Pastéis de Nata

Portugal’s most famous contribution to pastry is a simultaneously crisp and creamy mini tart. In our warmly spiced version, we spike our vanilla bean-speckled egg custard with cinnamon and cardamom. For that iconic spot-blistered top, high heat and a final sear under the broiler help you bring the quality of the Portuguese pastelerias to your home oven.

Pastéis de Nata
Makes 16
  • 1⅓ cups (167 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ tablespoon (4.5 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 4 tablespoons (60 grams) ice water, divided
  • 2 cups (480 grams) heavy whipping cream
  • 1½ cups (360 grams) whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
  • 2 green cardamom pods*, cracked open
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (224 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (32 grams) cornstarch
  • 2 large eggs (100 grams)
  • 4 large egg yolks (74 grams)
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Using a cheese grater, gradually grate frozen butter into flour mixture, tossing and coating with flour as you go. (If you grate too much butter at once, it will clump up and not mix well with flour.) Drizzle 2 tablespoons (30 grams) ice water over flour mixture; toss with flour until fully absorbed. Add remaining 2 tablespoons (30 grams) ice water, and knead a few times to work it all together. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat cream, milk, vanilla bean and reserved seeds, cardamom pods, and cinnamon stick over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch; whisk in eggs and egg yolks. Add about ½ cup hot milk mixture to egg mixture, whisking constantly. Add egg mixture to remaining hot milk mixture in pan, whisking to combine. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened, about 10 minutes. (A good indicator for thickness: Once you stop whisking, the custard immediately stops moving as well.) Strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly onto surface of custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Line 16 muffin cups with 2 (1-inch) strips of parchment paper.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half. Roll half of dough into a 10x8-inch rectangle. Sprinkle with water, and roll up dough, jelly roll style. Cut dough into 8 (1-inch) rounds. On a lightly floured surface, roll each round into a 4-inch circle. Transfer circles to prepared muffin cups, pressing into bottoms and up sides. Repeat with remaining dough. Pour custard into prepared crusts, filling three-fourths full.
  6. Bake for 13 minutes. Increase oven temperature to broil. Broil until desired level of brownness is achieved, about 10 minutes. (For more browning, place on a higher rack during broil.) Alternatively, brown with a kitchen torch. Serve warm. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
*If you’re a cardamom fan, feel free to add a third pod.

Note: Dough can be made in a food processor; however, it will result in a much less flaky dough.


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