Monday, June 28, 2010

Un-Portugese Custard Tarts


I am impatient. I like to get things done quickly. This is not good when you're a very messy cook like me, and have to spend half an hour after making something wiping various liquids that have somehow splashed all around the kitchen walls. My mum likens this character flaw to "a bull at a gate". I think it's quite fitting.

And for that reason I have found it very hard to make anything that requires a lot of attention. I tried to make caramels one day and got impatient halfway through after staring intently at the candy thermometer for about 15 minutes, waiting for it to reach the perfect temperature. I hardly ever boil eggs, nope takes way too long, I prefer a quick poach. I tried to make ice-cream one day, and instead of lovingly hand churning the ice-cream every half an hour for 3 hours, I left it alone for an hour or so and tucked right in as soon as it was slightly frozen. And I have always, always avoided making desserts which require eggs to be slowly incorporated into a warm liquid. I can't do slow. Scrambled eggs have always ensued.


Yesterday I decided it was time. It was time that I got out my ingredients prior to cooking, instead of fossicking through the pantry while a hot pan sizzles and burns on the side. It was time that I had everything prepared and ready to cook with at hand. That I could, no I would, make a successful custard that wasn't full of cooked egg lumps. And so I made Chocolate Mandarin Custard Tarts and finally learnt that slow and steady sometimes wins the race.


Chocolate Mandarin Custard Tarts
(adapted from Bill Granger)

For the custard:
55g caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
150g fairtrade chocolate (dark or milk)
3 large egg yolks
185ml pouring cream
125ml water
2 tablespoons coca powder
1 tablespoon mandarin juice
1 teaspoon grated and finely chopped mandarin zest

In a deep cooking pot combine eggs, cornflour and cocoa and whisk until smooth and creamy. Add the cream, water, mandarin juice and zest and stir to combine. Place the pot over a medium to low heat on the stove. Whisk continuously for about 5-8 minutes until the mixture is thick and creamy but still a bit runny.

If you think the heat is too much, turn it down and keep whisking throughout the whole process because if not you will end up with lumps of scrambled eggs and have to start again. When the custard is thick enough, take it off the heat and remove immediately into a cool bowl to stop the cooking process. Leave to cool in the fridge.

For the tarts:
2 sheets of all butter puff pastry, defrosted slightly
1 tablespoon cocoa
+leftover chopped up pieces of mandarin peel

Lay the two sheets of pastry on top of each other and roll over a few times with a rolling pin. Now carefully roll the two sheets up into one tight, long, log. Cut the log widthways into 16 individual portions. You should end up with 16 round circles of pastry.

Roll out each portion with the rolling pin into a circle with a diameter of about 10cm. Place into muffin tins, being careful to softly push the pastry down to knock out any airbubbles. Don't worry if there are folds in the sides of the pastry shells, just smooth them out roughly.

When all 16 pastry shells are in the muffin tins, rub down the pastry with the skin of a mandarin to help distribute the flavour into the pastry. Dollop tablespoons of the custard into each pastry shell. Cook in a pre-heated oven (220 degress celsius, fan forced) for about 15 minutes until the pastry is golden. Remove tarts from the tins and leave to cool (the custard will puff up while baking and sink into the pastry when cooled). Sprinkle cocoa and mandarin zest over the top of the tarts and enjoy.

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