Egg tarts, wibbly wobbly perfection

When lard is the new black. Recently, I've been asked to write a few recipes on dim sum party for a friend for a shoot. The recipes must be idiot-proof, stripping down to the bare minimum and can be easily re-created in the home kitchen. So, here i go about testing some before hand. A question loomed over me. Can I use lard? You need lard to make good chinese pastry. Lard is the secret weapon that converts the plain janes to goddesses, taking food to the new level on cloud nine. Then again, you got to pay for some lux right?! The French uses more fat (heaps of lard too) then you can imagine. That's why their pastries are so deliciously famous.

In Hong Kong, eggs tarts are a culture on it's own. You can't end a yumcha session with a finale of egg tarts. Then, the 3.15 teatime treats of egg tarts and milk tea or coffee, and the late morning treats. There are two schools of egg tart. The traditional  with a eggy, wibbly, wobbly center and the other, burnt, caramelized Portuguese tarts. And down the stream of the traditional egg tarts, There's the flaky crust and cookie-like crust. 

Remembering correctly, the last time I've made egg tarts was when I am 16 in Melbourne. Ignorantly following a recipe from a book that also feature sweet and sour this and stir-fry that, I use frozen puff-pastry dough and the egg tarts came out totally lacking in authenticity. I realized this book is like the Chinatown English version menu. You want to make it like the real thing, you got to make it from scratch and with the so forbidden lard. I will rather go buy egg tarts from bakeries then trying to bake at home with frozen dough or no lard. 

I hadn't had any master recipe on egg tarts. In fact, dim sum cooking is quite new to me. But than I eat a lot of them every week so I can taste what goes in it and is just a matter of proportion and skills, not that difficult huh?!. When you google egg tarts, all the recipe claim goodness. Which one is more superior than the other? I've been studying the egg tart recipe for the pass few days. A dozen pages on Safari and more Utubing, mentally tweaking it here and there. Today, I was set on perfecting it. 2 test on the crust recipe. The result? Surprisingly delicate. Crisp light thin shells with loads of ultra smooth barely-set custard. Freshly baked hot from the oven, perfectly paired with a pot of jasmine tea, just in time for 3.15. 

for 12 large egg tarts.
Pate Sucree:
60g butter

30g shortening
30g lard
60g icing sugar
1/2 egg
200g plain flour

20g corn starch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Egg custard mixture:
3 large eggs (total 180g eggs)
100 g caster sugar
200 g hot water
90 g evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon rum essence (get rid of the eggy smell)

Preheat oven at 175˙C 
Cream the butter, shortening and lard with icing sugar and salt with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon over medium speed until the mixture is smooth, fluffy and light in color. Then, add in whisked egg, beat until combine. Add vanilla extract, mix well. Sift in flour in two batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions with a spatula, and make sure all ingredients incorporated. Chill dough in fridge for an hour.

Line dough in the middle of tart tins, one by one. I weigh mine to 25g of pastry in each shell. Lightly press the dough with your thumbs, starting from the bottom then up to the sides. While pressing the dough, turn the tart tin clockwise/anti-clockwise in order to make an even tart shell. Freeze tart shell while making the custard. Freezing the tart shells prevents tart from shrinking.

Making the custard
Add sugar into hot water, mix until completely dissolved.
Whisk egg with evaporated milk. Pour in sugar water. Mix well.
Sift egg mixture twice to get rid of any foam into a tea pot or a squeeze bottle.

Carefully pour egg mixture into each the lined tart shell. Bake for a further of 15-20 mins and on the last 5mins reduce the heat to 165˙C (Time depends on size of tarts and oven) The egg custard should still be a little wobbly in the center. Taking care not to let the custard puff up.

Note: some recipes calls for fresh milk. However, I fine evaporated milk gives a little more depth and richness to the custard.

Till next post, ss.

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