Custard Tarts – Portuguese Pasteis de nata

Current situation is me sitting in a chair in my bay window listening to my husband, daughter, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law chatting around the island drinking coffee and eating breakfast. There are a few others that haven’t come down yet and I guess last nights dinner party was a little too much for my father-in-law; he stayed home in bed this morning. Everyone is here to celebrate my father-in-law turning 92 years; he says young.

I will try not to get too side tracked with all the commotion. Last week for our World Wide Wednesday meal we “traveled” to Portugal. Everything was excellent but I wanted to share with you the custard tarts (Pasteis de nata) they were crazy good. Update the rest came downstairs and my father-in-law decided he felt better and walked over. While I think it is pretty cool he can still walk that far, I wish he would tell someone when he heads out so we can make sure he makes it to his destination.

Back to the tarts. I am not shy about making or baking just about anything but I had never made custard before, I can’t even tell you if I had ever had custard before I had never made puff pastry before, I will confess I really didn’t even realize I was making puff pastry at the time. And I will also confess I made an absolute mess with all the melted butter. However I had some leftover custard and bought some frozen puff pastry from the store and the consensus is that mine was way better.  Guess I will be making it again some day.

I realize this recipe will not be for everyone, the ingredient list is simple, it does take a little time and a little finesse, I myself need to work on the finesse part but I am up for it.

Custard Tarts - Portuguese pasteis de nata

the lemon, vanilla and cinnamon are optional but worth it
Servings 12


dough ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • cup cold water
  • 1 stick unsalted butter softened and divided

sugar syrup

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 lemon zested into large strips

custard base

  • cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • cups milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



  • Combine flour, salt, and cold water in a bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough just comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Dough should be sticky; adjust with more flour or water as needed
  • Transfer dough onto a well floured surface. Dust a little more flour over the top. Knead for a minute or two to form a round. Cover and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Roll dough into a square about 1/8 inch thick, dusting with flour as necessary; dough should still be sticky. Spread 1/3 of the butter over 2/3 of the square using a silicone spatula, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Flip the unbuttered side over the middle of the square and fold the opposite end over it like a letter. Straighten the edges as needed.
  • Turn dough with a bench scraper to unstick it from the counter; dust with flour. Flip and sprinkle more flour on top. Roll dough into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle, carefully stretching edges as needed. Spread another 1/3 of the butter over 2/3 of the dough. Fold into thirds. Transfer onto a lined baking sheet and freeze until butter is slightly chilled, about 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle dough with flour and roll into a square a little over 1/8 inch thick. Spread remaining butter over the dough, leaving a 1- to 1 1/2-inch border on the top edge. Dip your finger in water and lightly moisten the unbuttered edge. Roll dough into a log starting from the bottom edge. Dust with more flour and polish the ends as needed. Seal with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight


  • Combine sugar, 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water, cinnamon, and lemon zest in a pot. Boil over medium heat, without stirring, until syrup reaches 210° to 215° F Remove from heat to cool.
  • Preheat oven to the highest temp it can go. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.


  • Whisk flour, salt, and cold milk together very thoroughly in a cold pot. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until milk thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for at least 10 minutes
  • Whisk egg yolks into the cooled milk. Add the sugar syrup and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Strain custard into a glass measuring cup
  • Unwrap the dough and trim any uneven bits on the ends. Cut into 12 even discs
  • Place a piece of dough in each muffin cup. Dip your thumb lightly in some cold water. Press thumb into the center of the swirl; push dough against the bottom and up the sides of the cup until it reaches least 1/8 inch past the top. Fill each cup 3/4 of the way with custard.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until the pastry is browned and bubbly, and the tops start to blister and caramelize, about 12 minutes. Cool tarts briefly and serve at room temperature,

recipe from allrecipes

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