If you are wondering what the heck does Pasteis de Nata mean, fret not, that’s just me trying to mess with your heads. Pasteis de nata is a Portuguese term. If we translate word by word, pasteis means pastries and nata means custard, so pasteis de nata basically means custard pastries.
While Portuguese custard pastries still does not sound remotely familiar to the Malaysian/Singaporean ears, it is actually something that I believe most of you have seen or even tasted before. Of course, the ones we have here are imported from Macau so the authenticity is probably slightly compromised.
I first tasted this delicacy when King’s Confectionery introduced them. You know we already have the Chinese version which I also love, but when I first tasted this Portuguese version, I was mind blown! I could not believe something can be so delicious just by adding a European twist to it. Of course, back then I was under the wrong impression that this delicacy is the Portuguese in Macau taking a Chinese snack and giving it a Portugues twist. Now I know it is the other way round. It was the Portuguese who brought this snack to China and the Chinese adapted it.
Guys (and girls), I’m talking about the Portuguese Egg Tarts 葡式蛋挞! Or Pou Tart 葡挞 in short. Pasteis de Nata is basically the Portuguese name of the original thing.
First, let me show you the real thing, then you can compare with the ones that I made later.
Now, let’s move on to the ones that I made… I have actually seen how they were made in King’s Confectionery before, so I had a rough idea on how to proceed. To further improve my chances of success, I also watched a video on how a Portuguese baker makes it. There was no dialogue and subtitles to this video, but lets overlook this minor detail because this video is authentically Portuguese.
Okay, let’s begin…
(This will make 12 tarts)
- 350ml of full cream milk
- 3 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons of organic soft brown sugar – people typically use white sugar, but I wanted to
appease my momeat healthier
- 1 tablespoon of flour – no I did not buy flour, I borrowed from my neighbor!
- 2 pieces of puff pastries
- 2 knobs of butter
i. Authentic way – Pour milk and sugar in a bowl, mix them together, then add the egg yolks one at a time while mixing, and finally add 1 tablespoon of flour into the mixture and mix well. Lazy Man’s Cut Corners way – Pour milk, sugar, flour and egg yolks in a bowl and mix together. The flour is needed to bind all other ingredients together.
ii. Authentic way – Cook the mixture over low heat and stir continuously until the mixture becomes sticky on the spatula. Lazy Man’s Cut Corners way – Too tedious, skip this! Why cook the custard filling when it will get cooked in the oven eventually anyway?
iii. Take 1 sheet of puff pastry, slather a knob of butter over it, then roll it up.
iv. Cut the rolled up pastry into 6 pieces.
v. With the cut up pastries standing, press down with hand and place them in muffin tin/paper muffin cases/whatever that will help them turn into the tart shell.
vi. Scoop custard filling into each tart shell, filling each to three quarters full.
vii. Authentic way – Repeat step iv to vi with the second sheet of puff pastry. Lazy Man’s Cut Corners way – I’m too lazy for this! Bring out the small sized loaf pan and line the sheet of pastry into the pan. Slather with a knob of butter and pour the remaining custard filling in.
viii. Place the tarts into preheated oven, 200°C for 15 minutes. The one in the loaf pan, 5 more minutes on top of that.
So, how did the tarts look like when done?
It looks… nothing like the real thing! Sh*t! I must have not done a good job of pressing down the pastry. The pastry was probably too thick and expanded more than necessary, infringing on where the custard is supposed to be. And the custard was kind of harder than the expected soft and creamy texture. I suppose 200°C is too hot, blame those stupid recipes I found online!
But the taste was alright though. I mean, the taste was as I remembered how a Pou Tart is..
Now the bigger “tart”, the one in the loaf pan. This looks kind of… promising, don’t you think? I mean, the custard are yellow and charred at some parts, exactly like how it should be.
The inside was, alright. Could be better, but still, alright. At least the custard was holding itself together, although just barely. I think maybe I should have used more flour, maybe next time I should use 2 tablespoons instead of just 1 tablespoon. Or maybe I should not cut corners and cook the filling like how people do it.
And it was delicious. In terms of taste, (I think) I wasn’t very far off compared to store bought ones.
I have 2 more sheets of puff pastries to contend with, so maybe I will attempt this again when I feel like it, and hopefully do a better job next time..