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Portuguese Custard Tarts

Portuguese Custard Tarts

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Delight in the simplicity and richness of these Portuguese Custard Tarts, a traditional favorite featuring key ingredients like all-purpose flour, sea salt, butter, milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and egg yolks. Perfect for a sweet indulgence!

Every bite of these Portuguese Custard Tarts takes me back to my grandmother’s kitchen, where the aroma of buttery pastry and sweet custard filled the air. As a child, I would eagerly await the moment when the golden tarts came out of the oven, their flaky crusts perfectly contrasting the creamy, rich custard. This recipe, passed down through generations, is more than just a dessert; it’s a cherished family tradition, a celebration of our Portuguese heritage, and a testament to the timeless joy of baking together. These tarts are not just a treat; they’re a piece of my heart and history, served warm and sprinkled with memories.

Why You’ll Love These Portuguese Custard Tarts

  • Authenticity: This recipe stays true to its Portuguese roots, offering an authentic taste of Portugal’s beloved pastry.
  • Texture Contrast: The flaky, buttery crust perfectly complements the smooth, rich custard, creating a delightful sensory experience.
  • Versatility: Ideal for various occasions, be it a family gathering, a festive celebration, or a quiet afternoon tea.
  • Customizable: Offers room for personal touches with optional powdered sugar and cinnamon toppings.

Ingredients Notes:

Crafting these Portuguese Custard Tarts is a journey through a symphony of simple yet high-quality ingredients. Each component plays a crucial role in creating the perfect tart.

  • All-Purpose Flour: The foundation of the tart, lending structure to both the crust and custard.
  • Sea Salt: A pinch of salt enhances the flavors and balances the sweetness.
  • Butter: Use unsalted and room temperature butter for a tender, flaky pastry.
  • Milk & Sugar: These form the base of the custard, with milk adding creaminess and sugar providing sweetness.
  • Cinnamon & Vanilla Extract: These aromatics infuse the custard with warm, comforting flavors.
  • Egg Yolks: They enrich the custard, giving it a luxurious texture and a rich yellow hue.

Recipe Breakdown:

Creating these Portuguese Custard Tarts is like weaving a delicate tapestry of flavor and texture. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure every tart is a masterpiece.

  • Preparing the Dough: Begin by mixing flour, salt, and water to form a soft dough. Rest, roll, and layer with butter thrice, ensuring even distribution. This process is key to achieving those signature flaky layers.
  • Making the Custard: Whisk flour and milk, then cook sugar with cinnamon and water to create a syrup. Combine these with the rest of the milk, add vanilla, and finally the yolks. Strain for smoothness. This step is where the custard gains its silky texture and depth of flavor.
  • Assembling: Roll the dough into logs, cut, and shape into muffin cups. Fill with custard. The artistry here lies in creating the perfect vessel for the custard.
  • Baking: Bake at a high temperature until the crust is golden and the custard sets with a slight wobble. This is when magic happens, and the tart comes to life.
  • Serving: Enjoy warm, optionally dusted with sugar and cinnamon, where every bite is a harmonious blend of textures and flavors.

Storage Options:

These Portuguese Custard Tarts are best enjoyed fresh, but don’t worry if you’ve got leftovers! Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For longer storage, you can freeze the tarts for up to a month. Just make sure to thaw them in the fridge before relishing. Remember, the fresher, the better for that perfect crust and custard combo!

Variations and Substitutions:

This recipe is wonderfully adaptable. Whether you’re accommodating dietary needs or just getting creative, here are some ideas:

  • Gluten-Free Flour: Swap out the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free blend for a celiac-friendly version.
  • Dairy-Free Milk & Butter: Use plant-based milk and vegan butter for a dairy-free twist.
  • Sugar Alternatives: Replace granulated sugar with honey or maple syrup for a different flavor profile.
  • Egg Substitute: For an egg-free custard, try using a commercial egg replacer or cornstarch.

Portuguese Custard Tarts

Delight in the simplicity and richness of these Portuguese Custard Tarts, a traditional favorite featuring key ingredients like all-purpose flour, sea salt, butter, milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and egg yolks. Perfect for a sweet indulgence!
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 12 Custard tarts


For the Dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour approximately 272 grams
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 14 tablespoons water approximately 207 milliliters
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, stirred until smooth; approximately 227 grams

For the Custard:

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour approximately 27 grams
  • 1 1/4 cups milk divided; approximately 296 milliliters
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar approximately 264 grams
  • 2/3 cup water approximately 158 milliliters
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 egg yolks whisked
  • Powdered sugar optional for garnish
  • Cinnamon optional for garnish


  • Dough Preparation: Combine flour, salt, and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment. Mix for about 30 seconds until a soft and pillowy dough forms, which cleans the side of the bowl.
  • Dough Resting: Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface. Shape it into a 6-inch square using a pastry scraper. Dust with flour, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  • Dough Rolling: Roll out the dough into an 18-inch square. Use the scraper to lift the dough and add flour underneath to prevent sticking.
  • Butter Application: Brush off excess flour from the top of the dough. Trim any uneven edges. Using a small offset spatula, dot and spread about one-third of the butter on the left two-thirds of the dough, avoiding the edge by 1 inch.
  • Dough Folding: Fold over the unbuttered right third of the dough. Brush off any excess flour, then fold over the left third. Pat down the packet to release air bubbles and pinch the edges closed. Brush off excess flour.
  • Second Rolling and Folding: Turn the dough packet 90 degrees to the left. Flour the work surface and roll out the dough again into an 18-inch square. Repeat the buttering and folding process as before.
  • Final Rolling: For the last rolling, turn the packet 90 degrees to the left. Roll out the dough into an 18-by-21-inch rectangle. Spread the remaining butter over the entire surface.
  • Forming Logs: Roll the dough into a tight log, brushing off excess flour as you go. Trim the ends and cut the log in half. Wrap each piece in plastic and chill for 2 hours, or preferably overnight.
  • Custard Preparation: Whisk together flour and 1/4 cup of milk until smooth. In a separate saucepan, bring sugar, cinnamon stick, and water to a boil until the temperature reaches 220°F (100°C). In another saucepan, scald the remaining milk.
  • Combining Custard Ingredients: Gradually whisk the hot milk into the flour mixture. Remove the cinnamon stick and slowly add the sugar syrup, whisking continuously. Add vanilla extract and continue stirring. Incorporate the egg yolks, strain the mixture, and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Assembly and Baking: Preheat the oven to 550°F (290°C) with baking stones inside for at least one hour. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface, cut into pieces, and shape each into the cups of a muffin pan. Fill each with custard and bake until the pastry edges are browned, about 10-12 minutes.
  • Cooling and Serving: Allow the tarts to cool slightly in the pan, then transfer to a rack. Serve warm, optionally sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
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