>> Thursday, December 31, 2009
As part of Foodbuzz's Tastmaker's program, I recently received a package of Pepperidge Farm's frozen puff pastry. I have been meaning to try to make Chinese egg tarts (Dan Ta) for some time now, but was hesitant about all the messy steps involved with rolling out the shortening (or lard or butter) with flour. This seemed like a perfect experiment - can I use commercial puff pastry to make Chinese egg tarts?
The first thing to do is you have to defrost the frozen pastry. Let it sit out, preferably covered with a plastic wrap, for 30-40 minutes at room temperature.
Next, preheat the oven to 400 degrees as you prepare the custard and the shells.
1 cup milk (heated)
2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs (lightly beaten)
optional: yellow food coloring
Lightly beat the 4 eggs until yolks and whites are mixed, trying not to incorporate air into the egg mixture. Set aside. Heat milk and sugar over medium heat in a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Stir until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Remove the saucepan from heat.
Add the egg mixture in a slow stream to the heated milk while stirring. Continue to stir gently as the egg mixture is being added to ensure proper mixing and to prevent clumps of solid egg bits from forming. Once added, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and let it cool as you prepare the shells.
Note: you can optionally add yellow food coloring if you want the egg tarts to look like the ones you get at dim sum places. I added a few drops, but this is totally optional. Without the food coloring the egg part is a pale yellow color.
Cut out circles with a 3-inch diameter cookie cutter (or just manually cut with a knife, tracing around a bowl).
Press the pastry circle into a normal sized muffin tin, stretching it a bit so that it forms a small cup.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or so.
Cut a small hole in the middle of the pastry (for the filling!)
Fill with the egg custard mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the middle seems set. That's it!
These are pretty tasty. The crust does not taste exactly like a traditional lard-made Chinese crust, although it is flaky and buttery in a similar way. This crust is a bit puffier (to be expected) and the crust-to-egg ratio is a bit heavy on the crust. I was sort of wishing for more egg mixture - maybe I should try to make them taller?
Over all, the puff pastry shell works OK and is a decent substitute. Definitely a workable way to make these if you are in a hurry. It might be interesting to try this same egg custard mixture in different sorts of pre-made pastry shells to see which works best. :)