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By November 10, 2014 , , , ,

For those who are not familiar with the concept of yumcha, it is a Chinese style of morning tea. Literally translated as "drink tea," yumcha involves drinking Chinese tea and eating dim sum small dishes, which are sweet, savoury, steamed and fried. Depending on how lavish you want the occasion to be, a yumcha session can typically go from 20 minutes to a few hours. For many families, it is a good way to send some quality time together, bonding over food and sips of Chinese tea. One of a feature dish whenever my family goes to yumcha is the Portuguese Custard Tart.

You might be wondering what is a European-inspired dish doing in a Chinese cuisine? That's the beauty of Chinese culture. Yumcha is a concept popularised by Hong Kong, a former colony of Portuguese and the United Kingdom, and the Portuguese Custard Tart is just one of the European-inspired dish that made it into the yumcha menu. Its crispy pastry skin and velvety golden custard filling has been the perfect way to cap off ten-courses of savoury dishes since, enjoyed by all, from diamond and emerald wearing tai-tais to the civil servant.

But, what if you are only craving for the tart? Yumcha can be a pretty costly affair in Melbourne. Hence I turned to my oven and pray to the goddess of domesticity that I will be able to create a batch of the Portuguese Custard Tarts. Thankfully, Not Quite Nigella's recipe did not disappoint. It was easy to follow and does not even require a mixer! Two hours later, my whole house was filled with the beautiful scent of vanilla and custard. They were a big hit with Mr.S too, who has since requested that I make them again. He was a bit apprehensive about the brown bits over the top initially ("Did you burn it?!") but overcame it when I told him that the black/brown parts are the hallmark of a successful Portuguese Custard Tart.

So, don't be afraid if the filling and skin looks a little burnt. Here is the recipe and I hope your day be filled with rich custard goodness!

Portuguese Tarts

Servings: Makes 12

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 - 50 minutes (depending on your oven)

3 egg yolks (I prefer 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg)
115g /4ozs  caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
230ml/8.11fl ozs Cream
170ml/6fl ozs Milk
2 tsp vanilla extract (I use 2.5 tsp of vanilla essence)
300g/10.6 ozs rolled puff pastry (I use one sheet of puff pastry)


Step 1 - Lightly grease a 12-hole 80ml muffin tray.

Step 2 - Put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a pan and whisk together. Gradually whisk in the cream and milk until smooth.

Step 3 - Place the pan over a medium heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Transfer the custard to a bowl, cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool.

Step 4 - Preheat the oven to 200C.

Step 5 - Cut the pastry dough sheet in half, put one half on top of the other and set aside for 5 minutes. Roll up the pastry tightly from the short end and cut the pastry log into 12 x 1cm rounds. Lay each pastry round on a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll out until each is 10cm in diameter. (Not Quite Nigella has a really good pictorial guide of this step, which is tremendously helpful)

Step 6 - Press the pastry rounds into the muffin tin. Spoon the cooled custard into the pastry cases and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the pastry and custard are golden. Leave the tarts in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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