You won’t believe the operation that went into photographing these tarts! I like to take my own photos for each recipe that I post and each recipe is one that I have made recently so I can write about them while they are fresh in my mind. At this time of year food photography is really challenging because of the shortage of daylight. So, to give you an example – I made the tarts in this photo on a Sunday evening, it was too late in the day to take photos so in order to be able to take the photos the next day I first had to hide the tarts so they wouldn’t be eaten! On Monday then I ran in the door from work around 4pm, took over the kitchen and basically had about 30 mins to whip out the tarts to try and get some decent shots. I needn’t tell you I was getting some funny looks while this was going on! Sometimes I would take about 40 photos before I even have one or two I am happy with and sometimes they are all rubbish which can be really annoying. If I don’t get a decent shot the trouble is the food is eaten and I have to start all over again!
Anyway, rant over! If you have ever been to Lisbon you will hopefully have tried one of their famous Pasteis de Nata (Custard Tarts). I was there earlier this year and I took a trip to Belem to the famous bakery where they make these melt in the mouth tarts which cost around €1 so you just have to have 2 (and also buy some for later)! I have unsuccessfully tried to make these tarts in the past and put it down to the fact that me and pastry-making do not really get on. Then a recipe appeared in the Irish Times Weekend Magazine recently for Apple & Custard Tarts so I decided to give it a go and the result was my very own melt in the mouth custard tarts. I have made these twice once with the apple and once without which I much preferred. They are gorgeous and pretty foolproof. They also disappeared within hours of being made which is also a good sign.
Makes approx. 10/12 tarts
Time: 15 mins to make and 20-25 minutes to cook in the oven
1 packet of ready rolled puff pastry (usually 250/300g)
4 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
2 level tablespoons of plain flour
1tsp vanilla extract
1 12-hole muffin tin
Cutter, 10cm wide (I used a mini-tart tin which is exactly 10cm wide)
- Preheat an oven to 220°C/425° F/gas 9.
- Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tray.
- Roll out the puff pastry to a thickness of two millimetres and stamp out approx 10 circles of pastry (each 10cm wide,).
- Gently press the pastry circles into the hollows, to the top edge of each (so they can hold all the liquid), then put them in the fridge.
- In a mixing bowl, use a wooden spoon to beat the egg yolks with the sugar until smooth and pale, then stir in the flour.
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk with the vanilla until just before it starts to boil, then remove it from the heat.
- Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mix, whisking all the time with a hand whisk, while not creating too much foam.
- Fill the pastry circles with custard just to the top.
- Cook for 20-25 minutes, until puffed up, set in the middle and slightly browned on top.