Portuguese Custard Tarts-Pasteis de Belem and A Winner!

SDC10391First of all let me congratulate Rico from Rico-Tried and Tested Recipes as the winner to my giveaway challenge! There is a bottle of excellent Portuguese Extra olive Oil going your way.

And since Rico is Portuguese-and so is the Olive oil- what better way to celebrate Rico’s success than with a post on one of Portugal’s not so well hidden secrets-Portuguese Custard tarts.

In order to do so, I must ask you to accompany me on a trip to where it all started and where hundreds flock to on a daily basis to taste this heavenly pastry.

So, It all begun in a little place on the edge of Lisbon called Belem…

Well Belem is very well-know for several architectural wonders that celebrate the Portuguese empire of the 1700’s.

Such as The Castle-right on the edge of the riverbelemThe Padrao dos Descobrimentos– erected as a reminder to all of Portuguese sea route discoveries
SDC10377The Gothic Monastery (once a covent where the Custard tarts were first made)Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
Well not far from the Gothic Monastery, you will find a little golden discovery of your own-Pasteis de Belem.SDC10390From Wikipedia: It is believed that it was created before the 18th century by Catholic Monks at the Jerónimos Monastery[1] (Portuguese: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) of Belém, in Lisbon [1]. The Casa Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon was the first place outside the convent selling the original creamy dessert, after the monastery was closed in 1820’s, and there they are called Pastéis de Belém, after the name of the area and its famous bakery. Since 1837, locals have gone there to get them warm out of the oven and sprinkled with the cinnamon and powdered sugar. These are very popular, with tourists waiting in excess of 3 hours for them

The place is very unique indeed-from traditional Portuguese Style Mosaic tilesSDC10396SDC10397To speciality winesSDC10394And old-fashioned cash registersSDC10403You will feel as if time has just stood still.

You can watch the glorious pastries being removed from a hot oven before being sold:SDC10398But the best surprise of all: I managed to get a table!
I ordered a strong coffee and a pastel de belem. It was served with the obligatory icing sugar and cinnamon.SDC10409I expected to pay quite a bit for such a luxury, but when the waiter brought me the bill- a mere 1 euro 50 cents, I was in heaven!

What an experience!
For those of you who cant go to the Belem just yet to experience the same, here’s the recipe to keep you dreaming.

And in the meantime, if you do happen to pop into Pasteis de Belem, be sure to take this home with you! It holds 6 freshly baked heavenly pastries!
SDC10392So Rico, congrats and this one is for you!


This recipe is from this wonderful website. do check their amazing recipes!

Pasteis de Nata
makes 12
Prepared puff pasty – defrosted but kept cold
1 ¾ cups whole milk
¼ cup cream
4 egg yolks
3 Tbsp white sugar
Pinch salt
2 Tbsp Plain flour
½ cinnamon stick
2 strips lemon peel
½ tsp vanilla extract

Pastry Cream Instructions
  1. In a sauce pan add milk, cream, egg yolks, sugar, salt, flour mix well with a whisk to ensure all the ingredients are well combined, do not turn heat on yet.
  2. Once all ingredients are combined and there are no lumps of sugar or flour add cinnamon stick, lemon peel and vanilla.
  3. Turn heat on to low stirring continuously and gently with whisk. *Note it’s very important to heat the milk slowly, if the milk is heated too quickly, egg yolks could coagulate like scrambled eggs and ruin the consistency of the custard.
  4. Continue stirring until it cream becomes quite thick and resembles a rich pudding. Watch for thickening around the edges of the pan, you want a really smooth cream so make certain to get in the sides and bottom edges of the pan.
  5. Let cool completely. When cooled, remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel.
  6. To avoid milk skin from forming on custard you can place parchment paper on top of warm custard and it will lift out easily when you go to use it to fill puff pasty shells.
Preparing Pastry Shells

  • Preheat oven to 225F (107C) [update: 300 F (148C)]
  • Roll out cold puff pastry dough with pin on floured surface, until 1/4 cm thick.
  • Once rolled out thin, dusk off excess flour and begin rolling puff pastry like a long cigar. Roll pastry snugly but not tight, just enough to avoid a lot of space or air pockets in roll.
  • Place pastry roll length wise and cut in 4cm lengths
  • Then take each cut piece in hand and push down center of roll to meet center of opposite side, gently press pastry with fingers to spread out dough to create what will feel like half of a hallow pastry ball. Work in circular pattern and pastry will start to thin and from a cup shape. If dough gets sticky use a little flour to help it along. Finished shells should be about 1/4cm, thin but not enough to see your hand through. If you like puff pastry you can make the shells a little thicker, but a couple of tries of the finished version will let you know your preference.
  • Place pastry in muffin tray, and spread out to sides but don’t stretch dough upward, just gently press against side of muffin tin to ensure it won’t shrink too much when baking.
  • When all pastry shells are ready fill with pastry cream, do not fill to top. Fill to ¾ or a bit more but leaving 1- 1.5cm at top of pastry.
  • Place custards in oven and bake for 15min, but keep eye on custards as some ovens can burn top quite quickly, while others don’t cook the pastry quickly enough. If pastry around sides looks deep golden colour pastries are done.
  • Baked Custard Tarts on Foodista

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