½ packet butter puff pastry (I used Paneton)
2 tablespoons cornflour
150ml milk
150ml cream
3 lemongrass stems, bruised
150g sugar
3 egg yolks
icing sugar for dusting

I’ve long been a fan of pastéis de nata, the Portuguese custard tart with crisp pastry and sweet eggy filling, ever since I discovered Lisboa Patisserie on London’s Golborne Road. There is nothing better to have with a strong espresso. It’s pastry that has travelled the world courtesy of Portuguese colonisation or sailing routes, as popular in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Taiwan as it is in Portugal. It does vary though, sometimes the pastry is short crust rather than puff pastry, sometimes the egg has the dark caramelised exterior from the hot oven, at other times it is glossy and plain. I’ve used a bought butter puff pastry here, and have found that it is difficult to get that scorched top in my oven when using muffin tins, however they are still delectable without it, especially when the custard is infused with lemongrass. These are best eaten on the day they are made either warm or cold. However all the components can be prepared the day ahead.


2.With the longest length facing towards you, roll up the pastry into a log.
3.Chill for 30 minutes before cutting into 12 even pieces. Spray muffin tins with oil.
4.Roll out the pastry thinly to 2-3mm or use a tortilla press if you have one, pressing out between layers of plastic (you may need to then roll it out a little bit thinner).
5.Put into the greased tins and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
7.Preheat the oven 200°C.
8.Mix the cornflour in a small bowl with 50mls milk and stir well.
9.Put the remaining milk, and cream in a small pot with 2 lemongrass stems and bring to the boil.
10.Turn off the heat and allow to infuse for 20 minutes.
11.Put the sugar into a pan with 75mls water and the remaining lemongrass.
12.Bring to the boil, simmer for 3 minutes, then turn off the heat.
13.Cool for at least 10 minutes before using.
14.Reheat the milk, add the cornflour mix, whisk briskly and cook for a minute or two until lightly thickened.
15.Add the sugar syrup and whisk to incorporate.
16.Strain through a fine sieve, discarding the lemongrass, then set aside to cool covering the top with plastic wrap so no skin forms.
17.Refrigerate until required.
18.Just before baking, whisk in the egg yolks then pour into the prepared tart shells until three-quarters full.
19.Put into the top half of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until the pastry has coloured and the custard is puffy (as they cool they will sink a little).
20.Set aside to cool slightly, dusting with icing sugar just before serving.
21.These are delicious warm, but can be served cold. Best eaten on the day they are made.

Recipes & food styling Ginny Grant / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Ellen J Hemmings

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