June 29th, 2008

portuguese egg tarts – pastéis de nata

portuguese egg tarts 1

let me start by apologizing for my lack of posts lately. moving into a new apartment coupled with a vacation in california (including a much-needed vacation from the computer) left me with little free time to bake. but now i’m back, wooden spoon in hand, ready to take on another recipe and make up for lost time. let’s get to it.

tart batter 1tart batter 2

i had my first portuguese egg tart in america, but they did come from a portuguese bakery. during college, my old roommate’s mom came to visit for a few days, bringing with her boxes and boxes of pastries, including about 4 dozen egg tarts. let’s just say they didn’t last too long in our house. unfortunately, they’re not something you typically see in american bakeries, but if you look around a little bit, you’ll come across them.

tart pastry dough cupssfilled egg tarts

pastéis de nata are thought to have been created by catholic sisters in a convent in lisbon. the convent belonged to the belém parish in lisbon, and so they are known there as pastéis de belém. pastéis de belém is also the name of a now world-famous pastry shop in lisbon, specializing in, of course, these egg tarts. my girl was lucky enough to eat there during her trek around europe last year and can attest to their incredible and well-deserved reputation. as for my tarts, she thought they tasted more like the chinese egg tarts you can get at dim sum places, which i am still happy with.

portuguese egg tarts 3

this week i used *gasp* store-bought puff pastry instead of homemade pastry dough. two reasons – i made these on a weeknight where time constraints kept me from dedicating the proper amount of time to a pastry dough and leaving me enough light for photos. secondly, i’ll be making a homemade pastry dough in a day or two for another recipe i can’t wait to make. and while store-bought puff pastry may make some of you cringe, the real star here is the creamy and decadent filling. if you’re going to sit and eat a dozen tarts at once (which is more plausible than it seems once you eat one), just avoid looking at the filling ingredients in the recipe. i’m almost glad i don’t have a neighborhood bakery churning these out – i’d be an extra 200 lbs by next month.

portuguese egg tarts 2

pastéis de nata
adapted from several websites (can’t find the originals, sorry).

1 box puff pastry dough
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
6 egg yolks

1. dissolve the cornstarch in 1/4 cup of the heavy cream in a medium bowl. add the remaining cream and sugar and stir until the mixture is smooth and the sugar is completely dissolved.

2. in a small bowl, blend the yolks with a fork until smooth. add the yolks to the cream mixture and stir gently to combine.

3. thaw 1 sheet of puff pastry dough until workable by hand. roll out on a floured surface until 1/16 inch thick.

4. roll the puff pastry like a long cigar, snugly but not tight. just avoid a lot of space in between layers. you may want to put the dough back in the fridge for a few minutes.

5. place the pastry roll length wise and cut into 6 equal sections. repeat entire process with the second sheet of puff pastry to get 12 snugly rolled dough spirals.

6. take each piece of dough and gently press down the center of the roll to meet the opposite side, creating an indentation with your thumb. carefully work the spiral into a dough cup with your fingers and place into muffin tin. i should note that there tons of different ways to make dough cups with frozen puff pastry. this was the easiest for me, but my tarts didn’t puff quite as much as i had hoped.

7. fill each dough cup a little bit more than 3/4 full with the egg cream mixture. bake at 350 for 25 minutes. allow the tarts to cool completely in the muffin tin before gently taking them out. they can be eaten warm or chilled in the refrigerator, and with a little sprinkle of powered sugar or cinnamon.

8. to get the slightly burned tops, you can sprinkle with white sugar and either use a little kitchen torch or put in the broiler on high for just a few minutes. if you go with the broiler, watch your little tarts like a hawk. they can go from golden brown to black in seconds.



98 Comments for portuguese egg tarts – pastéis de nata - why not leave some love?

  1. Lily says:

    These look lovely! Pastéis de belém are absolutely gorgeous. Everytime I go to Lisbon I prepared to deal with the huge queque just to buy a couple to eat in the park 🙂

  2. Y says:

    I love this kind of tart. Can’t believe that I’ve never bothered to make them at home!

  3. I’m portuguese and I’m allways happy to see people that enjoy our tarts! Well done on making them!

  4. Ashley says:

    Ooo those look so good! I’ve never tried Portugese egg tarts.

  5. BTO says:

    They also make these at Chinese bakeries often too. But they’re not quite the same…

  6. Pastéis de Nata actually means Cream Tarts and not Egg Tarts.

    Yours look nice, by the way 🙂

  7. petebakes says:

    @pedro – thanks for the clarification! you’ll have to forgive my ignorance as i was just pretty focused on eating these non-stop.

  8. RFD says:

    Guess you have no ideia what a Pastel de Natal looks like.

    The pastry is the hardest part, to make it right you have to fold it 6 times then repeat the process 4 times. This 6 folds follow the same pattern.

    And you’ve got to work out the cream.

    Search for “Pastel de Nata” and you’ll find more recipies.

    But for the real thing, get a plain to Portugal and you can eat a real one everywhere. And you always have the originals…at Belém (Lisbon).

    Cheers!

  9. brenda sing says:

    This looks so gross! Is it burnt or something? I’ll never want to eat egg tarts in my life…!

    • Jenny says:

      yes i definitely agree to a large extent!!!!! This can be seen from the tart’s burnt, black sides.

      • brenda sing says:

        This meant that the the tart taste like unimaginable sh*t thus leading to the negative impacts of lao sai.

        • Jenny says:

          pete doesn’t understand lao sai! it means stools. not trying to be harsh but im just stating the truth. don’t be offended but if you want a slightly burnt yolk like the real portuguese tarts, you should use fresh yolks instead of baking it till it became burnt.

  10. Jenny says:

    hello, just a passerby. the yolk looks nice but the crust looks rather burnt. guess you can work on that.

  11. Enim says:

    Well seriously, I’m not trying to insult or what, Just saying that the egg tart don’t looking edible..
    Anyway, it can be improved tho.

  12. brenda sing says:

    This is realiable as it can also be seen in Enim’s comments which shows that the tarts does not taste good. Since Erim’s comments supports my comments, my commets proves that my shit will become watery after eating it.

    • Jenny says:

      my comments also supported yours. since all of us think that this thing looked quite inedible, i guess we’ll have a bad stomachache if we ate this. so yea, you’ll have to work on it.

      • brenda sing says:

        this can also be seen in the picture that it is overcooked. This can be seen from the burnt sides. This meant that after eating, u will develop severe health problems. Thus, this is inedible.

  13. Liliana says:

    Hello ladies:) Just one question…which is the best way to store the pasteis? How long can they last outside of the fridge? I live in Montreal and my husband is from Portugal…so I often buy portuguese pastries. What I have notice in all of the bakeries is that they leave the pasteis de nata outside without refrigeration. How long is it safe to keep them outside?

    • Roberto says:

      2 day max! is safe. But 1 day max (say 24 hours) to keep it real.

      In Portugal, bakeries store (exhibit) them under warm lamps to keep them warm, not much just enough to keep the dough’s grease (it’s butter used in the process) shining and to keep it crispy. By the end of the day the “pastel de nata” start losing the crispy and the cream harder.

      It’s daily-baked, just like 70% of Portuguese Bakery. The finest indeed. Just wonderfull.

  14. Roberto says:

    http://charquinho.weblog.com.pt/arquivo/pastel%20de%20nata.JPG

    Everybody!

    These are the real “Pasteis de Nata”! All the way from Lisbon’s finest bakeries:

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2226/1618434646_d328ad5ecd.jpg

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2217/1618526438_3f0c198683.jpg

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2251/2007415513_f2e740e1d9.jpg

    http://www.algarvebuzz.com/images/Pasties_de_Nata_custard_1.jpg

    http://webnews.textalk.com/upload/article/bild/5/260179/pastel_de_nata_5_s.jpg

    http://imaginacaoativa.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/pastel1.jpg

    – It’s absolutely impossible to reproduce “pasteis de nata” if haven’t tasted them for real. The cream and expecially the pastry are hardcore cooking.

    – The pastry is unique in the world. Portuguese pastry dough it’s not like any, be it french or whatever. The layers are very very fin, like a hair, and after baking it’s the more crispy food you can get in your mouth. Basically the pastry kind of disolves itself in your mouth.

    It’s hardcore baking, beside the fact that you would need the sensitivity of the flavour you could only acquire by living for a good while in Portugal.

    I tried it, and I quit. Rather get a plain and I also get to go to finest beach, drink amazing wines and eat the beast sea food I’ve tried so far until you blow. Nice beer to!

    They also like soccer a lot, it can be fun to catch up some sports celebrations!

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