Portuguese Custard Tarts (Pastéis de Nata)

These Portuguese Custard Tarts, or pastéis de nata as they are known as in Portugal, will surprise you with their delicious taste. Not only is the crust buttery and flakey, but the custard filling is perfectly sweet and creamy. You will be eating like a true Portuguese with this recipe!

Story Behind Portuguese Custard Tarts (Pastéis de Natas)

About 15 years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Lisbon, Portugal. It was my first time in Portugal, let alone Europe. I was beyond excited! This trip was before foodies, TikToks, and blog posts on what to eat there, but luckily for me my husband was prepared.

He served a two year mission for our church in Portugal, and knew that he had to introduce me to these Portuguese Custard Tarts. We wasted no time and got one right away. I was smitten! It was love at first bite. Fast forward to the present, and we currently call Portugal our home, and I can eat them whenever I want.

Since that first pastel de nata, I’ve had the privilege of tasting many Portuguese pastries. However, the pastel de nata remains my favorite. In fact, it had been some time since we had eaten one and while my husband and I were chowing down on one, my husband turned to me and said, “why aren’t we eating more of these?”

I was at a loss for words because I didn’t know the answer and vowed from that day forward to eat more pastéis de nata. With our move back to the USA on the horizon, I knew I would miss these lovely little custard tarts. I decided that I needed to figure out how to make them, but I wanted it to be easy enough for everyone to do so.

I didn’t want to make my own puff pastry, so I figured out how to make these recipe with store bought. While I can just go around the corner to any cafe and purchase one for less than a dollar, this recipe will definitely make do when I am not so spoiled in the US. This recipe is fun and fairly simple to make and I’m pretty sure you are going to love them just as much as me.

Ingredients Needed for Portuguese Custard Tarts

  • Frozen puff pastry- this can be found in the frozen section at the grocery store.
  • Egg yolks
  • Whole milk
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • Lemon
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon

Tools Needed for the Recipe

A traditional Portuguese Custard Tart is cooked in special little pastry tins. However, you can also use a mini muffin tin for a smaller portion, or a regular size muffin tin for a slightly bigger pastry.

You can buy the Portuguese tart molds here.

Or you can use a muffin/cupcake tin for a slightly large pastry.

Or a mini muffin pan can work well for a bite-sized version!

Portuguese Custard Tarts (Pastéis de Natas)

These Portuguese Custard Tarts, or pasteis de nata as they are known as in Portugal, will surprise you with their delicious taste. Not only is the crust buttery and flakey, but the custard filling is perfectly sweet and creamy. You will be eating like a true Portuguese with this recipe!
3 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 24 pastries

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pkg frozen puff pastry
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • cup whole milk
  • 1⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • cup water
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ lemon peel, not zest
  • 6 large egg yolks

Instructions
 

  • About 45 minutes prior to baking, start thawing your puff pastry by taking it out of the box and setting it on the counter.
  • While your puff pastry is thawing, you can start on the custard filling.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the 3 TBS of flour with ¼ cup of whole milk. Whisk until completely combined. You don't want any lumps of flour remaining.
  • Add in the 6 egg yolks and remaining 1 cup of milk to the mixture.
  • In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the ⅔ cup of water, 1 ⅓ cup of sugar, cinnamon stick, large pieces of lemon peel to a boil. Once it reaches a boil you can set a timer for one minute or bring the mixture to 220℉ before removing from the burner. There should be no grains of sugar remaining. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peels.
  • Now we are going to temper the egg mixture with the hot water/sugar mixture. Do this slowly so you don't wind up with scrambled eggs.
  • I like to ladle and add a steady stream of the milk/egg mixture to the sugar mixture while whisking (make sure not the stop). Do this until ⅓-½. of the milk mixture has been added to the hot sugar water.
  • Once you have finished tempering, add all of the "hot" mixture to the remaining milk, making sure to continue whisking.
  • With a mesh strainer, strain the mixture into a new bowl
  • Finally add in the 1 tsp of vanilla and ¼ tsp of cinnamon and whisk well. Set aside.
  • Preheat your oven to 475°. That's right, these are cooked at a very high temperature.
  • You can lightly prepare the molds by wiping them with butter, but don't use cooking spray. This step isn't necessary, but can help with easier removal.
  • Take your puff pastry and roll it out to about ¼ inch thickness. Roll it up tightly as if you are making cinnamon rolls, using the longest side.
  • Cut puff pastry circles about a ½ inch in thickness and place one disk into each mold.
  • Once you have enough puff pastry discs cut, it's now time to spread them. I find this part really fun!
  • Dip your thumbs into water so the dough doesn't stick to your fingers. Then stick both thumbs into the middle of the puff pastry disc and spread the dough out and up. It should be thin and reach the top.
  • Fill the pastry mold ⅔ of the way full with the custard mixture. Make sure not to overfill them because they will spill out as they bake if you do so. If using the special pastry molds, place them on a cookie sheet and then place them in the oven.
  • Bake for 15-17 minutes. Don't be alarmed if you see some black spots, that's actually what they look like in Portugal. However, you don't want to burn the entire top.
  • Once they have cooled, carefully remove from the molds or cupcake pan.
  • For a real treat, sprinkle them with a little bit of cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Special Instructions for using cupcake pans.

  • If you are using a normal cupcake pan, you may need to increase the cook time by 2-3 minutes. The centers should be firm and not jiggly.
  • If you are using a mini cupcake pan, decrease the time by 2-3 minutes and look for the firm centers as well.

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Comments

    1. If you made them in a mini cupcake pan, you will definitely have custard leftover as the recipe is written for the actual Portuguese tart pan.

  • 1 star
    I completely disagree with you. I took a cooking class in Lisbon where we made these. No puff pastry or cupcake tin. The dough was made by hand and there is a specific tin for these that is different then a cupcake tin.

    1. Hi Karen, I never at any point said these were authentic. In fact, I address and urged my readers to order the Portuguese tart pans (which are in fact the same size as a normal cupcake pan). This is an easy version so my readers who don’t want to make a from scratch pastry dough can still have a taste of Portugal. All of which is addressed in the blog post. However, with that said, I’ve made these for several people here in Portugal and they couldn’t even tell they were homemade. I hope you’ll give them a shot.