Many moons ago I lived in Portugal, briefly.
In Porto to be exact and what I remember distinctly were the numerous cafes and a seemingly endless menu of espresso. With hot milk, without, 3/4 shot or 1/2 shot, dash of cold water? and on and on. They take their daily coffee quite seriously and this is where my love of coffee was ignited.
Whatever your poison you will most definitely need a small sweet treat to accompany it. I remember eating croissants with a caramelised orange flavoured coating, so thin that it just added a sweet, slightly crunchy texture to the rich pastry underneath. So good I still think about them.
A treat far more synonymous with Portugal is the custard tart. Pastel de nata. Rich custard encased in crispy puff pastry. They are clever folk those Portuguese.
I made these yesterday after the craving got too much. But be warned, these are best eaten the day they are made so unlike me make sure you have sufficient help to polish these off or they will sit there taunting you until you give in and eat 1 more than you should.
1 packet of ready made puff pastry (the pre-rolled type)
4 egg yolks
125g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod seeds scraped out
1 stick of cinnamon
2 strips of lemon zest
Whisk egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl until pale and thick. Pour cream and milk into a saucepan together with lemon zest, vanilla pod (if using) and cinnamon stick (break in half before adding). If using vanilla extract add this to the egg mixture.
Bring to the boil. Turn off heat and remove the zest, cinnamon and vanilla pod. Pour into the egg mix in a steady stream whisking all the time. Put a tea towel under the bowl to stop it spinning while whisking.
Strain the mixture through a sieve back into the saucepan and using a flat bottomed wooden spoon stir the mixture over a medium heat until it thickens. Pour custard into a clean bowl and place cling film on the surface to prevent a skin forming. Cool completely.
Once custard is cool, heat oven to 180 c.
Grease a muffin pan with a little butter. Take puff pastry sheet and cut it in half lengthways. Place one strip of pastry on top of the other and roll up like a swiss roll. Cut the pastry into 12 pieces. Flatten the rolls of dough and roll them out large enough to line the muffin tray. Lightly prick the pastry with a fork and fill with the custard.
Bake in the oven for 18 to 20 mins until they are golden and the pastry is cooked.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin. Once cooled dust with icing sugar and enjoy.