The Portuguese Treat

Print More

This month’s recipe, Pastel de nata, is a famous and popular Portuguese treat. The pastel de nata was invented by monks at Santa Maria Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon sometime before the 18th century. The monks who used large quantities of egg whites to starch clothes, repurposed the egg yolks to make pastries. After Liberal Revolution of 1820 and following the dissolution of religious orders, the monks started selling pastéis de nata at a nearby sugar refinery to bring in revenue. In 1834, the monastery was closed and the recipe was sold to Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém in 1837, a business that remains in the hands of the descendants to this day. The Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, a stone’s throw away from the Jerónimos Monastery, sells over 20,000 pastries a day and is the most popular place to buy them, attracting both locals and tourists. But you don’t have to go there to find these pastries. They can be found in many places in Portugal and at restaurants around the world including many Portuguese restaurants in the U.S.

Pastel de Nata

12 cup muffin tin
Candy thermometer

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
Peel of 1 lemon cut in thin strips
1 sheet puff pastry-thawed
Ground cinnamon for dusting, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 550°F or at the highest temperature your oven has up to 550 degrees and lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
2. Bring the sugar, water, vanilla extract, lemon peel, and cinnamon stick to a boil in a medium, heavy-based saucepan. Cook without stirring until it reaches 220°F, then remove the cinnamon stick and take the pan off the heat.
3. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, whisk the milk, flour, and salt until well blended. Whisk constantly and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove it from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
4. Once the milk mixture has cooled, whisk in the egg yolks, then add the sugar syrup and mix until everything is well combined. Pour through a sieve into a measuring cup to remove any lumps.
5. Cut the puff pastry sheet into two pieces and place them on top of each other. Tightly roll the sheets into a log from the short side, then cut it into 12 evenly sized pieces.
6. Place one piece of pastry in each of the 12 wells of the muffin tin. Dip your thumb in cold water, then use your thumb to press the pastry against the sides to form a cup. Make sure the pastry comes slightly above the edge of each well.
7. Fill each pastry cup ¾ of the way with custard.
8. Bake at 550°F for 10-12 minutes. The tarts are done when the custard starts to caramelize and blister, and the pastry turns golden brown.
9. Dust with powdered sugar and cinnamon if desired and serve warm.

Comments are closed.