How to make the most high and fluffy cheese scones for teatime!
A rather Franglais-style cheesecake & ranting over Brexit
Slightly sweet & salty French butter biscuits – just irresistible!
A deliciously zingy, creamy topping for crepes or pancakes this February.
After tasting the exquisite Pastéis de Nata from Comme à Lisbonne in Paris, I just had to make these delicious Portuguese custard tarts at home. Besides, it’s a great egg yolk recipe!
In true lazy gourmet style, I cheat and use ready-made puff pastry. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just remember to use a good quality all-butter puff pastry. I use either defrosted (here in France, Picard do a good frozen puff), or ready-rolled (these are in packets of 230g and so easy to use). If you can’t find ready-rolled, just roll out the pastry to 3-5mm thickness and cut out your circles according to the recipe below.
One factor that’s not easy to control is the traditional extra hot oven needed to make traditional sized custard tarts more genuine looking. As not all of our home kitchen ovens can go up as high as professional ovens to give them that beautifully scorched look, put it as high as you can – and keep an eye on them! I’d suggest 7-10 minutes if it’s very hot, otherwise for about 10-15 minutes.
PASTÉIS DE NATA RECIPE
Recipe inspired by Denise Browning at From Brazil to You, who adapted it from the cookbook, “Cozinha Tradicional Porguguesa”. Denise made mini tarts, whereas I made a slightly bigger, more traditional size like they serve at Comme à Lisbonne. So I used half quantity to fill regular muffin moulds, and cut down the sugar slightly, using a vanilla pod/bean instead of the extract.
Makes 12 tartlets (using 2x 6-cavity non-stick muffin moulds @ 7cm diameter)
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 8-15 minutes (depending on your oven)
4 egg yolks
15g cornflour/cornstarch (a lightly heaped tablespoon)
1 vanilla pod/bean, scraped of seeds*
250ml whole milk
230g puff pastry (1 pack of ready-rolled or a pack of frozen puff, defrosted)
Powdered cinnamon (to serve)
* 1 tbsp vanilla extract
1. Chill a bowl in the fridge. Put the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla seeds (scraped from a pod cut in half down the middle horizontally) in a saucepan and mix well using a balloon whisk until you have a creamy paste. Gradually add the milk, whisking until mixed well together.
2. Put the pan on a medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens. Remove pan from the heat. (If you don’t use the vanilla pod, add the extract at this point). Transfer the custard to the chilled bowl and immediately cover it with cling film to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool.
3. Lightly oil or butter the muffin moulds and preheat the oven preferably to the highest setting – I used 250°C/480°F/230°C mark 9.
4. On a lightly floured surface – roll the pastry if needed – using a cookie cutter or glass (about 9cm diameter, slightly bigger than the 7cm diameter muffin cavity), cut out discs and press them into each cavity. Spoon in the cooled custard about 3/4 to the top then bake for 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them!
5. Leave to cool in the moulds/tins for about 5 minutes then turn them out on to a wire rack.
Serve them slightly warm and lightly dusted with cinnamon.
P.S. As large quantities of egg whites were used for starching clothes in the monasteries and convents around the 18th Century, the monks discovered this delicious way of using up the egg yolks and so a legendary Portuguese pastry was born! And just for the record, I don’t starch hubby’s shirts with egg whites. Macarons are much better fun!
Click here for more about Pasteis de Nata and how popular they are!
Honey Lemon Sablé Biscuits were just asking to be baked. It was a sign: Corsican lemons poking out from an oversized basket, stuck to their prickly leaves. I filled a large bag and, dreaming at the Monoprix checkout, thought about my favourite lemon and passion fruit meringue tart I could make with them. Corsican hubby would be pleased.
Then Lucie suddenly came down with a virus all last week while Mummy bear tried to calm her scratchy throat and racking cough with hot lemon and honey drinks. Finally when the fever subsided after a few days, it was my turn for the symptoms; then Antoine; like crashing dominoes, we were. The lemons didn’t make it to dessert mode – instead these easy Honey Lemon Sablé Biscuits.
The oversized jar of honey, bought from the market at Apt last summer, was also our best medicine. Miel de Garrigues, or honey from the Mediterranean coastal regions from such typical wild shrubs as lavender, thyme, sage, rosemary was the perfect soothing addition to drinks, yoghurts and to coat our favourite weekend brioche (thank you, freezer!).
Feeling sorry for myself (I’m a typical Aries – I’d hate to live with me), I felt the love circulating via friends with hints on the best remedies on Facebook – thank you! Now I’ve discovered Rooibos, that has really helped.
However, I’ve also been thinking about the new website, and so Jérôme’s suggestion, “More egg yolk recipes?” was also welcome. I’ve gradually been building up a list of yolk recipes and you’ll be happy to hear there are plenty more waiting for you in my forthcoming book, Teatime in Paris. Meanwhile I’m adding more to the list here on le blog. After all, we are mad about macarons, and we need to use up these yolks tout de suite.
Luckily I hadn’t lost my appetite. Come teatime this weekend, the end of the honeypot was looking rather concrete and unappetising. With only a few seconds in the microwave, the last of the liquid nectar was just too good to down all in one go, so I found these biscuits on the internet.
I say biscuits with my Scottish accent, my American friends call them cookies, the French call them sablés, so what on earth was I supposed to write as a title? Incidentally, the French refer to them as sablés since as you mix the butter and flour together with your fingertips, it resembles sand (our breadcrumbs reference). Crumbs; isn’t that fascinating?
Honey Lemon Sablé Biscuits
Recipe slightly adapted from 750 grammes French website for Petits délices au miel. I reduced the sugar slightly and added a pinch of salt. I used a stronger honey (like mountain honey) which flavours the biscuits beautifully.
Makes about 40 sablés (depending on the size of your cookie cutters)
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
250g / 9oz plain flour
60g / 2.5oz sugar
130g /4.5oz softened butter (unsalted/doux)
2 egg yolks
2 tsps lemon zest (unwaxed)
3 tbsp runny honey (Accacia)
1. Measure the flour in a large bowl. In the centre, add the sugar, softened butter, lemon zest, honey and salt. Mix all together well with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (or sand – sable – as the French say) then add the egg yolks.
Alternatively, if you have a stand mixer, mix all the ingredients together for a couple of minutes maximum until well blended together.
2. Split the dough into 2, cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan. Remove the dough from the fridge and film and roll out with a rolling pin to about 5mm thickness. Cut the dough using your favourite cookie cutters. Put the biscuits on a baking tray covered with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Bake for 10 minutes.
4. Leave the cookies to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes (this will make it easier to remove them) then cool on a wire rack.
I was planning on coating them with a ginger and lemon glaze but after having tried the first ones, I can honestly say they don’t need any fancy toppings. They are delicious and tasty enough on their own. Although don’t forget the tea! Serve with lemon tea – or why not a warming pot of Ginger Rooibos tea?
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