Growing up, I would have dim sum after math class on Sundays. It was almost customary to have a serving of mini egg tarts and it's usually the first item brought to the table. Dessert before the main meal was such a delight for the six-year-old me. (It still is, as a matter of fact!) It was the best part of dim sum. I would consistently prefer the buttery pastry over the cookie tart shells each time. If you haven't guessed by now, I love my pastries to be filled with butter. Butter makes everything taste better. That's a fact.
Hong Kong-style egg tarts were a treat in our household, especially the ones fresh from the bakery. A dozen egg tarts would be gone the next day. If I wasn't fast enough to devour or rather inhale the tarts, I would have to wait until next week when my parents went grocery shopping.
The other day, a friend of mine had made the egg tarts from scratch (including the shells) and I was surprised how beautiful they had turned out on the first try. I decided I would take on that venture to tackle the recipe she used from The Woks of Life. I was delighted that the recipe was easy to follow.
Puff Pastry Ingredients
- 1 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 200g unsalted butter, cubed and cold
- 1/3 cup cold water
Egg Custard Ingredients
- 1 cup hot water
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk, room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
Let us first explore how to make the puff pastry dough. I have made it several times before and it does take patience and love. If you plan on using store bought puff pastry dough, speed on ahead and skip this part. I used a slightly different method to make the pastry dough compared to recipe found at The Woks of Life.
In a food processor with the regular blade attached, add flour, sugar and salt. Add in the cubed, unsalted butter from the fridge into the food processor.
Why use cold butter? Having the butter kept cold, rather than room temperature will make the pastry more flaky. Cold butter will not completely mix into the flour and will remain in pea sized lumps. If you imagine rolling the dough, these pieces of butter chunks will become stretched out. When it bakes in the oven, the water content from the butter will turn into steam and puff up to create the layers in the pastry. If the butter is at room temperature it won't be the end of the world. It's a matter of preference. Just look at the layers on the puff pastry and tell me it's not worth all that tender love and care.
Using the pulse function on the food processor, pulse 3-5 times to lightly mix the ingredients. With the motor running, slowly drizzle the cold water until the dough becomes crumbly. Stop the machine and transfer the dough into a mixing bowl. Gather the dough in your hands and squeeze. It should just come together. If not, add a little bit more water. Form the dough into a small rectangle and cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes to allow the butter to rest.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a neat rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Fold the dough into thirds and rotate 90 degrees. Again, roll the dough into a neat rectangle about 1/2 inch thick and fold into thirds. Layers are created and by now, the butter has warmed up. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes before working with the dough again.
While the dough is resting, boil water and measure out 1 cup of water. While the water is hot, dissolve the sugar and let it cool to room temperature. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla and the cooled sugar water together and whisk thoroughly. Strain the mixture to remove bubbles and pour the custard mixture into a measuring cup.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C. Roll the chilled dough to 1/8 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out circles to fit into the aluminum tins or buttered muffin pan. Press the dough into the shells.
Carefully, pour the custard mixture into each tart shell until it's about 80% filled. Try not to overfill, as the custard will expand in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F/200 degrees C and then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C and bake for another 10-12 minutes.
The egg tarts are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle can stand up on its own. If not, bake for another 1-2 minutes until set.
Let them cool slightly before devouring them! Enjoy with a cup of tea.