Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another unfortunate side effect of Hong Kong........... my continued craving for sweet, sweet Cantonese egg tarts. I've never had anything quite like these before our trip to Hong Kong, but it's clear we were made for each other. Do not adjust your monitors--that supernaturally dense, rich sticky yellowness, that melted-yellow-crayons-in-a-pie-crust appearance that shouldn't be appetizing but somehow is--that really is how they are supposed to look. I discovered these at our favorite bakery two blocks from the hotel we were staying in and, like I said, promptly fell in love. At $2 Hong Kong (about 25 cents) each, it wasn't hard to convince myself to get one for breakfast...or lunch....or dinner........or a midnight snack.............

Contrary to their super-yellow appearance, there is no artificial coloring in these whatsoever. That somewhat scary hue is due to the very same thing that gives them their rich, sticky egginess: a custard rich in egg yolks. You know how farmer's market eggs always have those carrot-orange yolks compared to the plain yellow of supermarket yolks? Well these, I have to admit, were made using ordinary supermarket eggs...I'd love to try them with those velvety orange yolks I've picked up at the farmer's market, just to see how vivid I can get these tarts! Will keep you posted.

Some egg tart recipes I've seen call for evaporated milk, and you're welcome to try them, but I don't tend to keep evaporated milk on hand in the kitchen, and I didn't feel like making a special trip to the grocery store. I do, however, usually have milk or cream and sugar, and I had great success with this recipe. I should also point out that the goal here is to cook the custard gently without browning the top (this preserves that beautiful yellow color.....for Portuguese/Macanese-style egg tarts with browned tops, try Rasa Malaysia's excellent version) and most importantly, without superheating the custard so that it puffs up and then--NOO!!--explodes. Since the custard bakes at a relatively low 300 degrees, this should be no problem. Just trying to scare you. Ha.

For the tart shells: I always use Martha Stewart's classic Pâte Brisée recipe. All hail Martha. Press a small amount into mini-tart pans to form 6 tart shells. Makes about 6 mini tart shells.

For the custard filling:

1.5 C whole milk (at room temperature)
2 whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks (at room temperature)
1/3 C sugar
1/4/ tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly beat all egg ingredients and press through a mesh strainer to remove any solid bits. Add milk and beat quickly by hand or in electric mixer on medium-ish speed for about a minute. Add sugar and vanilla, beat for another minute and let sit for ten minutes. Pre-bake tart shells in tart pans for a few minutes until pastry begins to stiffen and just barely turn brown. Remove and lower heat to 300 degrees. Returning to custard mixture, skim off any foam resulting from the beating, and pour custard mixture into into tart shells. Bake at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until custard mixture has set (you can test this by jiggling the tart pans slightly, the custard shouldn't move). Remove, let cool, enjoy for breakfast...or lunch......or dinner......or a midnight snack............


  1. That is my go-to recipe for pastry dough, as well! I've used it so long I have it memorized and have convinced myself it's my own recipe. ;-)

  2. Martha really is the queen of all pastry.........