Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Egg Custard Tarts) Recipe

Roll and cut puff pastry into delicate rounds, then fill with a rich egg custard and bake until flaky and golden in this classic Portuguese recipe.
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin 

Makes 48
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 12 hours


14 ounces|400 grams all-butter puff pastry, thawed if frozen
1 cup|200 grams granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons|325 ml whole milk
½ cup|70 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
6 large egg yolks
ground cinnamon, for serving



  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry into an 18-inch square. Starting with the edge closest to you, tightly roll the dough into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm, at least 30 minutes and preferably overnight.
  2. Heat the oven to 500°F and arrange the oven racks in the top third and lower third of the oven. Place 2 cookie sheets on the oven racks while the oven heats.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cinnamon stick, and ⅔ cup|157 ml water. Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute. Turn off heat and let stand until you’re ready to use it.
  4. Roll the firm log of pastry on a lightly floured surface until 1 inch in diameter. Trim the ends, then cut the log into ½-inch slices (you should have 48).
  5. Using a rolling pin, roll one of the pastry rounds into a 2 ½-inch circle. Place the pastry into the cavity of a mini-muffin tin, and press to evenly flatten the dough against the bottom and sides of the cavity, extending about 1/16-inch above the rim of the pan. The dough should be about 1/16-inch thick, with the bottom a bit thicker than the sides. Repeat with the remaining dough, chilling the cut rounds if dough becomes difficult to roll. Refrigerate crusts until firm, at least 10 minutes.  
  6. While the dough chills, finish the filling: In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup|250 ml plus 1 tablespoon milk over medium-low until bubbles begin to form around the edges.
  7. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the remaining 5 tablespoons milk. Continue whisking while adding the hot milk in a slow, steady stream. Discard the cinnamon stick from the sugar syrup and whisk the syrup into the milk mixture in a steady stream. Return to the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly over medium-low, until thick, 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Place the yolks in a large bowl. While whisking constantly, slowly stream the hot milk mixture into eggs until fully incorporated, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Pour the warm filling into the prepared pastry shells until they’re ¾ full.
  9. Transfer tarts to the cookie sheets in the oven and bake until the shells are golden and crisp and the custards are golden and darkened in spots, 15 to 19 minutes.
  10. Let cool in the pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then take the tarts out to continue cooling on the racks for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve warm.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This recipe has been reprinted with permission of Abrams Publishing from My Portugal: Recipes and Stories. 

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