It’s mid November and by now I don’t see any reason why I should hold off any longer from indulging in pre-Christmas activities!
Let the festive baking begin!
I can’t wait to bake all those delicious treats that make this season so amazing: from cinnamon stars and Lebkuchen to mince pies and my legendary Stollen (watch this space!). Joy is upon us!
Every year I make these classics, but I also try and expand my repertoire. So when this month’s Delicious magazine arrived in the post I got very excited. The whole issue is dedicated to Christmas food, and I’ve bookmarked many pages with post-it notes. I always find it quite tough to decide what to make first from my cookery magazines, everything looks just too tempting and good. In the end I often decide to start with the one recipe that enables me to push my culinary skills.
So this time it had to be these festive Portuguese custard tarts.
Portuguese custard tarts had been on my “to-make” list for a long time. I just love these flaky pastry cases filled with oozing custard goodness! To make them festive, this recipe uses a filling of mincemeat.
“Mincemeat?!” I hear many people think! Yes, mincemeat. It has nothing to do with minced meat. At all. This über British Christmas staple is made of a mix of currants, nuts, apple, alcohol and spices. Just lovely. It is the traditional filling for Mince Pies – those xmas shortcrust tarts that invade Britain during the festive season.
If you can’t get hold of mincemeat in your country you can either make it yourself (here’s a recipe that looks good to me) or if you don’t really like currants, why not just add some cinnamon and nutmeg into the custard?! That should give it some festive flavour too.
As for the custard- don’t be scared! Making custard is super easy! I’d never made it before and I was extremely surprised to find out how astonishingly simple it is! Just mix all your ingredients over a bain marie, stir for a few minutes et voilà: you get a lovely vanilla custard, which is miles better than any store-bought version. Come on, give it a try! And if you have any excess custard, you can just eat it with a spoon of mincemeat – pure indulgence! ★
Festive Portuguese Custard Tarts
375g ready-rolled puff pastry
3 large egg yolks
5g vanilla sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
200ml double cream
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
flaked almonds to decorate
icing sugar for dusting
Cut the puff pastry sheet lengthwise in half, then put one half on top of the other. Roll lengthwise into a long log. Cut into 10 slices.
Put the pastry slices cut side down onto greaseproof (or baking) paper, cover with another piece of greaseproof paper and roll into a round big enough to line a muffin hole. Line the 10 muffin cases with the pastry and chill in the fridge.
Now make the custard. Make a bain marie: put boiling water into a big saucepan, then put a second, smaller saucepan into the hot water. Keep the water hot (but not boiling) on a low heat. In the smaller saucepan gently whisk the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla sugar, cornflour and milk. Stir for about 5-6 minutes until the mix thickens and resembles a custard. Take the small saucepan out of the water and add the cream and vanilla bean paste. Cover the custard surface with cling film (so that no skin forms) and let completely cool down.
Preheat the oven to 180° celsius.
Once the custard is cool, divide it between the 10 muffin cases. Add a teaspoon of mincemeat into each muffin case. Don’t be surprised when the mincemeat sinks and is submerged in the custard. Bake for 15 minutes, then take the muffin tin out and add another small spoonful of mincemeat onto each tart. This time it won’t sink. Sprinkle with almond flakes and bake for another 10 minutes.
Let the custard tarts cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Dust with icing sugar to serve.