I have wanted to make these for so long – probably dating back to before I started my blog in 2007! What took me so long? I can’t honestly say...but they were worth the wait!
The method for lining the pastry cases is unusual in that you roll the puff pastry up (swiss roll style), cut discs and then roll them out. Here are the three stages:
I have never been able to find an explanation as to why this is the traditional method – if anyone knows the reason then please share your knowledge! (NB. Having now made them, I think it might be so that the pastry rises like a cylinder to keep the custard contained, rather than the usual pillowy way puff rises)
This photo (above) shows how many layers of frilly puff pastry you get – it looks rather pretty!
The custard part of the recipe is more involved than a normal custard, but seeing as I didn’t make the pastry it seems almost churlish to complain (the only two pastries I will buy readymade are puff and filo).
The unusual part of the custard recipe is that it uses whipped egg whites as well as the yolk. I found this impossible to fold in to the liquid milky mixture and used my kitchenaid as it was the only way – this meant I ended up with frothy custard! Probably, this was why I couldn’t use all the custard in my pastry cases, so I ladled the leftovers into two bowls and baked them separately. Waste not want not!
It is lucky that this recipe made 24 tarts, because they are extremely addictive. Best eaten slightly warm so the custard retains some squidge; I could eat more of these than I’m happy to admit! One final comment; these don’t keep well (they need refrigerating and the pastry loses its crispness) so you’ll need to eat them on the day of baking...oh, the hardship!
Finally, I’d like to introduce my new kitchen assistant, Alfredo “Al” Dente. Here he is selecting the custard tart he wants!
600g puff pastry (I used 2 packs of pre-rolled, all butter puff pastry which amounted to just over 700g)
250g caster sugar
1 tablespoon plain flour
6 egg yolks
2 egg whites
icing sugar and cinnamon to finish
If you have a block of puff pastry roll it out into a rectangle; mine was pre-rolled.
Roll it up along the long edge into a tight swiss roll shape.
Take the other sheet of pastry and continue rolling the same swiss roll i.e. so you end up with one, really fat roll of pastry.
Chill for 10 minutes.
Cut into 24 equal pieces and roll out a little flatter until they fill your cupcake pans or foil pie tins. The pastry will get sticky with handling so dust it with some plain flour.
Place in the fridge while you make the filling.
Mix the sugar and water and heat gently in a pan until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes – do this over a gentle heat so the sugar does not colour.
Place the flour and milk in a saucepan and bring it to the boil, whisking now and then to ensure the flour is not lumpy.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar syrup. Leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan oven 200°C/ 425°F/ gas mark 7.
When the milk mixture is cool whisk in the egg yolks
In a separate bowl beat the egg whites to firm peaks and then fold into the milk mixture. ( I couldn’t achieve this with a metal spoon so resorted to my kitchenaid – my custard went frothy – thinking about it, I think I should have sieved it to lessen the froth!)
Remove the pastry cases from the fridge and fill them with the custard.
Place any leftover custard in small oven proof bowls and bake after the custard tarts.
Bake the tarts for approximately 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the custard is turning dark brown in patches on the top.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Sprinkle with icing sugar or cinnamon and eat slightly warm.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.