Tart smart

Portuguese-style egg tarts with a hint of fruity sweetness.

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Getting dessert recipes right is challenging and depends on what dessert you’re making. For me, trying out egg tarts for the first time was fun to experiment with and generated scrumptious results.

I went to the Internet for inspiration this time around. The idea for this recipe came as I was watching episode two of Ronny Chieng: International Student on YouTube. Watching the comedy series gave me the idea to look up two different recipes for egg tarts, one Chinese and the other Portuguese.

Eventually, I managed to find and use the recipe from the Tasting Table blog under the article “Portuguese Egg Tart,” except I used the folding technique from the YouTube channel “Food Wishes” from their video on how to make Portuguese custard tarts.

Instead of lemon zest and vanilla extract for the simple syrup, I used a tablespoon of orange extract to give the pastry a hint of orange. The subtle fruit aftertaste compliments the flavors of the simple syrup and egg mixture. Then there’s the crunchy exterior of the tart shell blending with the soft and sweet center for a delicious combination.

All the ingredients for the egg tart I picked up from Stop & Shop cost about $39, if I sought out the lower-priced ingredients. Also, you can use about half teaspoon of ground cinnamon in the simple syrup, since cinnamon sticks were the most expensive item on the shopping list.

Portguese Egg Tarts

Dough Ingredients:

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
⅔ cup water
¼ tsp. kosher salt

Egg Filling Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
⅔ cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup heated milk
½ cup all-purpose flour
6 eggs
1 Tbsp. orange extract

For the dough, combine the flour, salt, and water in a mixing bowl. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, it’ll only take about 5 to 8 minutes set to low speed. When the dough is thoroughly combined and sticky, transfer the dough off the hook and onto a floured cutting board. Dust the dough with as much flour as needed, so the dough doesn’t stick to your hands.

Once covered with flour, put a little bit of flour onto a rolling pin and roll the dough out into a ¼ inch thick rectangle about 10 inches long. Cover the flat dough with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Once the dough has set, remove from the fridge and roll the dough out into a 15-inch square, spread 1/3 of the softened butter on the dough, enough to cover two-thirds of the dough. Fold the dough over halfway across and the other half over it to create a long rectangular shape. Make sure the edges are sealed, then dust the dough with more flour and flip it. Roll the dough back out into a 15-inch square and repeat the buttering process, except this time roll the square up into a log. Wrap it in plastic and leave it in the fridge overnight.

When the dough is ready, it will be firm enough to cut into 12 one-inch pieces. After preparing the dough, in a small saucepan blend the sugar with the water and the cinnamon stick, bringing the mixture to a boil on high heat for one minute; then set it aside for the egg custard. After rinsing out the small pot, heat the milk on medium heat for 5 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, eggs, heated milk, orange extract, and run the simple syrup through a sieve. Blend the egg custard as much as possible; if there are still flour chunks leftover, run the custard mixture through the sieve again into a large measuring cup for a smoother mixture.

Preheat the oven to 550 degrees and wet your hands with cold water. In a muffin tin press, the one-inch dough slices down into the muffin tin and stretch them out, so they are reaching over the muffin tin’s ridges. (I highly recommend this because the custard rises as it cooks in the oven.) Once set, pour the custard into the dough and fill them up 1/3 of the way, but make sure not to fill them to the top.

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes; the top of the custard will brown a bit. Remove from the oven, and once the muffin tin cools, transfer the egg tarts to a cooling rack. Serve the tarts at room temperature and enjoy a sweet and savory pastry.