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Pastéis de Nata (Custard tarts)

The original recipe of Pastel de Belém, comIng from the Jeronimos Monastery, located in Belém area, is a heavily guarded secret by the master confectioners of  Fábrica dos Pastéis de Belém.
These pastries are baked, in the current  premises since 1837, according to the monastery’s secret recipe.
Although they may seem similar, the Pastéis de Belém, only sold at Fábrica dos Pastéis de Belém, and Custard tarts (imitation of Pastéis de Belém), sold everywhere, are different both in filling and texture of the pastry puff.
The Pastéis de Belém and the Pastéis de Nata are the ex-libris of Lisbon, regarding to gastronomy.
Annually takes place the contest "The Best Pastel de Nata", to assess this popular specialty


Pastry puff
300 g all-purpose flour
250 g puff pastry margarine
1/4 teasp. salt
50 ml water

. Mix the flour, salt, and water until a soft pillowy dough forms.
. Divide the margarine into 3 portions. Roll out the dough, spread 1/3 of margarine over it and roll up like a carpet. The pastry must be folded and rolled at least three times. Let rest for 20 minutes.
. With a rolling pin, roll out dough into a rectangle.
. Cut dough into slices about 2 cm thick.
. Put each slice on a muffin tin, allow the dough pieces to soften several minutes until pliable, press each round into each tin.

1/2 lt cream
9 egg yolks
10 tablesp. sugar
icing sugar

. Make the custard in a bain-marie (a bowl over boiling water), mix the sugar, egg yolks and the cream very well whisking all the time until it comes to a boil and thickens.
. Allow the mixture to cool down and pour into the pastry cases.
. Put in the pre-heated oven at 290º C, bake until the pastry is golden and the custard turns dark brown in patches (about 15 minutes).
. Remove the pastries from the oven, lift them out, sprinkled generously with icing sugar and cinnamon and serve warm or cold.