Portuguese custard tarts, or pastéis de nata, are one of the most popular desserts in Portugal and around the world. They are made with flaky pastry shells filled with creamy custard and baked until golden and caramelized. They are best enjoyed warm, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.
Mary Berry, the beloved British baker and cookbook author, has a simple and delicious recipe for making these tarts at home. She uses ready-made puff pastry and a few basic ingredients to create the custard filling. She also shares some tips and tricks on how to achieve the perfect texture and flavor for these tarts.
In this article, we will show you how to make Mary Berry’s Portuguese custard tarts step by step, with detailed instructions and photos. You will also learn some variations and substitutions you can try to customize your tarts. By the end of this article, you will be able to make these tarts like a pro and impress your family and friends with your baking skills.
What is Mary Berry Portuguese Custard Tarts Recipe?
Mary Berry Portuguese Custard Tarts Recipe is a simple and delicious way to make these classic desserts at home. They are made with flaky pastry shells filled with creamy custard and baked until golden and caramelized. They are best enjoyed warm, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.
Mary Berry’s recipe for Portuguese custard tarts is inspired by the traditional pastéis de nata, which is one of the most popular desserts in Portugal and around the world. They originated in the 18th century, when monks at the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon used egg yolks and pastry to make these tarts, and sold them to the public to raise funds for their monastery.
Mary Berry’s recipe uses ready-made puff pastry and a few basic ingredients to create the custard filling. She also shares some tips and tricks on how to achieve the perfect texture and flavor for these tarts.
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Why You Love this Recipe
Mary Berry’s Portuguese Custard Tarts are a delightful treat for many reasons:
- Ease of Preparation: They are simple and quick to make, requiring only a few ingredients and basic kitchen equipment.
- Customizable: The recipe is adaptable, allowing for various substitutions and variations to suit your taste.
- Delicious Taste: These tarts offer a perfect blend of crispy, flaky pastry and smooth, creamy custard.
- Suitable for Any Occasion: Ideal for breakfast, brunch, snacks, desserts, or tea time.
- Universally Appealing: A proven crowd-pleaser, these tarts are sure to impress both family and friends.
This recipe combines simplicity with delicious results, making it a must-try for any baking enthusiast.
Ingredients Needed to Make Mary Berry Portuguese Custard Tarts
To make 12 Portuguese custard tarts, you will need the following ingredients:
- 1 sheet of ready-made puff pastry, thawed
- 3 egg yolks
- 115 g (1/2 cup) of caster sugar
- 2 tbsp of cornflour
- 400 ml (1 2/3 cups) of full-fat milk
- 2 tsp of vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of nutmeg
- A pinch of cinnamon
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
You will also need the following equipment:
- A 12-hole muffin tin
- A rolling pin
- A small saucepan
- A whisk
- A sieve
- A small bowl
- A pastry brush
- A sharp knife
- A cutting board
- A wire rack
- A small sieve, for dusting
Instructions to Make Mary Berry Portuguese Custard Tarts
Step 1: Preheat the oven and grease the muffin tin
The first step is to preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan) and lightly grease the muffin tin with some butter or cooking spray. This will help the pastry to release easily from the tin after baking.
Step 2: Roll out the pastry and cut out circles
The next step is to roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface, into a rectangle of about 45 x 30 cm (18 x 12 inches). You want the pastry to be thin and even, but not too thin that it tears easily.
Then, use a sharp knife to trim the edges of the pastry and cut it into 12 equal squares. You can use a ruler to measure the pastry and make sure the squares are even.
Next, take one square of pastry and place it over one hole of the muffin tin, with the corners sticking out. Press the pastry gently into the hole, making sure it covers the bottom and the sides. Repeat with the remaining squares of pastry and holes of the muffin tin.
Step 3: Make the custard filling
The third step is to make the custard filling. In a small saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornflour until well combined and smooth. Then, gradually whisk in the milk, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and bubbly, about 10 to 15 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil or it will curdle.
Once the custard is ready, remove it from the heat and strain it through a sieve into a small bowl. This will remove any lumps and ensure a smooth and silky custard.
Step 4: Fill the pastry shells with the custard
The fourth step is to fill the pastry shells with the custard. Use a spoon or a ladle to carefully fill each pastry shell with about 2 to 3 tablespoons of custard, or until they are almost full. You may have some custard left over, which you can save for another use or enjoy as a pudding.
Step 5: Bake the tarts until golden and caramelized
The fifth and final step is to bake the tarts until they are golden and caramelized. Place the muffin tin in the preheated oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and crisp and the custard is set and browned on top.
Keep an eye on the tarts as they bake, as they can burn quickly. If the tarts are browning too fast, you can cover them loosely with some foil or lower the oven temperature slightly.
Step 6: Cool the tarts and dust with powdered sugar
Once the tarts are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool slightly in the muffin tin for about 10 minutes. Then, use a knife to loosen the edges of the tarts and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Before serving, dust the tarts with some powdered sugar using a small sieve. You can also sprinkle some more cinnamon on top if you like. Enjoy your tarts warm or at room temperature, or store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
What Do I Serve With Mary Berry Portuguese Custard Tarts?
Mary Berry Portuguese Custard Tarts are great on their own, but you can also serve them with some accompaniments to enhance their flavor and make them more filling.
Here are some suggestions:
- Fresh fruits, such as berries, bananas, kiwis, or oranges, to add some freshness and color to your tarts.
- Whipped cream, yogurt, or ice cream, to add some creaminess and sweetness to your tarts.
- Coffee, tea, or milk, to complement the flavor and warmth of your tarts.
- Jam, honey, or Nutella, to drizzle over your tarts for some extra indulgence.
Pro Tips to Make Perfect Mary Berry Portuguese Custard Tarts
Achieve the best results with these pro tips for Mary Berry’s Portuguese Custard Tarts:
- Quality Pastry: Use high-quality puff pastry that’s thawed but still cold for the best flaky texture.
- Rolling the Pastry: Roll out the pastry evenly but avoid making it too thin, which could lead to tearing.
- Pastry Shape: Cut the pastry into squares instead of circles to minimize waste and create a rustic appearance.
- Filling the Muffin Tin: Gently press the pastry into the tin, ensuring it covers the base and sides, with corners protruding.
- Smooth Custard: Whisk the custard ingredients until smooth before cooking on medium-low heat, stirring constantly until thick.
- Straining Custard: Pass the custard through a sieve to ensure a lump-free, silky texture.
- Filling the Shells: Fill the pastry shells nearly to the top, allowing room for the custard to rise and caramelize.
- Baking: Bake in a preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until the pastry puffs up and the custard sets with a golden color.
- Monitoring: Keep a close eye on baking to prevent burning. Use foil or reduce oven temperature if necessary.
- Cooling: Let the tarts cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.
- Final Touch: Dust with powdered sugar and cinnamon before serving warm or at room temperature.
Following these tips will help you create Portuguese Custard Tarts that are as delicious as they are beautiful.
Variations of Mary Berry Portuguese Custard Tarts
You can make some variations of Mary Berry Portuguese Custard Tarts, by using different types of pastry, sugar, milk, flavorings, and toppings, to create your own versions of these tarts.
Here are some ideas:
- Pastry Alternatives: Beyond ready-made puff pastry, try homemade puff pastry for a more authentic touch. Alternatively, shortcrust or filo pastry can offer unique textures and flavors.
- Sugar Varieties: Replace caster sugar with granulated, brown, or coconut sugar to alter the sweetness. Adjust the quantity to taste, but remember that sugar aids in custard caramelization, affecting both color and flavor.
- Milk Options: While full-fat milk is ideal for a rich, creamy custard, alternatives like skimmed, almond or coconut milk can be used for different dietary preferences.
- Flavoring Twists: Experiment with flavorings other than vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Options include lemon zest, orange zest, cardamom, or rose water. Adding liqueurs like port, brandy, or rum can introduce an interesting depth to the custard.
- Additional Toppings and Fillings: Enhance the tarts with fruits, nuts, or chocolate chips either within the custard or as a topping. Incorporate fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or cherries into the custard. For toppings, consider almonds, pistachios, walnuts, or a drizzle of melted chocolate or caramel sauce for a luxurious finish.
How do I store Mary Berry Portuguese Custard Tarts Leftovers?
If you have any leftovers of Mary Berry Portuguese Custard Tarts, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Here are some tips on how to store them properly:
- Let the tarts cool completely on a wire rack, before storing them in the container.
- Do not dust the tarts with powdered sugar or cinnamon, until you are ready to serve them, as they will absorb the moisture and make the tarts soggy.
- Place a piece of parchment paper or wax paper between each layer of tarts, to prevent them from sticking together or losing their shape.
- Keep the container in the coldest part of the refrigerator, away from any strong-smelling foods, to preserve the freshness and flavor of the tarts.
How do I reheat Mary Berry Portuguese Custard Tarts Leftovers?
If you want to reheat Mary Berry Portuguese Custard Tarts leftovers, you can do so in the oven or the microwave.
Here are some tips on how to reheat them properly:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and place the tarts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.
- Bake the tarts for 5 to 10 minutes, or until they are warm and crisp.
- Alternatively, you can microwave the tarts on a microwave-safe plate, covered with a damp paper towel, for 10 to 15 seconds, or until they are warm and soft.
- Dust the tarts with some powdered sugar and cinnamon, before serving them warm or at room temperature.
How do I make the pastry for Portuguese custard tarts?
You can make the pastry for Portuguese custard tarts by using ready-made puff pastry, which you can find in most supermarkets. You just need to roll out the pastry thinly and evenly, cut it into squares, and press it into the holes of a muffin tin. Alternatively, you can make your own puff pastry from scratch, or use other types of pastry, such as shortcrust or filo.
How do I prevent the custard from curdling or burning?
You can prevent the custard from curdling or burning by whisking the ingredients well before cooking them, and stirring them constantly over medium-low heat until they are thick and bubbly. Do not let the mixture boil or it will curdle. You can also strain the custard through a sieve to remove any lumps and ensure a smooth and silky custard. To prevent the custard from burning in the oven, you can cover the tarts loosely with some foil or lower the oven temperature slightly if they are browning too fast.
- Related: Mary Berry Coconut Tarts
How do I know when the tarts are done?
You can tell when the tarts are done by looking at the pastry and the custard. The pastry should be puffed and crisp, and the custard should be set and browned on top. The tarts should have a scorched or caramelized appearance, which is characteristic of these desserts. You can also insert a toothpick or a knife into the center of a tart, and it should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
Can I make the tarts ahead of time and freeze them?
Yes, you can make the tarts ahead of time and freeze them for up to 3 months. You can freeze them either before or after baking, depending on your preference. If you freeze them before baking, you can bake them straight from the freezer, adding a few minutes to the baking time. If you freeze them after baking, you can reheat them in the oven or the microwave, until they are warm and crisp.
Mary Berry’s Portuguese custard tarts recipe is a simple and delicious way to make these classic desserts at home. They are made with flaky pastry shells filled with creamy custard and baked until golden and caramelized. They are best enjoyed warm, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.
You can also make some variations and substitutions to customize your tarts according to your preferences and availability of ingredients. You can use different types of pastry, sugar, milk, flavorings, and toppings to create your own versions of these tarts.
We hope you enjoyed this article and learned how to make Mary Berry’s Portuguese custard tarts step by step. If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below. Happy baking!
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The prep time for this recipe is about 1 hour, plus 1 hour of chilling the dough. The cook time for this recipe is about 25 minutes, or until the pastry is browned and bubbly, and the custard is set and caramelized