This time, last year, I was getting ready to board a flight and embark on a 14 hour plane ride to China. We weren’t planning on going this year anyways (we had a trip planned to Spain), but it still brings back fond memories for me! I especially miss all of the food we had; you can check out that post here if you want :)
Anyways, all of the nostalgia eventually prompted me to get out of my bed and exit out of Tiktok, and I proceeded to head to the kitchen to make 蛋挞, or Hong Kong egg tart! These are one of my favorite little pastries to enjoy in China, and though my own home cooking won’t ever come close to the ones they make there, it satisfies my cravings just enough. They’re a custard based dessert, made with a puff-pastry-esque crust and a delicate, melt-in-your-mouth egg custard filling. My favorite part is the perfect amount of flaky, buttery deliciousness in the shell. It takes a lot of effort to restrain myself from eating three…or four… or five……
I’ve only had them in China, but these egg tarts actually originated in Portugal (called “pastel de nata”); they are dusted with cinnamon there, which is actually such a genius idea and I will definitely be trying soon! 蛋挞 is also commonly enjoyed at dim sum restaurants, alongside baozi, zhongzi, and lots of my other favorite bite-sized goodies.
If you aren’t super comfortable/familiar with Asian cuisine, try to make some egg tarts! Because they are derived from Western-style cuisine, they aren’t too difficult to make and don’t require any weird steps, unlike many of the other Chinese recipes that I’ve attempted. There are also many great reference videos that have helped me along the way (the recipes are different, but same idea): I love Cooking Tree and also this one!
How to make Hong Kong Egg Tarts (蛋挞):
- The crust is basically just a puff pastry recipe, so no need to freak out! I know you’re probably used to using softened butter for literally all of my recipes here, but make sure the butter is cold!! This is what creates the flaky layers of the pastry, so this is a very important thing to know.
- Cornstarch is optional, but recommended. Since most people don’t have cake flour laying around, adding the cornstarch breaks down some of the harsh proteins in the all-purpose flour, which creates a softer, more tender pastry. However, if you don’t have cornstarch either, you can leave it out; that’s totally fine!
- As mentioned, the cold butter is essential to the crust! Using a fork, I cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembled coarse sand. I also used my hands to break up the larger, more solid pieces.
- Be careful when adding the water; add it a tablespoon at a time! Depending on the humidity in your area, you might need more or less. When everything just about comes together, don’t add any more.
- If my instructions for the folding are confusing, please go look at the reference videos I linked above. This is what helps create the flakiness of the pastry, along with the cold butter. Roll the dough into a rectangle, then fold the top third down to the middle and the bottom part up and over that portion. Then, rotate 90 degrees, and roll back out into a rectangle. Repeat the folding process, and then chill!
How to make Hong Kong Egg Tarts (蛋挞), cont.
- For the filling, whisk the eggs vigorously for a minute or two before adding the evaporated milk. By the way, I made my own (learn how here); I used 1 cup of regular milk to make the amount needed for this recipe
- Dissolve the sugar in the HOT water by stirring, then microwave for an additional minute and continue to stir until there are no sugar granules left.
- Slowly drizzle the hot water/sugar liquid into the egg mixture, whisking vigorously. After everything is incorporated, continue whisking for an additional minute or two. Then, you must strain the mixture to ensure a glossy, completely smooth filling!
- Good news: you don’t need to go buy those egg tart molds for this recipe! Just use a muffin tin and you’re all good :) Admittedly, they won’t look as pretty, but it’s all the same in your stomach anyways.
- The thinner you roll out the dough, the more delicate the pastries will turn out.
- Egg tarts are best enjoyed warm and freshly baked, so enjoy immediately after cooling for 5 minutes!
In lieu of the dark times we are going through, I hope you are all making sure to take care of yourselves. Staying updated on current events is important, but please take frequent breaks from all of the social media toxicity! Amid the coronavirus craziness, I hope My Southern Sweet Tooth gives you a little taste of joy and sweetness. I am always here to spread positivity for myself and for others who are struggling during these weird times we live in.
Give these egg tarts a try, and don’t forget to tag me @mysouthernsweettooth if you do!
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 10 tbsp butter, cold
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp vanilla
- In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients, until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Slowly add in the cold water, kneading with your hands until a dough forms. Cover with cling wrap, and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs and evaporated milk. In a separate bowl, combine water and sugar. Microwave for a minute, and then continue stirring, until the sugar is completely dissolved. While the water is still hot, slowly drizzle into the egg mixture, whisking vigorously. Continue whisking for 1-2 minutes. Then, strain through a fine-mesh sieve to filter out any chunks/impurities. Store in the fridge until later use.
- Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and roll into a rectangle (use your fingers to straighten out the edges, if necessary!) Then fold the top third down to the center and the bottom third up and over that (kind of like a tri-fold). Give it a quarter turn, and then roll into a rectangle, and folding once again in the same manner. Cover and chill for an additional 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 390 degrees. Roll out the dough until it is about ¼ inch thick. Cut circles that are about 3-4 inches in diameter (you should get about 12 from this recipe), and press the dough circles into the muffin tins. Use a fork and poke the bottom of each tart shell a couple times. Then, fill each tart shell to the brim with the egg custard. Immediately transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 355 degrees, and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the tarts; if they start to puff up too much, just open the oven door a little bit, and they should deflate.
- Let cool for 5-10 minutes, and then enjoy while they are still warm!