4th July Cheesecake Macarons

♫ Oh say can you see ♫

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I made this recipe using frozen egg whites (which I then defrosted, of course)! Another thing to add to my already overstuffed freezer! And now if you make lemon curd or choux pastry or something and have leftover egg whites you can just dump them in the freezer for A Future Macaron.

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I’m just approaching the end of my first year here in the US and baking ALL the thematic events.

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I prefer French macarons (where the meringue is made by whipping the egg whites with sugar before it is incorporated with almond flour) over Italian macarons (where the meringue is whipped with hot sugar syrup and folded with a blend of almond flour and egg white). Italian macarons are favoured by professionals due to its stability and hence batch-to-batch consistency. But I just think French macarons are easier to make at home since I don’t have to touch hot sugar syrup (which still scares me), and I don’t have a stand mixer. You just have to get over the learning curve with French macarons.

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The cream cheese frosting is my favourite I’ve tried so far! It’s not too sweet, due to the equal ratio of butter to cream cheese. But this time I added milk powder, which adds stability so I can cut down on the sugar, and also adds a DELECTABLE milky cookie-like flavour to the frosting.

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Don’t the macarons kind of look like the Pepsi logo?

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I couldn’t decide if I liked red on top or blue on top better so I made a gif with both (although staring at the flashing colours too long makes me nauseous).

The macaron recipe’s originally from here (although that website is now down so who knows). Just a good French macaron recipe which I’ve used before. I used the cream cheese frosting which I always use, but this time I added some milk powder so I can cut down on the sugar while keeping the frosting somewhat stiff, an idea I got from The Scran Line!

Ingredients (makes about 23 1.5 inch macarons)

Macaron

  • 58g almond flour
  • 115g powdered sugar
  • 72g egg whites
  • 36g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1g salt
  • Food colouring (red and blue if you’re following the USA patriotism/4th July/Independence Day theme, and a bit of black to darken the red)

Cream cheese filling (will make more than you need, but I always think it’s better to overestimate filling)

  • 113g (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature/softened
  • 113g (1/2 block) cream cheese, room temperature/softened (the block kind not the tub kind, preferably Philadelphia brand)
  • 100g powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 25g milk powder (doesn’t matter if skimmed or full fat)

Method

Macaron

  1. Process almond flour and powdered sugar until fine (this step might be optional if your almond flour is fine enough) and sift.
  2. Combine egg whites and beat until small bubbles form. Gradually incorporate sugar, vanilla, and salt, while beating. Whip until stiff peaks.
  3. Dump in dry ingredients at once and gently fold until the dry ingredients are just incorporated with the egg white.
  4. Divide the macaron batter (macaronage) into two bowls. Fold in red food colouring with a bit of black food colouring in one bowl, and blue food colouring in the other bowl. Fold until the macaronage flows like lava, and if you drip a bit back into the batter the drip disappears into the batter after a few seconds.
  5. Pipe the batter onto baking paper placed on a baking tray to form rounds. You might want to print a template out underneath if, like me, you can’t estimate sizes.
  6. Drop the baking tray from a couple of inches in the air onto the counter to burst air bubbles in the macaron rounds.
  7. Let dry for 30mins, or until the macaron rounds are dry to the touch.
  8. Bake at 150°C for 16-18 mins, or until you can cleanly peel the baking paper away from the macarons. (Bake the ugliest batch first to test out the timings)
  9. Cool on pan before removing.

Cream cheese filling

  1. Beat the butter until creamy. Add the cream cheese and vanilla, and beat until light and fluffy.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar and milk powder and incorporate into the cream cheese frosting. Then beat the frosting on high speed until frosting is fluffy and pales in colour.
  3. When the macaron shells have completely cooled, match each red shell with a blue shell of similar size. Then fill the macarons.

Notes

  • Processing your almond flour helps keep your macaron shells smooth. I find that even the almond flour that’s sold as “fine almond flour” isn’t quite fine enough for macarons, but that could be dependent on brand. Large chunks of almonds could also cause your shells to crack. But yeah I didn’t have a sieve with a fine enough mesh in my current kitchen so the shells ended up a bit bumpy anyway.
  • The source I got the macaron recipe from claims that she didn’t have to let the macarons dry before baking, but I have never succeeded in getting a good batch of macarons without letting them dry first. They just end up cracking with no feet. So I’d really recommend letting them dry before baking. If you live in a humid country (like me when I was in Singapore) you could try being in an air conditioned room with a dehumidifier to speed up the drying.
  • I like to mix red food colouring with a bit of black food colouring for the shells to come out more red than pink.
  • Try to dry the macaron shells on the trays that they will be baked on. If, after they are dry, you transfer the shells onto the baking sheet and are not careful, the “skin” on the top of the shell may crack, which may cause a crack in the macaron shell after they are baked.
  • I always thought that macarons tasted better after a night in the fridge once it’s filled. The shells absorb a bit of the moisture and flavour from the buttercream which makes the whole thing taste better and have a chewier texture. But they taste fine on the day as well.
  • If room temperature for you is pretty hot and your frosting gets runny, just stick it in the fridge for like 30 mins for it to stiffen up to a pipeable consistency. This is as opposed to adding powdered sugar to stiffen it up (what I used to do) which just makes the frosting too sweet. Macarons are served chilled anyway, so as long as the frosting is a good consistency chilled there’s no need to overly stiffen the frosting with icing sugar.
  • This might be TMI but blue food colouring turns your poop green, who knew. Probably because it combines with the yellow bile in the stool. The red didn’t seem to have an effect, unfortunately.
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Croquembouche (almost)

Or how I found out I can’t construct a cone.

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I kind of just zoned out in the middle of construction and built a cylinder instead oops. But if you laid out the number of choux needed for each layer at the start you’d probably be able to avoid this mistake and actually build a cone.

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I filled the choux with a crème diplomat, which is kind of like a pastry cream but lighter, and flavoured half of it with nutella and left the other half plain.

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The choux are then glued together with caramel, which also adds some nice textural crunch.

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I made this for my friend’s birthday, and it’s just a less-sweet but equally show-stopping alternative to cake. Because 4 of my friends decided to be born within a month of each other and we were all super caked-out.

I used the same choux recipe like I always do, and used the crème diplomat recipe from here. I used the caramel recipe from here.

Ingredients (makes at least 55 choux with some extra)

Crème diplomat

  • 500ml milk
  • 120g sugar, split into 30g for the milk and 90g for the egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 36g cornstarch
  • 6g gelatin (I used Knox)
  • 24g water
  • 300ml heavy cream (cold)
  • (Optional) 2 tbsp nutella

Choux pastry (Pâte à Choux if you want to be fancy)

  • 180g whole milk
  • 180g water
  • 170g butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 205g all purpose flour
  • 6 large eggs
  • 60g large egg whites (1 ½ large egg whites)

Caramel

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar (500g)
  • 2/3 cup water

Method

Crème diplomat (make the day before)

  1. Soften the gelatin in the water
  2. Heat milk with sugar (30g) and vanilla in saucepan
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar (90g), and corn starch together.
  4. Add ¼ of heated milk to eggs and whisk. (Whisking the egg yolks with the sugar and adding a bit of the hot liquid to it first is called tempering and reduces the chances of scrambling the yolks)
  5. Add the tempered mixture back to saucepan and heat over medium heat until thickened.
  6. Remove from heat and add butter and whisk until incorporated.
  7. Add the bloomed gelatin.
  8. (Optional) Split the pastry cream into 2 portions, and mix 2 tbsp nutella into one of the portions.
  9. Pour pastry cream into large container, cover with clingfilm (making sure the clingfilm is in contact with the pastry cream), and store in the fridge overnight.
  10. The next day, whip heavy cream to soft peaks.
  11. Whip up the pastry cream until soft.
  12. Add 1/3 of whipped cream to the pastry cream and fold.
  13. Add the rest of the whipped cream and fold.
  14. Fill a pastry bag with the crème diplomat.

Choux pastry

  1. Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Reduce the heat to low, and then add all the flour at once.
  3. Beat the mixture very well with a wooden spoon until it leaves a film at the bottom of the pan. Keep cooking and stirring nonstop for another 3 minutes to dry but not colour the dough. At this point the ball should start picking up the dough from the bottom of the pan so there is less of the film.
  4. Take the saucepan off the heat and continue to stir the mixture until it has cooled down enough that you can touch the saucepan with your hands/it’s not hot enough to scramble eggs.
  5. Beat the eggs and egg whites together in a bowl and add the egg mixture to the dough in 3 additions, beating the dough well between each addition. The mixture might look wrong at first but just keep beating until a smooth, satiny dough forms. You know the dough has hit the right hydration when you drop the dough from the spoon and it forms a triangle shape.
  6. Scoop the choux dough into a piping bag and pipe bite-sized rounds (at least 55 choux). Use a wet finger to flatten down the tips of the choux.
  7. Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 30-35 mins, rotating the baking sheets after 20-25 mins if one side starts to brown faster than the other. The choux is done when you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow, and it looks golden brown.
  8. Transfer the choux to cooling racks, and place back in the switched off oven with the oven door ajar to dry the choux out further. Cool to room temperature.
  9. Fill the choux by poking a hole at the bottom of the choux with a chopstick and filling the choux with the crème diplomat.

Caramel

  1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and the water. Draw a spoon through the sugar to make sure all the sugar is wet.
  2. Heat over medium-high heat.
  3. Brush down the sides of the pan with a damp pastry brush (this helps stop the mixture from crystallising).
  4. Allow the sugar mixture to boil for 15-20mins or until pale golden brown.
  5. Remove the saucepan from heat and plunge the bottom of the saucepan in some water to stop the cooking process. Allow the caramel to cool slightly, or until the consistency of maple syrup.

Assembly

  1. While the caramel is boiling, pick out the prettiest filled choux and arrange them in rows of descending number (10, 9, 8…1).
  2. Arrange 10 choux in a circle, making sure the choux are in good contact with each other, and cut out a circular template out of baking paper to the diameter of the circle. This makes construction easier later.
  3. Once the caramel is ready, dip the top and 2 edges of the choux in the caramel. Place the choux on the perimeter of the baking paper template with 1 caramel edge facing down, the top of the choux facing out, and the bottom of the choux (with the pastry cream hole) facing into the circle.
  4. Repeat with the remaining choux to construct a cone, such that there is 10 choux on the bottom-most layer, followed by 9 choux on the next layer, followed by 8, and so on until you top the whole construction with a single choux with the top of the choux facing up.

Notes

  • It is important to work fast when constructing the croquembouche or your caramel will solidify/crystallise and be very difficult to work with.
  • Wearing some gloves while working with the caramel allows you to just immediately remove the glove if you accidentally touch the hot caramel, avoiding burns.
  • Try to eat as soon as possible or the caramel will start to get a bit moist and sticky.

Chocolate Truffles with Coffee Baileys Caramel Ganache Filling

Or how sous vide established itself as THE superior chocolate tempering technique.

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Check out that MacGyvered set-up. INNOVATION.

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So in my previous chocolate truffle recipe, I talked about the different chocolate tempering techniques out there. And how although my previously used technique was easy to accomplish it left me with chocolate that was a little too viscous to work with so the truffle shells were really thick.

Now that I’ve located A Friend with a Sous Vide (TM), times have changed. The chocolate can now be held at the perfect working temperature so filling the moulds with chocolate is a breeze. And there is very little chocolate wastage at the end since you can just squeeze whatever’s left in the sous vide bag into a storage receptacle (or if you have a sous vide bag sealer, you can just store the leftover chocolate in the bag itself).

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Unfortunately this recipe was also when I learnt that cheap Ikea chocolate is – surprise, surprise – really crappy chocolate. The chocolate was not snappy at all fresh out of the packaging, and even when tempered did not set properly and didn’t have a good shine.

In fact the Ikea chocolate tasted exactly like Kinder chocolate which, y’know, isn’t exactly famed for their snappiness.

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Here’s a comparison of cheap Ikea chocolate on the left and good chocolate on the right. The difference in shininess and texture is NIGHT AND DAY.

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Let’s not forget about the filling – a luscious coffee-flavoured ganache with a hint of caramel flavour.

I got the recipe for the ganache filling from here, and decided to splash a bit of Baileys in it because why not.

Ingredients

Coffee Baileys Caramel Ganache

  • 100g dark chocolate (finely chopped)
  • 25g unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 3g instant coffee
  • 75ml heavy cream (subtract 1tbsp if using Baileys)
  • 25g sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp Baileys (optional)

Chocolate shells

  • 200g chocolate (I list the temperatures for milk and dark below)

Method

Coffee Baileys Caramel Ganache

  1. Add the chopped chocolate and butter into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Dissolve the coffee into heavy cream in a saucepan and warm up until just steaming (but don’t boil).
  3. Add the sugar into another dry saucepan at medium heat until it starts melting. Swirl the pan occasionally to ensure the caramel evenly browns (but don’t stir or it may crystallise out).
  4. Once dark brown and aromatic add heavy cream and mix well.
  5. Add the mixture to the bowl containing chocolate and butter and leave for a minute. Then mix well until fully dissolved (if not fully dissolved microwave the chocolate in short bursts).
  6. Add Baileys and mix well.
  7. Transfer to a piping bag, and let cool to room temperature.

Tempering chocolate

  1. Finely chop the chocolate and place into a sous vide bag/plastic bag.
  2. Set the sous vide to 115°F/46°C (if using dark chocolate) or 107°F/42°C (if using milk chocolate) until the chocolate is completely melted. Massage the plastic bag regularly to ensure even heating (and apparently if you don’t massage your bag your chocolate will have weird white spots at the end).
  3. When the chocolate has melted, pour out 3/4 of the water in your sous vide and replace with room temperature water. Set the sous vide to 81°F/27°C and put the plastic bags containing chocolate back into the sous vide. Add some ice cubes if the water temperature doesn’t go back down fast enough. Continue to massage the plastic bags regularly.
  4. After 3 mins at this temperature, set the sous vide to 90°F/32°C (dark) or 84°F/29°C (milk). Continue to massage the plastic bags. After 5 mins at this temperature the chocolate is ready to use.

Chocolate shells

  1. Coat each cavity of your chocolate mould with a layer of chocolate, tapping well to release air bubbles. Then leave the mould upside down, allowing the excess chocolate to drip out. I followed this video. Let the chocolate set.
  2. Fill each cavity with the ganache, making sure that you don’t fill the truffle past the tops.
  3. Cover the truffles with a layer of chocolate, scrapping off the excess.
  4. Leave the truffles at room temperature for about 30 mins so they set up.
  5. Unmould the truffles by turning the moulds over and tapping it sharply onto a surface.
  6. Store truffles in airtight container at room temperature.

Notes

  • See my previous chocolate truffle post on why you need to temper chocolate.
  • If you want to speed up the rate at which your chocolate sets, you can put the moulds in the fridge in short 5 mins bursts.

Éclairs with Earl Grey Milk Chocolate Namelaka

A quick post! I had excess Earl Grey milk chocolate namelaka from when I made chocolate truffles with them, so I whipped up a quick choux since I always have the ingredients for choux around the house!

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If you haven’t heard me gush enough about namelaka, it’s the creamiest most silkiest filling ever (its name means silky in Japanese!) originally developed by Valrhona which still manages to hold its structure due to the incorporation of gelatine (sorry vegetarians).

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I used the same choux recipe as my Choux au Craquelin recipe (Dorie Greenspan’s recipe) and the recipe for the namelaka is the same as I used for my truffle recipe.

Ingredients (makes about 12 éclairs)

Earl Grey milk chocolate namelaka

  • 150g whole milk
  • 8g corn syrup
  • 4g gelatine (I used Knox)
  • 32g water
  • 260g milk chocolate (~38%)
  • 300g whipping cream
  • 6 Earl Grey tea bags

Choux pastry (Pâte à Choux if you want to be fancy)

  • 90g whole milk
  • 90g water
  • 85g butter (3/4 sticks)
  • 3/4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 103g all purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 30g large egg whites (slightly less than 1 egg white)

Chocolate topping

  • 200g tempered dark chocolate (see notes)

Method

Earl Grey milk chocolate namelaka (the night before)

  1. Bloom the gelatine by adding the gelatine to 32g of cold water in a bowl and leaving it aside.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a microwave in 10s bursts, stirring well between each burst. When the chocolate starts to melt, decrease the length of each burst. Alternatively you could melt the chocolate over a double boiler but I always found microwaving chocolate to be way easier.
  3. Add the corn syrup to the melted chocolate and stir to combine.
  4. Heat the milk and 4 of the tea bags in a saucepan until it just starts to bubble. Turn off the heat and let the tea bags sit in the milk for 3 mins.
  5. Meanwhile, heat up the whipping cream in a microwave together with 2 tea bags until the cream is steaming. Let the cream sit for about 5 mins, then remove the tea bags.
  6. Remove the saucepan from the heat and remove the tea bags. Add in the bloomed gelatine to the milk and swirl the pan until the gelatine is fully incorporated.
  7. Pour the milk mixture over the melted chocolate in small additions, stirring to combine well after each addition. Combining the milk with the chocolate slowly and well is essential in making sure the texture is right.
  8. Add the cream into the chocolate/milk mixture in two additions, stirring to fully incorporate after each addition.
  9. Using a stick blender, process the mixture until the mixture is smooth.
  10. Pour the mixture into a shallow container, cover, and refrigerate overnight to let set.
  11. The next day, take the namelaka out of the fridge and stir well to homogenise. If it seems chunky, place in a food processor and pulse briefly to soften up (I didn’t need to do this).
  12. Place the namelaka into a piping bag.

Choux pastry

  1. Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Reduce the heat to low, and then add all the flour at once.
  3. Beat the mixture very well with a wooden spoon until it leaves a film at the bottom of the pan. Keep cooking and stirring nonstop for another 3 minutes to dry but not colour the dough. At this point the ball should start picking up the dough from the bottom of the pan so there is less of the film.
  4. Take the saucepan off the heat and continue to stir the mixture until it has cooled down enough that you can touch the saucepan with your hands/it’s not hot enough to scramble eggs.
  5. Beat the eggs and egg whites together in a bowl and add the egg mixture to the dough in 3 additions, beating the dough well between each addition. The mixture might look wrong at first but just keep beating until a smooth, satiny dough forms. You know the dough has hit the right hydration when you drop the dough from the spoon and it forms a triangle shape.
  6. Scoop the choux dough into a piping bag and pipe medium-sized éclairs (I aimed for 2-3 biters), leaving some space between each éclair.
  7. Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 30-35 mins, rotating the baking sheets after 20-25 mins if one side starts to brown faster than the other. The choux is done when you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow, and it looks golden brown.
  8. Transfer the choux to cooling racks, and place back in the switched off oven with the oven door ajar to dry the choux out further. Cool to room temperature.

Chocolate topping

  1. Temper the chocolate and spread out in a thin sheet over baking paper. Allow to solidify.
  2. When the chocolate is setting up but not yet fully solidified, use a knife to cut out rectangles of chocolate.
  3. When the chocolate has fully solidified peel the rectangles of chocolate off the baking paper and set aside.
  4. Leave some melted chocolate aside to stick the chocolate rectangles to the choux.

Assembly

  1. Take an éclair and make two small holes in the bottom with a chopstick.
  2. Place the tip of the piping bag into the hole and fill each choux well with namelaka, making sure to rotate the choux so you fill all sides of the choux.
  3. (Optional) Cut out a small piece of baking paper and place at the bottom of the choux, covering the hole you used to pipe the namelaka, so the cream doesn’t come back out/smear all over the place.
  4. Add some melted chocolate onto the rectangles of tempered chocolate and stick the chocolate rectangles to the éclair using the melted chocolate as a glue.

Notes

Namelaka

  • It is best to chill the namelaka in a shallow container as apparently the middle doesn’t set properly if the mixture is too thick.
  • If you’re planning on using a different type of chocolate (other than milk) , you’re going to want to add less chocolate with higher cocoa solid content. So add less if you using dark chocolate, add more if using white chocolate. This was a table in the comments section for another namelaka recipe, but I can’t for the life of me figure out the number pattern to adjust it to the recipe I’m using, so use it as a general guide. If you’re using white chocolate you can refer to a previous recipe that I used.

70% 250g
65% 265g
55% 285g
40% 350g
33% 390g

Éclairs/choux

  • This is best served immediately for optimal crispness of the choux, but I refrigerated the choux and they still tasted good the next day.
  • Some alternative ways to fill éclairs is to cut each éclair lengthwise and then pipe the filling in. This would look especially pretty if you pipe the filling with a patterned tip and you’d probably squeeze more filling into each éclair as well. But I’ve always liked the aesthetic of an uncut éclair better (and it’s also easier to transport without smushing the filling all over the container).
  • A more common method to coat the éclair with chocolate is just to dip the éclair into some melted chocolate but again I like the aesthetic of the chocolate rectangles – it’s just an easy way to make the éclairs look a bit neater.
  • A hack to pipe out éclairs is to use a large star-shaped nozzle to direct a circular and even expansion of the éclair while avoiding large cracks in the choux, but I couldn’t find my tip lol.
  • Also a light dusting of icing sugar over the éclairs before baking is supposed to help with improving the colour of the éclairs but I’ve honestly never noticed a difference with or without the icing sugar.
  • Sprinkling your baking tray with drops of water before baking is also supposed to help with crisping the choux but I think the choux is pretty crispy even without this hack.

Chocolate

  • You need to temper the chocolate so it solidifies at room temperature and it stays shiny and pretty. I talk about the methods for tempering chocolate in my chocolate truffles blog post.

Portugese Egg Tarts (Pasteis de Nata)

I’m living out my lamination dreams with Minnesota’s cold winters.

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These tarts are really popular in Singapore, but I never knew what I was missing out on until I actually went to Macau and had the Portugese egg tarts there. These tarts basically have a soft, creamy egg custard with a caramelised top, together with a buttery crunchy tart.

It seems like the Portugese egg tarts in Portugal, or Pasteis de Nata, are kind of different from the ones in Macau though. For one thing, many recipes for pasteis de nata call for cinnamon and lemon to be added as flavourings, which I have not seen in Asia. The filling for Pasteis de Nata are also generally sweeter. Furthermore, in many Asian stores that I’ve been to, the Macau-style Portugese egg tarts use more of a Hong Kong-style egg tart crust which has smaller flakes and is less croissant-like (but I think this is a store to store variation).

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I’m doing more of the Portugal-style rather than the Macau-style tarts here (or trying to at least). The tart pastry for these egg tarts is kind of similar to a croissant dough, but with no yeast. I know some blogs say that using pre-made puff pastry for the tarts can be a substitute, but my recipe source tried that and said it tasted very different and not in a good way.

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Unfortunately, you will need a candy thermometer for this recipe. Someone in the comment section of some recipe somewhere said that she tried to guess when the syrup would be done and her custard did not set properly.

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Ignore the unfilled tart.

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I’ll probably use a broiler next time though to achieve the characteristic shiny top with large patches of caramalisation (see notes).

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Look at that lamination!!

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I really liked how thin and crisp the tart turned out. I know in most commercial pasteis de nata the crust is thicker but I think this thin crust tastes really good and wouldn’t change it.

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I got the recipe from the one constant in my life, Chef John, here.

Ingredients (makes 10, each of my muffin cavity is 8cm wide and 4cm deep)

Dough

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (125g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 stick (113g) very soft European-style butter, room-temperature

Syrup

  • 3/4 cup white sugar (150g)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  • Peel from 1 unwaxed lemon, peeled in large strips avoiding the white pith

Custard

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (42g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Dough (make the night before preferably, or at least 2h before)

  1. Add the dough ingredients in a large bowl. Mix until it just pulls away from the bowl.
  2. Transfer to well-floured surface,  and add some flour on top. Knead the dough for a bit until it looks a bit smoother (low-moderate gluten development, I think if you knead too much it makes the dough harder to work with).
  3. Dust some more flour over the dough ball, cover, and rest for 30 mins.
  4. Transfer the dough ball to a well-floured surface, and roll it out to a rectangle shape about 1/8 inch thick.
  5. Spread 1/3 of your butter to 2/3 of the rectangle, leaving a 1/2 inch unbuttered border.
  6. Do a letter fold (fold the unbuttered 1/3 over the buttered surface, and then the buttered 1/3 from the other end over that, I have a gif in my croissant post).
  7. Turn the dough 90° (seam side up), and flour the surface a bit more.
  8. Roll it out to a rectangle shape about 1/8 inch thick.
  9. Add half of the remaining butter to 2/3 of the rectangle, leaving a 1/2 inch unbuttered border.
  10. Do a letter fold.
  11. Chill the dough for 10 mins.
  12. Roll the dough out to a square about 1/8 inch thick.
  13. Spread the remaining butter over the whole square, leaving a 1/2 inch unbuttered surface at the top edge.
  14. Moisten unbuttered edge with a wet finger.
  15. Roll from the bottom (buttered) edge, ending with the seam side down.
  16. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Syrup

  1. Add the ingredients for the sugar syrup in a saucepan and stir well.
  2. Heat over medium heat and don’t stir from this point on to avoid crystallisation.
  3. Wait for the syrup to start boiling and reach 210-215°F (100°C) on a candy thermometer.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Custard

  1. In a separate saucepan, add flour, salt, and milk.
  2. Heat over medium heat, stirring well, until thickened.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly (until it’s a temperature that won’t scramble the egg yolks).
  4. Add the egg yolks and mix well.
  5. Add the sugar syrup from earlier and vanilla.
  6. Strain into measuring cup (so it’s easier to pour into the cases later).

Assembly

  1. Take your rolled-out dough out of the fridge. Cut the edges off (but don’t throw it away…just in case).
  2. Cut the log out into 10 equal pieces.
  3. Butter your muffin tin slightly (I think this step is optional but I’m paranoid).
  4. Moisten your fingers in ice water.
  5. Slowly press a dough piece out into the tin, starting with one big press into the center, and trying to press it out at least 1/8 inch past the top. It may seem like it won’t spread out that much, and that you’re destroying your layers, but keep calm and carry on.
  6. If you’re unskilled, like me, carefully inspect your dough cups for holes and plug them with pieces from the cut-off edges. It’s important that there are no holes in the dough or your custard will leak through and burn to the sides.
  7. Fill each cup ¾ full with custard, making sure you don’t drip any custard down the sides outside the tart.
  8. Bake at a preheheated 550°F/290°C/your oven’s highest setting for 12-14 mins, until the butter starts to bubble around the tart, the edges are very brown, and the tops start to brown.
  9. If your oven can only reach 500°F/260°C like me, finish off the tops with a blowtorch. Or you could put the tarts under a broiler until the tops are very brown.
  10. Cool a little before pulling the tarts out to cool over a wire rack.

Notes

  • European-style butter has a higher fat content/lower water content than normal American butter so your croissants are flakier. Although I guess if you’re not in America this is just butter. Basically American butter is about 80% milk fat and European-style butter is like 82-84% or higher.
  • I think I’ll try broiling the tops over using a blowtorch to brown the tops next time because the browning pattern with a blowtorch did not look like how I wanted it to look.
  • Don’t overfill your cups because the pastry shrinks a bit and the custard rises a lot.
  • Unwaxed lemons usually means organic lemons. If you can’t find unwaxed lemons you could try lightly scrubbing a lemon under warm water.