Sweethearts and Sweet Tarts

This past Sunday morning Mike and I were fortunate enough to wake up on our own accord as Nana and Papa had graciously taken the kids on an over-nighter. While I do miss their happy little faces and morning hugs, every now and then it’s pure bliss to wake up to your own internal alarm clock. Mike and I even slept past seven a.m.!

After lying in bed for a while we got up, ate breakfast at a leisurely pace, watched some news, did some reading, made some coffee and then decided to bake together before the kids got home. We put on some classic rock and got down to making our next Portuguese recipe, Pasteis de Nata, or custard tarts.

We started by whisking together a few egg yolks, corn starch, sugar and half & half in a saucepan over medium heat. Many of the recipes called for using either all milk (skim, whole, 2 percent), or a combination of heavy cream and milk. I know some of the professional chefs out there are cringing, but we went for the fat-free half & half just to be a little healthier. 

Mike managed the custard, bringing it to a boil and stirring as it thickened.

When it was done, we transferred it to a heat-proof bowl and added in the vanilla. We also thought zest from one orange might be a nice addition to the custard.

As the custard sat aside, covered in plastic wrap to keep it from forming a skim, we turned our attention to the pastry. First we preheated the oven to 375F and greased a 12-hole muffin tin. Now, many of you know how much I love to make pie and pastry crusts, but for this recipe we went the simple route and used store-bought puff pastry. I’d never tried it before and was kind of curious about it. We used one sheet and sliced it in half. We then placed one half on top of the other.

Next we rolled the pastry into a log, beginning from the short end of the pastry stack. Once rolled, Mike sliced the pastry log into 12 half-inch pieces.

I then laid each piece flat on a lightly floured surface and rolled them out into four-inch circles.

We tucked the circles into the muffin tin and began spooning the cooled custard into each tart.

When we had all of the custard divided equally into the muffin holes, they were ready to bake.

The tarts baked for 25 minutes at which point they were golden brown. We removed them from the oven and set them aside for five minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

While the tarts cooled, we mixed together some powdered sugar and cinnamon and dusted them over the tops of the tarts. (If you have a cooking torch, browning the tops would be a nice touch as well.) Mike and I then sat down and ate a few right away. A little dessert for brunch never hurt anyone right!

The tarts were warm, rich and absolutely full of creamy goodness. It was all we could do to stop ourselves from eating too many. They easily garnered a 4 spoon rating from us. They were quite a treat and something we probably never would have thought to try – so thank you Portugal! And while I still prefer to make my own pastry, I have to say that the store-bought variety wasn’t all that bad.

As for the kids, we shared these with them after our baked cod dinner as you may remember. Mr. N thought they were pretty good, but a bit too rich and sweet for his taste. He gave them 2-1/2 spoons. Miss A, after finally deciding to eat her cod, took a few quick finger licks of the custard. She seemed to be considering whether she liked it. Then, well, you can see for yourselves…

She licked that tart clean and then devoured the pastry. Yep, you could say Miss A agreed with her mom and dad and gave them 4 spoons. Now, somehow or another, Mike and I were able to restrain ourselves and saved a few of these in the fridge. We ate a couple for dessert last night and wouldn’t you know they are even fabulous right out of the fridge. Warm or cold these Portuguese pasteis de nata are a decadent, rich and down right delicious dessert – and making them isn’t a bad way to spend a lazy Sunday morning. 

Print this recipe: Pasteis de Nata

55 comments on “Sweethearts and Sweet Tarts

  1. Lisa says:

    I must have missed this post, these are so adorable! I can’t wait to make these! Great pic of your hubby in the kitchen! :)

  2. A_Boleyn says:

    I ran across these tarts when I was looking for a Hungarian egg tart recipe to fill a request of my SIL. They looked very tasty though not exactly what I was looking for. I am curious about the orange zest curls on top. Were they only a decoration or did you actually eat them? I could see eating candied orange peels but not the raw ones.

    • Kristy says:

      The orange curls were just a decoration for the photo. I haven’t attempted candied orange peels yet, but they would sure be good with these tarts. :)

  3. The Hook says:

    “After lying in bed for a while we got up, ate breakfast at a leisurely pace, watched some news, did some reading, made some coffee and then decided to bake together before the kids got home.”
    How often can you say this?
    Awesome post!

  4. Ameixinha says:

    Hi, i´m from Portugal ande here we call these small cakes: Pastéis de Nata :) They are simply delicious!

    • Kristy says:

      Thank you for catching my spelling error! I’m going to fix that right now. And I agree with you completely – they are simply delicious! :) Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Dawn says:

    Looks delicious Kristy – nice job!!!!

  6. Jo says:

    We love your pictures and recipes and would love
    to invite you to register with foodepix.com and upload your pictures.

    Hope to see you there. :)

  7. Sleeping past 7 is on my dream list ..but I think I may have to waiit till the kids get married lol
    I love these sweet tarts and I would probably eat them exactly as Miss A did :)

  8. Sometimes the dogs let us sleep until 8! These look wonderful!

  9. I want to make these right now Kristy! I have never made my own puff pastry…have you? I’ve made lots of other kinds of pastry but not puff…I don’t know why it sort of scares me. Your custards look incredible!

  10. sallybr says:

    Oh, you have NO IDEA how much I want to make these! My Grandparents – Mom’s side – were from Portugal, and finally in 2003 I had the chance to visit Lisbon for the first time. I had pasteis de Nata in the most famous place that makes them, and honestly, I thought I had died and went to heaven with the first bite

    ever since that day, I crave them, and wonder how to make them at home –

    I promise, I am making your recipe before the end of 2011 – I am here making a public commitment!

    Lovely post, as usual…..

    • Kristy says:

      Oh what fun! I’d love to try an authentic version of these. They were just so good. Nothing like what I was expecting! And Lisbon is a place I’d love to visit someday. If you make them at home, keep in mind you can play around with the pudding ingredients (milk, half & half, heavy cream, etc.). :) Let me know if they live up to the real ones. :)

  11. TasteFood says:

    These are adorable and dangerous – I know I would gobble them up!

  12. TC says:

    Those look amazing. So envious of your sleeping past seven. Looking forward to when the kiddos are old enough to sleep over at their grandparents.

    • Kristy says:

      I can’t recommend the sleepovers enough! The kids love it, grandma and grandpa love it, and I know as parents we sure love it! It’s totally refreshing! :) Thanks for stopping by and commenting. The tarts were definitely delicious! I know we’ll make them again. :)

  13. Curt says:

    These look awesome. I agree, it’s nice to have a little me time once in a while.

  14. ChgoJohn says:

    These sound tasty and look even better, Kristy! The photo of Miss A licking the tart is priceless. That Li’l One is something!

  15. Karen says:

    The tarts turned out beautiful. Charles comments really made me laugh about getting the baking done so early. It just shows how some extra time sleeping can add to the day’s accompaniments. Good for you!

    • Kristy says:

      LOL! I laughed too. I’m usually up around 6 with the kids, but Mike usually lets me hang in bed until 7:30 and he gets up with them. Getting to wake up on our own after 7 – that’s something special. ;)

  16. mary says:

    Ohhh those look good! lovely ingredients and lovely little tarts – so glad you had a chance to catch up on your sleep!
    Mary x

  17. This looks delicious! I don’t make a lot of custard based desserts, but this looks quite tempting.

    • Kristy says:

      The only other custard based desserts we’ve made are lemon bars. This was our first truly custard tart. It’s not something we ever would have thought to make, but we’re sure glad we did. That’s why we do these little adventures! Always something new. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! :)

  18. Kelly says:

    Another great post title. These tarts are gorgeous Kristy & Mike! I love how the pastry hangs over the cups – it gives the tarts such character. And how about those lemon zest swirls (curled to perfection :)) over the white dusting of sugar – great job Kristy!! How nice that you and Mike had a leisurely wake up and morning together (isn’t sleep the best?). That last photo is smashing Kristy.

    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Kelly! Leisurely wake up is wonderful! Especially on a weekend when you don’t have to rush off anywhere. And as for the zest curls, you know I got the idea from you. :)

  19. They sound magnificent! These little dreamy tarts I’m sure will be a hit with my family. I know I already love them. You’re description has me positively ravenous! Yum!

  20. spicegirlfla says:

    I smiled as I read this remembering those rare moments of waking to no little responsibilities!! And then missing them at the same time! It’s a healthy, well needed break on both ends. Kids need to have that time with grandparents and other family; I think its so important. And what also is so important is you and your hubby collaborating and working (playing) together in the kitchen! I love it! I’ve always been the cook but I’d love to have a cute sous chef in there with me!! These look really delicious and so pretty with the sprinkling of powdered sugar!

    • Kristy says:

      You know it is a mixed bag isn’t it. I can sleep longer, but I don’t think I sleep as well when they’re not down the hall in their little beds. :) But yes, having the kids know and enjoy their grandparents as much as they get to is very important. We’re really lucky we live so close to them all now!

  21. Liz says:

    Oh, I’m so impressed that your hubby cooks with you!!! What fun! Your tarts sound fabulous…LOVE the touch of orange….mmmmmm.

    • Kristy says:

      Cooking together is by far one of our favorite things to do. When we first met Mike did all the cooking as I didn’t really enjoy it. Oh, how times change. :)

  22. What heavenly little treats and how fun that you got the evening and morning off to spend time together. :-) Mandy

  23. Hi Kristy, I’ve never used puff pastry this way. What gave you the idea to roll, slice and roll?

    • Kristy says:

      The recipe that we used did it this way. I have to admit I was very confused by it at first. I’m glad Mike was there to help decipher it. ;) I had never done it this way either, but it made it really easy to roll the dough into circles.

  24. Charles says:

    Assuming your microwave clock is correct then you’re still pretty insane – 9.37 and you were already busy baking in the kitchen? Damn. My idea of a lie-in on a weekend is like 10, 11 (maybe 1, 2 :p ) – The joys of being a parent I guess – no more lie-ins, for the rest of your life, ever!

    The tarts look great – what’s not to like? Pastry… woo, custard, double-woo – I was going to ask if you’d added vanilla because I couldn’t see any pods, but then noticed that you had used vanilla extract. Did you know you can make your own vanilla sugar with a left-over vanilla pod? Once you’ve cooked it up with milk and so on for custard, just remove it from the liquid. Rinse off the milk and stuff, dry it thoroughly and place it inside a sealed container with maybe ~3dl (1.5 cups I think) of sugar and leave it for about 4 weeks. After that time you’ll have some lovely home-made vanilla sugar.

    Anyway, the tarts – they look really professionally made, especially considering you did this at 9.30 in the morning (I can’t believe you were able to watch news, eat breakfast, AND read a bit all before that time… lol) – love the little strips of orange peel on top too – it’s a beautiful finishing touch!

    • ChefDad says:

      Morning Quiet >>>>>> Morning Sleep (for me, anyway)

      • Charles says:

        Yeah – I can see the attraction. I don’t even have kids yet and even I wake up sometimes around 11 or 12 feeling depressed as hell because I’ve already missed half a day. Sitting, relaxing and just enjoying the morning sounds equally nice sometimes. My father used to (not so much now he’s retired) enjoy waking up at 5 sometimes just to sit and have breakfast in peace and quiet by himself before all the noises and hassles of the day started.

        • Kristy says:

          Ooh 5 a.m. Yeah, that’s way too early for me. Unless I’m on vacation that is. For some reason I have no problem waking up early on vacation. LOL. ;)

    • Kristy says:

      LOL. You’d be amazed at what I have done by 9:37 on most days. ;) But I have to say, I do miss those days of sleeping until noon. I seriously can’t remember the last time I did that. Mike’s offered to let me on the weekends, but my body just won’t do it. Probably because I’m not out until 2 and 3 a.m. anymore! ;)

      I’ve never made vanilla sugar before, but I think it’s something I’m going to have to try! Now I’m going to have to hunt down some pods. Sounds like another shopping adventure! Remind me to tell you about the “Figgy” adventure Miss A and I had sometime.

  25. You know, I sleep past 7 every weekend lol. Yes I know I have no kids so I can do that lol.. but I’m glad you and Mike got some “couple time”. And those custard tarts look amazing! I kept looking at them as if they would leap off the PC screen and land right in front of me lol.. oh well that’s wishful thinking. Well, I see where Mr. N gets his looks from Mike.. they look like twins almost. And I don’t blame Miss A, I would have licked that tart clean too lol. You guys are an amazing family.. thanks for sharing yourselves with us

    • Kristy says:

      LOL! I have to admit…I usually sleep past 7 on weekdays. Mike is kind enough to get up and let me sleep until 7:30. :) And I have those moments of wanting food to pop out of the screen all the time! (Especially recipe Friday!) Thanks as always Kay!

  26. mjskit says:

    I’d probably eat these the same way – inside out. :) What an absolutely delicious treat!

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