Festive Baking: Portuguese Custard Tarts

It’s mid November and by now I don’t see any reason why I should hold off any longer from indulging in pre-Christmas activities!

Let the festive baking begin!

I can’t wait to bake all those delicious treats that make this season so amazing: from cinnamon stars and Lebkuchen to mince pies and my legendary Stollen (watch this space!). Joy is upon us!

Every year I make these classics, but I also try and expand my repertoire. So when this month’s Delicious magazine arrived in the post I got very excited. The whole issue is dedicated to Christmas food, and I’ve bookmarked many pages with post-it notes. I always find it quite tough to decide what to make first from my cookery magazines, everything looks just too tempting and good. In the end I often decide to start with the one recipe that enables me to push my culinary skills.

So this time it had to be these festive Portuguese custard tarts.

Portuguese custard tarts had been on my “to-make” list for a long time. I just love these flaky pastry cases filled with oozing custard goodness! To make them festive, this recipe uses a filling of mincemeat.

“Mincemeat?!” I hear many people think! Yes, mincemeat. It has nothing to do with minced meat. At all. This über British Christmas staple is made of a mix of currants, nuts, apple, alcohol and spices. Just lovely. It is the traditional filling for Mince Pies – those xmas shortcrust tarts that invade Britain during the festive season.

If you can’t get hold of mincemeat in your country you can either make it yourself (here’s a recipe that looks good to me) or if you don’t really like currants, why not just add some cinnamon and nutmeg into the custard?! That should give it some festive flavour too.

As for the custard- don’t be scared! Making custard is super easy! I’d never made it before and I was extremely surprised to find out how astonishingly simple it is! Just mix all your ingredients over a bain marie, stir for a few minutes et voilà: you get a lovely vanilla custard, which is miles better than any store-bought version. Come on, give it a try! And if you have any excess custard, you can just eat it with a spoon of mincemeat – pure indulgence! ★

November 18, 2010