Egg tarts (蛋撻 or egg custard tarts are baked pastries commonly found in Hong Kong and many other Asian countries, which consist of an outer pastry crusts that are filled with egg custard. Egg tarts (蛋撻were introduced in Hong Kong in the 1940s by Chinese tea diners (茶餐廳), one of my favorite place to go after school, with my classmates, to enjoy an afternoon tea. The egg tarts were then introduced in western cafes, bakeries and even dim sum restaurants. Nowadays, there are many variations of these egg tarts, but the traditional ones are the most popular, still. Hong Hong egg tarts have two main type of crusts, they are the “cookie” crusts and puff pastry crusts. Some high-end pastry shops even top these egg tarts with bird’s nest (a delicacy made from the salivary excretions of the swiftlet). I know that doesn’t sound too appetizing but many believe the bird’s nest has many health benefits, such as aiding digestion, alleviating asthma, improving focus, and an overall benefit to the immune system. Although I’m no expert in confirming these health benefits, I can tell you that the bird’s nest is very, very ,very expensive; averaging a whooping $60 USD per ounce (by weight, yes, it’s ounce, NOT pound).
Back to these egg tarts, I personally preferred the “cookie” crust (actually, it a very simple pastry crust) over the puff pastry crust, and it is also the kind of recipe that I’m sharing with you. This crust is buttery, crumbly, crispy on the edges and very delicate. If you preferred the puff pastry ones, by all means go for it. I have yet to attempt to make my own puff pastry, so I don’t have a recipe available. Fortunately, many supermarkets do carry the ready to use puff pastry in the frozen baking/pie crust section to make lives easier. I made these egg tarts in mini size and they are perfect 2-bite treats. My kids love them in minis. Perfect for their little hands and mouths. :) And of course, every thing look super cute in mini size.
The egg custard filling is smooth and soft. The texture resembles crème brûlée or pod de crème, very creamy and not too firm. It’s exactly how a perfect egg tart should be. I love the fact that these egg tarts are made with simple ingredients and they turn out to be amazingly tasteful. It’s best to enjoy them with a cup of hot Hong Kong-style milk tea! These egg tarts surely brings back many childhood memories. All sweet and warm memories.
**Note: In case if you’re wondering how the mini tart molds look like, please click here.
Mini Egg Tarts:
Makes 24 mini egg tarts—2 3/8-inch diameter and 3/4-inch height
Ingredients of crust:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 1/2 ounces (9 tablespoons) cold salted butter, diced
1 large egg, whisked
a dash of vanilla extract
Ingredients of custard:
1/4 cup sugar
6 oz milk
2 large eggs
2 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add powdered sugar, flour and butter . Pulse until the butter is in the size of peas. Add the egg and vanilla extract and process until the dough comes together. Place dough on a floured board and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, work on the custard. Heat milk and sugar in a small sauce pan until simmer, stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat. Whisk egg, evaporated milk and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour into sugar mixture. Sift egg mixtures twice to make custard is smooth.
Preheat oven to 400F. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to around 1/4-inch thickness. Cut dough with a cookie cutter that is about 4-inch in diameter and fit into tart tins. Don't stretch the dough when placing it in the tins or it will shrink during baking. Cut off the excess by rolling the pin across the top of each tins. Line the tart shells with a piece of parchment paper and fill them with rice or lentils. Place on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 8 minutes or until the edges are slight brown. Remove from oven.
Lower oven temperature to 350F. Remove rice or lentils and parchment paper from shells. Fill shells with custard mixture. Return to the oven and bake for another 10-12 minutes or until the custard is set. Cool tarts in the tins on wiring rack for 3-5 minutes. Remove from tin and cool on rack. Best serve warm.