NZ House & Garden - Country Living - - Romantic Style Home-made -

These sim­ple egg cus­tard tarts are lit­tle beau­ties. Por­tuguese tarts were in­vented cen­turies ago by Catholic monks as a way of us­ing up the yolks left over from the large quan­ti­ties of egg whites needed at con­vents and monas­ter­ies for starch­ing clothes, such as nuns’ habits.

2 sheets puff or flaky pas­try

2 egg yolks

1 whole egg

100g caster sugar

2 ta­ble­spoons corn­flour

300ml cream

100ml milk

2 strips of orange peel (no pith)

1 cin­na­mon quill

½ vanilla bean, split

Spray 9 1/

3 - cup- ca­pac­ity muf­fin tins with a lit­tle oil. Cut 9 cir­cles (about 9cm di­am­e­ter) from pas­try and press gen­tly into tins ( pas­try should al­most reach the top of the tins). Re­frig­er­ate for at least 1 hour.

To make cus­tard for the tarts, com­bine yolks and egg, caster sugar and corn­flour in a medium saucepan. Grad­u­ally mix in cream and milk, stir­ring un­til smooth. Add orange peel, cin­na­mon quill and vanilla bean.

Cook over medium to low heat, stir­ring con­stantly, un­til mix­ture thick­ens and just comes to the boil.

Take off heat and stir sev­eral more times. Dis­card the flavour­ings. Cover the top of the cus­tard with plas­tic wrap to stop a skin form­ing and leave to cool com­pletely.

Heat oven to 220° C. Di­vide cus­tard mix­ture evenly be­tween pas­try cases. Bake 20-25 min­utes un­til tarts are start­ing to colour. Take from oven and leave to sit for 5 min­utes be­fore plac­ing on a cool­ing rack.

Tarts are best eaten at room tem­per­a­ture on the day they are made. The cus­tard will sink into the tarts as they cool, adding to their rus­tic charm. Makes 9

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