Pastéis de Nata – Recipe

Just made my pavlova and wondering what to do with those leftover egg yolks? Here's an idea.

Pastéis de nata are also known as Portuguese custard tarts. Like their far Eastern cousins, Hong Kong egg tarts, they have a very flaky pastry. The main difference is the custard: HK tarts have a more crème caramel/flan-like custard with a milder, almost buttery flavour, while the Portuguese ones have a denser, pastry cream-like custard with a sweeter flavour. Pastéis de nata are also identifiable by their slightly burned-looking tops.

I adore both kinds. Gun-to-head, I'd have to choose the HK variety over the other simply because they're what I grew up with (Chinese family and all that). Cultural background aside, both have their own charms and are as delicious as each other.

Why did I decided to make the Portuguese ones over the HK kind? Well, the texture of HK tarts comes from the fact that the whole egg is used- the egg whites are what give the slightly gelled texture. Since I had some egg yolks left over from making a summery pavlova for Mothercare's blog (which uses the same meringue base as my red berry pavlova), I decided to make a 'parallel recipe' using only the leftovers. So, if you're making this recipe before you've seen my pavlova recipe, now you know how to use up those six egg whites. ;)


-1 x tube/ box of ready rolled puff pastry (not to be confused with 'ready to roll'- you can use this, but it's a tiny bit more effort to roll it out)
-150ml milk (full fat is best)
-200g caster sugar
-2 level tbsp cornflour
-6 x egg yolks


1) If your puff pastry is chilled, take it out at least 30mins before you take it out of the packaging to soften it up.

2) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C* and lightly grease a 12-hole cupcake/ muffin pan.

3) Unroll your puff pastry and divide it into 12 equal sections.

4) Roll each into a ball and re-roll them out into large discs with a rolling pin, using each to line the inside of the muffin tin. Make sure they're large enough to overlap the tops of the holes a bit.

5) To make up the custard, mix the cornflour with a few tablespoons of the milk. Then mix in the yolks, followed by the milk and sugar. Don't whisk too hard- you want the custard to be dense and smooth, not bubbly.

6) Divide the mixture between the pastry cups with a tablespoon (I found that each took about three tablespoons of custard). This is quite a generous amount of custard- it's going to balloon a bit in the oven, but don't panic.

7) Bake for about 25mins, or until the pastry is puffy and brown and the tops are puffy and browning.

8) Take out of the oven to cool for 5mins, then another 10mins on a wire rack (the custard is like molten lava straight from the oven- believe me, I learned the hard way!) then enjoy, preferably with a cup or tea or coffee.


When I made these I baked them at 180 degrees C (which is a common oven temperature for baking). As you can see, my tarts are a bit on a pale side. They were still gorgeously delicious and flaky (and in fact a bit like the softer flaky pastry you'd find in HK tarts)- but to get the very crisp flake of a Portuguese tart, the oven needs to be hotter: hence my instruction up there to bake at 200 degrees C. In fact you could even try 220 degrees C and get the traditional burned-top look, but I'd stick with 200 to be on the safe side.


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