I remember a pre-kiddy weekend in Lisbon about 5 years ago. After an early flight we arrived in the city centre, dropped our bags at the lovely hotel, and went for our first wander. Peckish, we dropped into this really ordinary cake shop / cafe. There were no price or labels on the cakes. They spoke no English – we had barely cracked open the guidebook so we had literally no Portuguese. But happily, by way of lots of smiling and pointing, we managed to get a great assembly of cakes and much needed coffee. It was heaven!
Though made – and eaten, in very different surroundings these days, these little custard tarts from Lisa Faulkner’s great book – Recipes From My Mother For My Daughter, bring me right back.
My photo doesn’t do these justice – they really are scrumptious!
Portuguese Custard Tarts (Makes between 12 and 16)
Butter for greasing
250ml (8oz) double cream
150ml (1/4 pint) milk
Rind of one lemon
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons of cornflour
125g (4oz) caster sugar
150g ready-made puff pastry (chilled)
Flour for dusting
Handfull of blueberries and strawberries
1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC (375ºF), gas mark 5 and grease a bun / muffin tin.
2. Put the cream, lemon rind and milk in a saucepan. Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla pod and scape the seeds out. Add the seeds and the empty pod to the milk mixture. Bring to a simmer then take off the heat.
3. Whisk together the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar in a mixing bowl until it becomes a smooth paste. Sieve the milk mixture into the bowl of egg paste and mix together quickly and thoroughly.
4. Return it all to the saucepan and heat over a low to moderate heat until it thickens – but do not let the mixture boil. Be careful! This happens really quickly. Take the pan off the heat.
5. Whilst the custard is cooling, roll out the pastry as thin as you can, on a lightly floured surface. Pick a scone / biscuit cutter that gives you a disk that fits the hole of the bun tin – bearing in mind you want the pastry to cover the bottom and sides. Gently press each disk into the holes of the muffin tin. Lightly prick the bases with a fork. Fill each pastry cup to just over halfway with the custard mixture.
6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for around 20 minutes until they are browned on top.
Leave to cool in the tin, before carefully removing them.
Enjoy! They are simply divine!