Pastéis de Nata

pasteis de nata portuguese pastry

Pastéis de nata

We were going to Cape Verde to explore the islands, and on the way, we decided to stop in Lisbon for a few days. I had always wanted to visit Portugal. The city did not disappoint.

cape verde boa vista

Boa Vista, Cape Verde

I loved the history found everywhere, the architecture, the old part of town with its tram and hilly streets,” my mum told me after she and my dad returned from the Portuguese capital only a month ago. I was not surprised; my mum is a walking encyclopedia, a sucker for anything historical.

Oh, I am glad! And what about the food, did you like it?

Yes, we really ate well.

And so did we when we traveled to Lisbon. That was already a few years ago.

We liked the simple meals we ate in unpretentious restaurants, because this is the food we wanted to taste there. Often, there were grilled fish, vegetables and potatoes. And then, we sampled appetizing desserts, like the traditional Pastéis de nata.

Traveling to Lisbon

I’ve often wondered what it is that I like the best about this delicious Portuguese specialty. The lightness of the puffed crust, or the custard-like flavored flan?

Probably both.

pastéis de nata portuguese pastry

So when our New Zealand friends P. and G. called last Saturday to say there were going to stay with us on their way to NYC, I was excited. We had not seen them since our last trip to Australia last year, and I loved the idea to have an opportunity to cook for them.

Ideas for our dinner kept coming in my head, and I started to get confused, as it often happens when I want to do more than I can accomplish in a given time. I hesitated a lot on the main course but dessert was easy. I had been craving une tarte au flan (a flan tart) for a while now. Pastéis de nata was a great choice.

Although my recipe is perhaps not resembling the original in the method — and I am sure I still need a lot of practice to achieve perfect-looking pastéis de nata — I loved everything about them: the taste of lemon, vanilla and cinnamon of the flan, the smooth texture of the custard, the puffiness of the pastry.

What is this?” my friend P. asked when she caught sight of the pastéis arranged on a cake stand on the kitchen island. They were one of the first things you noticed walking into the kitchen.

I smiled. “Our dessert. A specialty from Portugal.

Then I continued on. “I have not made them often before, so you will be my guinea pigs tonight!

She laughed.

And I was relieved to see an empty plate after dinner.

pasteis de nata portuguese pastry

Pastéis de nata

(For about 12 to 14 pieces, muffin size)

You need:

  • 1 package (17.5 ounce) frozen puff pastry, thawed OR fresh
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in halves and seeds scraped
  • Zest of 1 organic lemon
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks + 1 egg

Steps:

  • Heat the milk — with the vanilla pods and seeds, lemon zest and cinnamon stick — to a boil, then stop the heat, cover and let infuse for 20 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla pods, and filter the milk.
  • Pour the milk into the pot again and add the sugar and cornstarch; mix well. Bring to a gentle boil, while stirring, for the cream to thicken (a few minutes), and then let it cool (10 minutes).
  • Then add the eggs, and mix well.
  • Preheat your oven at 480 F.
  • Roll the pastry in the shells, and fill with the cream, leaving a little room from the top.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or so, until the top has a nice golden-brown color. Remove and let cool. You will see the flans deflate, and this is totally normal. We enjoy them at room temperature.
Le coin français
Pastéis de nata

(Pour environ 12 à 14 gâteaux, de la taille d’un muffin)

Ingrédients :

  • 1 paquet de pâte feuilletée, décongelée ou fraiche
  • 500 ml de lait entier
  • 1 gousse de vanille, coupée en deux et grattée
  • Zeste d’1 citron bio
  • 1/2 bâton de cannelle
  • 30 g de maïzena
  • 150 g de sucre de canne blond
  • 3 jaunes d’oeuf + 1 oeuf

Etapes :

  • Dans une casserole, versez le lait — ajoutez la gousse de vanille, les graines de vanille, le zeste de citron et la cannelle — et amenez à ébullition. Arrêtez le feu, couvrez et laissez infuser pendant 20 minutes. Enlevez la gousse de vanille et la cannelle; filtrez le lait.
  • Versez le lait à nouveau dans la casserole et ajoutez la maïzena et le sucre; mélangez. Amenez à ébullition, tout en remuant avec une cuiller en bois, pour que la crème épaississe (en quelques minutes); laissez refroidir (environ 10 minutes).
  • Ajoutez les oeufs et mélangez bien.
  • Préchauffez le four à 250 C.
  • Etalez la pâte et foncez des moules à muffin. Remplissez de crème — arrêtez à 5 mm du bord supérieur.
  • Faites cuire pendant 15 minutes, ou jusqu’à ce que le dessus soit bien doré. Sortez les pastéis de nata du four, et laissez refroidir. Les flans vont déglonfer, ce qui est normal.
Posted in Breakfast, Cakes, Dessert, Food & Travel | 48 Comments

48 comments

  1. Yes-these look wonderful and I think I could attempt them too! I love anything bite size like this-reminds me of the pasticcini in Italy

  2. c’est un dessert que j’adore pour en avoir souvent dégusté ! j’ai bien envie de tester ta recette … a bientôt

  3. I love it when you bake! Very pretty photo, the blue and the yellow. And Portugal too!
    Have you seen any of the PBS show, Spain…on the road again, Sundays I think. Food and travel, what could be better?

  4. Yummy! They remind me of those little custard-filled tartlets you can get in dim sum places. Funny how different cultures often come up with similar types of foods (witness the dumpling).

    Lovely photos, too.

  5. These are very popular here in Brazil as well (we were a Portuguese colony for many, many years). Yours look so pretty, Bea! Love the styling.

  6. PORTUGAL! i spent my culinary dream-weak traveling from Porto to Lisbon while I lived in Paris last week. Bacalhau COD every night for a week! I love the Portuguese language…

  7. A manger sur la tête d’un galeux. Un dessert que j’apprécie tout particulièrement et dont je profite à chaque fois que je vais chez ma soeur. Les meilleurs que j’ai mangé étaient fait à Lisbonne. Un vrai délice.

  8. Beautiful as always. This pastry looks tempting, I’m going to try out this recipe one of these days…

  9. Oh… Pastéis de Nata! :D I reallly love them, despite they often got forgotten in the vitrines of our bakeries. That’s one of the things, I believe, you can’t get as good as here!
    Love, Dragonfly

  10. Oh, I love these! I used to live next to a Portuguese bakery, so I had them often, but I’ve never made them. I’ve never come across a printed recipe, so I’m very glad to find your recipe! I’ll try it soon!

  11. We call these Portugese egg tarts. While these can be found in Singapore, the really good ones in Asia are those from Macau, China! They are a pleasure to eat!

  12. bea, this is close to my heart. I spent a summer working in pastry outside of lisbon in sintra. we made tons and tons of pasteis de nata. warm out of the oven are like a piece of heaven. beautiful!

  13. Bea, these look and sound amazing! Would you please give a bit more detail as to how to roll, cut, etc., the pastry sheet.
    Thank you.
    E

  14. À voir les magnifiques photos, je me doutais bien que la pâte n’était pas sans gluten. Je ne crois pas qu’il serait possible de faire d’aussi jolis tartelettes, mais je vais essayer autrement. Ça m’a l’air tellement bon!

  15. Pastéis de Nata! Love those! It’s been too long since I made or ate them!! Lovely recipe Bea! Oh that blue…my heart just skipped a beat!! Love it!

  16. Bea, you baked pastéis de nata! Those have so many names when it comes to English – portuguese tarts, cream caramel tarts, custard tarts, etc. – I was so happy you kept the original (portuguese) name! There are zillions of recipes, each slightly different, depending on origin or the pastry chef. My favourite are pastéis de Belém, but those, of course, would feel ‘insulted’ if called regular pastéis de nata and -hélas – they don’t share the recipe! Lovely photos, as usual. :-)

  17. I found your site and I am truly in love with it! One of the best sites I have ever found. You look like you walked out of the “French Woman Don’t Get Fat book”, lol. You’re the best!

  18. Hi Bea,
    I read your post regularly, I am in love with your art of cooking and photography (Because of your lovely pics, I’m toying with the idea of buying my first DSLR, although I know nothing about photography!), but I had never posted before.

    I am Portuguese and I love pastéis de nata, specially those Suzana mentioned (pastéis de Belém) and you have portrayed them beautifully.:)

    Thank you!

  19. J’ai la recètte depuis quelques mois, mais je n’ai jamais eu le temps de l’essayer. Je dois la faire après avoir vu tes photos!

  20. Your pictures are absolutely amazing. You could sell the black and white one.

    I also love your site. If you’re ever in Rome and would like to see the medieval village of Casperia, send me an email. We also do terrific cooking classes.
    Ciao,
    Bill

  21. Hi Bea,

    I apprecitated a lot your phots from Lisbon. Having been there one year ago I really remembered one location.
    All the best
    the marsupial Barbara

  22. You impress me!!! What an inspirational blog- your photos are always perfect and it is something I am striving to achieve, being a French Gal living in Japan I found many cafe and bakeries here have a heavy French influence. Some ingredients are hard to find.. You recipe above, with the teal accents in the background…delish, the vanilla pods are so expensive here but gosh this recipe looks so utterly awesome…

    Thank you for sharing your finds and travels with us..

  23. Love the extra big size picture, almost look like real life food that I can just pick from my monitor. :)

    Envy your travels.

  24. I am so envious B, I have never made it to Portugal (but have to Cape Verde!) in all my travels. Your photos are lovely as usual.

    –Marc

  25. Hi Bea :) I am your usual reader and I am portuguese ( http://littlebirdtoldme.wordpress.com ), so I was surprised with this recipe. Anyway, well, the PASTEIS DE NATA are not exactly as they originally are, as you say, but yours looks good too; I don’t know if you’ve been in Lisbon, but if yes, did you tasted the PASTEIS DE BELEM?? They are closely looked like PASTEIS DE NATA, but much more tasty, and creamy and when you eat them yet warm… huuuummmm delicious! They are extremely popular and all the people who comes to Portugal goes there… well, actually, even the portuguese are aaaaalways eating that delicious pasteis. So be welcome to Portugal and go to Belem you didn’t tasted them yet ;)

  26. Pingback: {pasteis de nata} « Mil Folhas

  27. Hi!
    If you don´t want the to look that curled there is one trick you might want to try: roll the puff pastry in a nice rectangle and then roll it. Then cut slices (thin ones) and press them with your finger (and some flour if needed) onto the moulds. The pastry should be thin. Then proceed as stated (fill up to 3/4 etc). The oven should be very hot.

  28. Mais quelle réussite, ils sont superbes tes pasteis, j’adore ça!!! Et tes photos, elles sont splendides!!!

  29. Bea,

    I visited Lisbon exactly 1 year ago and fell in love with the city–and the country! I definitely had my fair fill of these little pastries and was so excited to see this recipe! I may just have to revisit my Lisbon adventures at home. ;)

    Thanks,
    Kasey

  30. Parabéns e Obrigada!
    (Congratulations and Thank you) for spreading the love of pastéis de nata … as a portuguese girl studying in the US I truly miss being able to walk into a café and have thousands of beautiful (and yummy) pastries to admire (and eat)…. I love your blog – your beautiful pictures help me relive the memories (“matar saudades” as we say) and the recipes are inspiring – hopefully some day I’ll have time to execute them (I always seem to have exams!)

  31. I’ll have to try these. I remember a delicious item (can’t remember the name) that was like an english jam tart (individual size) filled with custard and the top burnt black. They made them in the bakery under where I was staying so I’d be woken early by the most amazing smell!

  32. Hi, I’m from Lisboa, and I’m glad to see people from other cultures and countries appreciating the Portuguese food. Than you so much,
    Your photos are amazing! Congratulations.
    Bjs

  33. Hi! I’m a regular reader of your blog, and I loved the post that you wrote about Pasteis de Nata, because I’m also portuguese.
    Hope you enjoyed Lisbon. You must come back to Portugal, but to visit the north area: Oporto (the city where I live), the Douro Valley and other amazing views!

  34. Hi! I’ m come from Poland, and I really like your blog. You are a brilliant photographer and your pictures are amazing. I admire your work and I wish you other success.
    M

  35. excuse me~hi~~^^ when i use computer, luckily i found your blog~!
    i am very happy~~^^
    i from korea~~!^^ do you know korea??~!
    oh, sorry, i 18years old girll ~! i dream foodstyilst~!^^
    i hope you~!!!!!!you happy~^^
    bye bye~ thank you~~^^

  36. I just purchased some nice puff pastry and hadn’t decided what I was going to make. I work with quite a few Portuguese people and they will love these. Thanks

  37. Trust you to have this delicious dessert on your blog with a cute twist in it. Your recipe also look easy to follow.

  38. Pingback: « JF partagerait appartement » – quelques petites annonces | Chez Laurène – L'épicerie

  39. I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and I’ve reading it since, trying not to miss any amazing story (or recipe). I am from Portugal, from Lisboa and you can actually see my house in that viewpoint photo =) I can’t tell how much I appreciate your compliments to our food. I am really proud of it! Pasteis de Nata are one of landmarks along as one of my favourite sweets to go with an espresso (a very Portuguese combination). Anyway, I just want to congrat you with your blog. You are an inspiration to anyone who tries to go fresh and homemade (like myself). And thank you so much for the French inspiration! My husband is Belgian and any help in that department is a bless.
    I wish you all the happiness in world. To you and your amazing family.
    Tânia

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