Tarta di nata

The Tarta di nata Recipe These bite-sized custard pastries are a Portuguese favorite.

Special equipment:
16-hole muffin pan

all-purpose flour, for dusting
1lb 2oz (500g) store-bought all-butter puff pastry,
2 cups milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 large piece lemon zest
4 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cornstarch

1 Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).

2 On a well floured work surface roll out the puff pastry to a 16 x 12in (40 x 30cm) rectangle. Roll up the pastry to make a log. Trim the ends and cut into 16 equal-sized slices.

3 Take a piece of rolled pastry and tuck the loose end underneath it. Lay it down and roll into a thin circle, about 4in (10cm) in diameter, turning it over only once to ensure a natural curve.

4 You should be left with a shallow, bowl-type piece of pastry. Use your thumbs to press it into a muffin pan, ensuring it is well shaped to the pan.

5 Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork. Repeat the process with all the pastry. Rest it in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

6 Heat the milk, cinnamon stick, and lemon zest in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. When the milk starts to boil, remove it from the heat.

7 In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour, and cornstarch until you have a thick paste.

8 Remove the cinnamon stick and the lemon peel from the hot milk and pour it gradually over the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the custard to the cleaned-out pan and place over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens. Remove it immediately from the heat.

9 Fill each pastry crust two-thirds full of the custard and bake in the top of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the custards are puffed and blackened in places on their surface.

10 Remove from the oven and allow to cool. The custards should deflate slightly, but this is quite normal. Leave for at least 10–15 minutes before eating warm or cold.

The finished tarts will keep in an airtight container for 1 day.

Both the custard and the pastry crusts can be prepared ahead and stored separately in the refrigerator overnight before finishing.

Tarta di nata Recipe
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