I’m in a book club. An over-the-top book club. Each month we take turns selecting the book, then the hostess also brings snacks which coordinate with the book. One month later when we meet to discuss the book and chose a new one, she also comes up with a little take away and a clever way to discuss the book. This month was my month to host and my book pick was Kitchen Chinese. I selected this book mostly because of the food descriptions, so it was only fitting that I came up with a Chinese snack menu.
I emailed my friend, Delight. It’s true, I have a Chinese American friend who’s real name is Delight and it’s fitting, because she is, in fact, a delight. I’ve known her since elementary school and, since her parents owned a Chinese restaurant, I figured she could help me select some snack recipes for the group. She emailed me several ideas and I chose to make these egg tarts and almond cookies (recipe coming soon). Delight warned me that the tarts are very egg-y and not for everyone, so I decided to make mini-mini tarts, so if my book club folks didn’t like them, they wouldn’t feel bad about not finishing them. After I tasted them, I discovered they weren’t what I thought they’d be at all. At hearing the name, egg tart, I imagined a scrambled egg in a pastry shell. After eating one, I decided they should be renamed custard tarts. The filling tasted more like a flan custard minus the coffee flavor. They are mildly sweet, very smooth and surprisingly delicious. I also think the pastry shells would be even better filled with lemon curd (I will test this hypothesis in the near future).
Bad blogger that I am, the only after picture I took was at book club, but you’ll get the idea. Enjoy and keep reading (not just this blog, but in general).
Chinese Egg Tarts
adapted slightly from this recipe.
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 dash vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 dash vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup evaporated milk
Preheat oven to 390 degrees F. In a medium bowl, mix together the confectioners’ sugar and flour. Cut butter in with a pastry cutter until it resembles course cornmeal. Stir in egg and vanilla until the mixture starts to come together. Mixture will still be mostly dry. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball by gently squeezing the dough together. Form into a ball and refrigerate, wrapped in plastic until ready to use.
In a medium sauce pan, combine water and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring until all of the sugar is melted. Remove from heat. Strain the beaten eggs through a sieve, into a medium bowl (this removes what I call egg mucous – that thick, slimy part of the egg white that never seems to break down). Slowly incorporate the sugar water in a thin, steady stream, while whisking constantly (this prevents the eggs from cooking). Stir in the evaporated milk and vanilla, strain filling through a clean sieve into a measuring cup with a pouring spout. Set aside.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll out until about 1/4 inch thick. Cut flower shapes out (I used a medium-large Adecco flower shaped cutter) and press gently into the well of a mini cupcake tin. You will have to alternate spaces so that the petals have enough room and do not overlap. Press the petals down, gently for form flower pastry cups. Pour custard mixture into formed pastry cups.
Bake tarts at 390 degrees for 12-15 minutes watching carefully to make sure pastry doesn’t burn. Turn the heat down to 350 and continue to bake for 15 minutes with the oven door open, rotating the pan as needed to ensure even browning. The filling will bubble up, but will deflate slightly upon cooling. Remove the pan from the oven when custard appears set. Cool, in pan for 30 minutes. Gently remove the cups (they shouldn’t stick, if you are using a non-stick muffin tin. Store egg tarts in the refrigerator for up to three days. Recipe yields approximately 2 dozen tarts.