Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts)

Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts)

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  • 2 cups (8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted cold butter, cubed
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) white sugar
  • 1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Peel from 1 lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) whole milk
  • 1/3 cup (1.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • Ground cinnamon, for dusting
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add flour, sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Add butter and mix just until butter cubes are broken slightly. Add cream and mix until dough just starts to form. The dough will be quite shaggy; do not over-mix.

Turn the dough out onto floured surface and roll into a large rectangle. Fold the dough like you would a letter. Then, roll out into a large rectangle again, fold again from the opposite direction. Repeat once more.

Roll dough into a large rectangle, ¼-inch-thick. Lift the edge of dough closest to you and roll the dough away from you into a tight log, brushing the excess flour from the underside as you go. Trim the ends, wrap dough in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 550° F, and lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

To make the custard, in a saucepan, bring to a boil the sugar, water, vanilla extract, lemon peel and cinnamon stick. Cook until a thermometer reads a temperature of 220° F (100° C). Resist the urge to stir!

In a separate saucepan, whisk the milk, flour and salt together very thoroughly. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the milk has thickened. Take off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, whisk in the egg yolks.

Remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel from the sugar syrup and add to the milk mixture. Stir until everything is well-combined. Strain into a measuring jug.

Remove dough from the fridge and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Unwrap the dough and cut into 12 even pieces. Place 1 piece in each of the 12 wells of the muffin tin.

Have a small cup of water nearby. Dip your thumbs in the water, then straight down into the middle of the dough spiral. Flatten dough against the bottom of the cup to a thickness of about 1/16 inch, then smooth the dough up the sides and create a raised lip about 1/8-inch above the pan. The pastry bottoms should be thinner than the tops.

Fill each pastry cup 3/4 of the way with custard. Bake the tarts until the custard starts to caramelize and blister and the edges of the dough are frilled and brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow the tarts to cool a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a rack and cool until just warm. Sprinkle generously with confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon and serve.


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