Did you hear? The winning $336 million Powerball jackpot ticket was sold in my hometown of Newport, Rhode Island. At MY grocery store. I was convinced my mom had won.
The gears in my brain started turning. What would I do with my cut? I would totally pay someone to redesign this blog. And obviously I would get Andi some physical therapy to regain use of her injured leg.
I would also fly back to the Northeast on a whim whenever I wanted some pastéis de nata, or Portuguese custard tarts, because they’re such a pain to make. They’re available in all the bakeries in nearby Fall River, Massachusetts, but no one here in Austin has heard of them.
Unfortunately my mom didn’t win— she bought her ticket at the other Stop & Shop. So I’m stuck making custard tarts from scratch when the craving strikes.
Pastéis de nata are buttery pastry cups filled with dense, eggy custard flavored with vanilla and cinnamon. They’re baked at a high temperature and get a little charred on top and around the edges. I figured Fall River native David Leite would have a reliable recipe, and I wasn’t disappointed.
I won’t post the lengthy recipe and directions, but here are some helpful tips:
1. You can use the dough blade of a food processor to mix the dough if you don’t have a standing mixer.
2. Don’t worry about making perfect pastry dough. David says that the secret to flaky pastry is evenly layered butter, as well as rolling the dough thinly and folding it neatly. I’m not patient enough and did none of these things. I rolled the dough out with a vodka bottle.
3. Remember you’ll need to refrigerate the pastry dough overnight or at least for a few hours before using it.
4. When pressing the dough into the muffin tins, don’t press it too thinly. Otherwise the custard will leak through the bottom, and the tart will fall apart.
5. I didn’t bother with a thermometer to gauge the temperature of the custard. I just waited until the syrup boiled for a few minutes before whisking it into the milk.
6. The tarts commonly found in Fall River are larger than those in this recipe, so I used a regular muffin tin. It yielded about 18 tarts.
I don’t think my shortcuts affected the final product, but a vavo might disagree. My friends gave them rave reviews, and they reminded me of the real thing.