When I visited Macau — part of the Republic of China — earlier this year, I was blown away by the Portuguese architecture and Chinese culture on the beautiful island. Equally mind-blowing were the Portuguese egg tarts — soft and gooey from the middle and crispy from the outside — which were readily available on the streets of Macau.
I decided to find a recipe and make it when I got back home. This is an amazing recipe and I have cooked three batches of Poh Taht already!
Egg yolks 4
Cream 1/2 cup
Milk 1/2 cup
Vanilla essence 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon stick 1
Lemon zest 1/2 tsp
Cornflour 1 tbsp
Sugar 3 tbsp
Pinch of salt
Non-stick muffin tray, rolling pin, whisk
For the crust
Buy ½ kg puff pastry dough from your nearest bakery or grocery store
To make the filling
• Place a saucepan on medium heat. Add half of both milk and cream in the pan and add cornflour. Whisk till properly mixed.
• Now add sugar, salt and mix well.
• Add the rest of the milk and cream, and the cinnamon and lemon zest.
• Now add the egg yolks slowly into the mixture and keep beating with the whisk till milk thickens like thick custard. Take the mixture off the heat.
• Add vanilla essence. Your egg custard is ready
• Let it cool. You can keep this filling in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days, covered with cling film.
Working with the dough
Working with puff pastry dough can be a nightmare. To make sure it’s cold enough to work with, refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
• Dust the work surface with white flour and roll the dough into a rectangular ½ inch thick sheet.
• Now roll up this sheet in a cylindrical shape with one-inch diameter. Wrap it in cling film and put it in the refrigerator to harden for 15 minutes.
• Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 200o C.
• Cut 1-inch long cross-sections of the cylindrical dough with a knife.
• Take one piece and put it in the muffin well. With your thumb, press the dough and pull it about 1/8 inch out of the muffin well. The dough should be uniformly thick all around — i.e. about 1/8 inch — to ensure that the pastry is cooked properly.
• If the pastry gets hard to work with, pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes and try again.
• Fill each muffin well with 1 tbsp of egg custard.
• Fill the tray and slide it in the oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 200o C.
• Once the tart starts turning golden brown from the top and the custard swells into a dome, turn on the top grill. Let it bake till the surface is dappled with brown marks.
• Take the tarts out from the muffin wells.
• Your Portuguese egg tarts are ready. Serve them warm.
Madiha Hamid is a digital media professional. She loves the food traditions unique to families. She is running a food blog for Pakistani and regional cuisines called cheflingtales.com
Follow her on twitter @cheflingtales.
Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, December 9th, 2012.