portuguese custard tarts {pasteis de nata}

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Matt has introduced me to all sorts of things.  One of my favorite things about dating someone who grew up in a foreign country is learning about favorite food memories that seem so exotic to me.  While I grew up with Butterfinger, he grew up with Yorkie bars; while I fondly remember Funjuns for an afternoon snack, he adored Monster Munch; and while the holidays aren’t the holidays for me without pumpkin pie, it’s not Christmas to him without mince pie {neither of us understands the other on this last delicacy – he thinks pumpkin is a savory vegetable that has no business showing its face in a dessert; I still don’t understand his obsession with a pie comprised of dried fruit}.

Soon after we started dating, Matt announced one morning that he was craving Portuguese custard tarts.  We immediately started googling “where to find Portuguese custard tarts in San Francisco” with no real leads.  Eventually, this food impulse was forgotten, and Matt’s craving went unsatiated, until recently.  For Matt’s birthday this year, I attempted to make these from scratch.  Having never tasted one before, I was a bit at a loss for what to look for in a recipe.  I ultimately blended a few – flavoring the custard base with a fragrant combination of lemon, cinnamon and vanilla bean.  To simplify matters somewhat, I used a store-bought puff pastry.  The crisp, buttery puff pastry encasing the beautifully perfumed custard was heavenly, and I immediately understood why Matt remembered these so fondly.

On a side note, our trip to Paris is coming up very shortly {we leave in less than a month}.  A spot that is definitely on our short list is Comme à Lisbonne, a bakery that serves, rather exclusively, these gorgeous little Portuguese custard tarts.  Très charmant!

Recipe after the jump>>>

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  • Butter, for greasing
  • 1 1/3 c. heavy cream
  • 2/3 c. whole milk
  • Lemon peel from one lemon {removed from lemon with vegetable peeler}
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 sheet chilled puff pastry
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling, if desired
  • Cinnamon, for sprinkling, if desired

Preheat the oven to 400°F and grease 12-hole muffin tin with butter.

Put the cream, milk, lemon rind and cinnamon stick in a saucepan.  Scrape the seeds from the split vanilla pod into the saucepan and drop in the empty pod, too. Bring to a simmer, then take off the heat.

Whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar in a mixing bowl until it comes together in a paste. Pass the milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl of egg paste and mix together quickly and thoroughly.

Return it all to the saucepan and heat over a moderate heat until it thickens – do not let it boil.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface as thin to between 1/8 of an inch to 1/16 of an inch. Roll it up into a long sausage shape and cut it into 12 discs. Roll out each disc to about 3 1/2 inches in diameter and press them into the holes of the muffin tin.  Prick the bases with a fork and fill with the custard mixture until just over halfway full.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 18 to 20 minutes until browned on top.  Serve warm, with confectioners’ sugar and/or cinnamon sprinkled on top.

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31 Responses to portuguese custard tarts {pasteis de nata}

  1. chardrap says:

    They sound delicious! Might have to give those a go..

  2. shellakers says:

    What a good gf! Now will you send some to me so I can help celebrate with this deliciousness too? lol

  3. Darya says:

    OOOOOH. I adore pasteis de nata. I’ve had them several times in the original Belém pastelaria near Lisbon, but the ones from Comme à Lisbonne a definitely worth a stop! (as well as many other places in that area)
    Beautiful post and pictures, as always.

    • fleurdeselsf says:

      Ooh, you are making me so excited for Paris! I heard there is a fantastic gelato place just next door in the Marais. So many wonderful food options! Any chance you will be in Paris between April 16 to 23? 🙂

      • Darya says:

        Actually, I will be there on the 17th and probably until the 21st or even 22nd! What a perfect timing. We should definitely try to meet up and have lunch-drinks-tea-or-dinner at some point!
        The ice-cream place in the Marais must be Berthillon and it is quite wonderful. A must-try for anyone who likes ice-cream. 🙂

  4. What a wonderful recipe! Your tarts look divine!

  5. One of my favourite pastries ever, as you may have noticed from my blog:) Yours look great, I’ve not been brave enough to try making them yet, lest they fall short of my anticipation and expectation. I may work up to trying some using you recipe. Thanks!

  6. Classic little treats, perfect with a coffee – yours look divine!

  7. I love custard tarts, I have never had the portuguese variety. I make an Italian version pasti ciotti.

  8. ladyredspecs says:

    I’ve never attempted to make these gems, too easy to buy good Portugese custard tarts locally. I just might give these a go. Thanks, oh and I agree with your boyfriend on pumpkin being a vegetable!

    • fleurdeselsf says:

      I wish it were too easy to find these locally – they seems as though they are hard to come by in the states! 🙂 Oh no, another pumpkin pie hater! One thing I don’t get about my bf is that he loves carrot cake – now, how does that make sense?! 🙂 xo

  9. These look amazing! I can go for a cup of coffee right about now… and some of these delicious tarts. Great post Lindsay! xo

  10. Candy says:

    oooh sounds fantastic!

  11. Karen says:

    Your tarts look delicious and I’m sure they were a much enjoyed gift. Your trip will be here before you know it.

  12. I sought these out as soon as I got to Lisbon (and the pork and clams – another specialty). Love them. Yours look just how I remember them too!

    Oh, and pickled onion flavour Monster Munch ruled when I was a kid 😉

    • fleurdeselsf says:

      Haha! I recently tried Monster Munch for the first time – that exact flavor – and am officially in love. I want to import a whole case here. So delicious! 🙂

  13. bonibakes says:

    I love Monster munch… and myself and the hubby always fight over that 5th square of Yorkie – they just weren’t made for sharing! These look delicious 🙂

  14. Pingback: August 2013 | The Style Trunk

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