Delicious Portuguese Tarts!!!
For those of you who have been fortunate to visit beautiful Portugal or one of it’s even lovelier islands, then you will almost certainly have seen (as they are in every bakery or cafe) or better still tasted one of its specialities – Portuguese Custard Tarts.
Possibly surprisingly to many (!) I do not actually have a sweet tooth and cakes and pastries do little for me! Except these tarts. I love them. A recent trip to gorgeous Madeira witnessed me trying a tart in every eatery we went to, and yes that was copious many, if only because the coffee there is also a real treat. Every café had its own version and ‘secret recipe’ of this traditional speciality and everyone albeit different was devoured. So, here is my version, perhaps not as good as when eaten on a pavement café in Funchal or Lisbon, or in a little tavern in the mountains having hiked one of the levadas with agapanthus and orchids growing like weeds; but hey ho, I am back in Merrow and this is as good as it gets re those little tarts…..
On a floured board, roll out a 500g pack of puff pastry and using a 9cm cutter cut out about 12 circles (I should be on commission with the amount of this stuff I use and recommend.) Now line a greased muffin tray with the pastry circles and pop in the fridge to chill and relax (the pastry not you!) whilst you make the filling; which is basically rich custard. Mix 2 rounded tablespoons of custard powder with 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of double cream taken from a 400ml tub until it resembles a smooth paste. Now split a vanilla pod down the middle and scrape out the seeds and add to the paste. Or if you like, not as good but ok…just use a sprinkle of a good vanilla extract. (the better the quality the better the taste). Now add the zest of an orange to the paste (and eat the flesh for lunch). Then simply heat the rest of the cream in a small pan just to boil and pour over the paste; return to the mixture to the pan and heat gently, whisking for about a minute until thick and smooth. Basically you are just making custard as per the tin’s instructions but using cream instead of milk. Try and forget about the calories for a few minutes. Allow the custard to cool slightly and then pour into the chilled pastry cases. You could, if you like, sprinkle a tad of cinnamon or mixed spice on top, but not for me thank you. Bake in a hot oven, 220c, gas 7 for about 20 minutes until golden. Allow cool, dust with icing sugar and absolutely devour, with that cup of coffee. Sometimes these tarts are served looking almost ‘burnt’ or caramelised on top, achieved by sprinkling a little sugar on top before baking. They did not look as appetising… ‘Ooh that one looks burnt’ I thought – but they did taste good! All of them…..
PS I should add that when I incorporate these into a business’ breakfast or elevenses there are never any left – over as ‘chef’s perks’. Shame.