developed the knack of sleeping anywhere (even sitting up in Economy) …. Dominic is a tall chappie and Economy travel coupled with long legs tripled with a mate who can sleep anywhere that is not actually on a drum kit meant he was just a little bit pouty by the time we got to the hotel. Can’t blame him really!!
It was the early hours of the morning – not too bad, just about one o’clock …. can’t even work out what time that was for us body clock time but we were both Hank Marvin so I am guessing it was feeding time back home Our wonderful organisers whipped out to the nearest KFC and bought us some food.
Alongside a chicken burger and a wonderfully iced drink was a couple of these little lovelies wrapped in a greaseproof bag.
OMG!!! So good that we both mentioned them at breakfast the next morning … what were they?? And of course I was thinking … “Where can I get the recipe??”
Turns out that they are not a Chinese delicacy at all .. but little Portuguese Custard Tarts. AlI know is that they were totally marvellous and a quick session with a Cheffy Mate sorted out the problem with the pastry I first had making them and now …………. well now ….. perfect!!!
They taste just like I remember …. and for all the lovely food we had in China we didn’t have much sweet stuff so these are a wonderful memory of my travels. Funny the things you remember isn’t it?
- 1 packet of puff pastry (of course its bought!!!)
- Two egg yolks and 1 whole egg
- 2 tablespoons cornflour
- 115g vanilla sugar (or sugar with a splash of essence)
- 400 ml whole milk. Two egg yolks and one whole egg into a microwave safe bowl. Add the sugar and the cornflour which will stabilise the custard and prevent it splitting into scrambled eggs – it also thickens the mixture to a nice consistency. Whisk everything together until smooth. Pour on the milk and whisk again …………… Now here is “Cheffy Tip Number One” – microwave the mixture in 30 second bursts. Stop and whisk each time until the mixture is a nice “dropping consistency” … that is “school dinner custard” to you and I … nice and thick and gloopy! Mine took about three minutes in all.
Set the bowl into the fridge as you will want to use this when its cold – trust me on this – hot custard and cold pastry just makes for an icky slimy mess. Mary Berry would NOT approve let me tell you!! Defrost your puff pastry … mine was RTC at LIDL … just 10p so I bought a few and stashed them in my freezer.
Puff pastry is made up in layers – right? So if your roll it out and all the layers are horizontal, when you bake it the pastry puffs up like a pillow and you have your “pie lid” effect .. with me so far?
Do that with a splodge of custard on them it all runs off as the pastry rises .. what you need for little tarts is the layers sitting vertically .. so that when it bakes you have layers like the petals of a rose that retains its shape and contains your custard.
Apparently you learn stuff like this when you are a Patissiere!!
So mark the cigar into twelve sections and cut. Leaving you pieces that you can now roll out and cut with a pastry cutter to fill your tartlet tins. TA-DA … now pop the tray into the fridge as well – you want to let the pastry rest and have both the case and the filling as cold as possible before you start. A good heaped tablespoon of custard in each well …. and then bake at 180 for 25 minutes or so until the custard is golden with dark brown speckles.
Let the tarts rest in the tin for five minutes – they will deflate and go all glossy and glam.
They are sweet though – the Portuguese don’t do pastries by half measures …. but they are light and flaky crisp and totally delicious.
So … before the kids scarf the lot I am off to check on my Silver Saltires and take a few round the houses as a treat. Only one thing to say ……….. you really need to make these!!! YUM!!!!