The thought of making egg tarts (or dan tat), a baked pastry with egg custard, has never crossed my mind even though it’s one of my favourite Chinese pastries. I always thought it would be too difficult to make, that is until recently, when my friend sent me a recipe and said it wasn’t hard at all. But this was right before all the holiday craziness, so I glanced at the recipe briefly and it got temporary lost in my inbox…..
….until the other day, as I was eating the sausage rolls I made, the puff pastry reminded me of the crust of egg tarts. The scientist in me hypothesized that puff pastry can be a substitute for the pie crust that was called for in the recipe. If so, this would be a win win since I was out of sausage filling, but still had half a pack of puff pastry left which, according to the packaging, had to be used within 2-4 hours after thawing. And so began the egg tart experiment.
Prior to any good experiment, protocols are reviewed to understand the purpose of each step and the expected outcomes. The materials that are needed are gathered. During the experiment, the protocols are followed strictly and observations are made. And at the end of the experiment, all the data gathered during the experiment is compiled, reviewed and analyzed and conclusions are made.
For this particular experiment, the protocol or recipe (from Rasa Malaysia I think) is as follows:
- Buy mix or pre-made or find recipe to make from scratch
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup of sugar (or slightly less if you don’t like your Portuguese egg tarts too sweet)
- 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup of milk
- 3 drops of vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Butter the muffin pan.
- Follow pie crust instructions then roll the dough and cut or roll to form 12 balls.
- Use an electronic hand beater to beat filling ingredients for about 3 minutes and strain the filling through a strainer. Set aside.
- Flatten the dough balls into small rounds and fit them well into the muffin pan by pressing firmly on bottom and side (do not over stretch).
- Fill the pie crust dough with the egg mixture (about 80% full).
- Bake the egg tarts at 400F for about 15-20 minutes or until the filling turn brown.
So how did it go? During the experiment, I created a lot of bubbles while mixing the filling on med-high speed and didn’t strain the filling because I didn’t have a strainer. I also omitted the greasing the muffin tin step, which I didn’t think was necessary based on my previous experience with puff pastry. As I was making the filling, I observed that it was very much like crème brûlée, with the same ingredients (egg yolk, whipping cream, sugar). I also made the filling first and then rolled out the dough. While the egg tarts were baking, I noticed that the filling expanded and then collapsed upon cooling. After the egg tarts came out of the oven, the filling was not the usual yellow colour of egg tarts, but was instead brown and a little burnt. What had gone wrong? Was it due to the bubbles and not straining?
In retrospect, I had made two critical errors. The first being not paying attention to the protocol closely, which said it was a recipe for Portuguese egg tarts, not Hong Kong style egg tarts, which are eggier, less creamy and made with shortcrust pastry. Portuguese egg tarts have a custard centre that is like crème brûlée in consistency and caramelizes during baking, which is consistent with my observations. The other critical error that I made is not doing my research or literature review prior to the experiment, to see if there’s already data out there to support or refute my hypothesis. Had I done this, I would have found out that this experiment has already been done. Portuguese egg tarts are commonly made with puff pastry. I’ve been scooped! I guess I wasn’t so clever after all.
So what is the conclusion? Was the experiment a success or did it fail? It depends on how you think about it. I didn’t discover a new way to make the crust for egg tarts, so I’m not going to become rich and famous and be able to quit my job. Gosh darnit! But the egg tarts were delicious, even though the recipe wasn’t followed to the T. I would like to say it was a success!
Now, what do I do with the leftover egg whites?
Notes and Tips:
I used Tenderflake puff pastry, which comes in 2 squares. I divided 1 square into 6 and rolled out each piece to make 6 egg tarts, but I found the resulting crust to be a bit on the thick side. I also halved the ingredients for the filling and I used skim milk. The packaging for the puff pastry said it had to be used within 2-4 hours after thawing, but I stored it overnight in the fridge after thawing before using and it turned out fine.
Love your use of photos! I hate it when people just take 8 pictures of the final product from different angles. Yours were useful.
thanks, but i have to admit i’ve been guilty of taking lots of photos at different angles, except i try not to post more than 4. =D
They look wonderful – I love the photographs too. Homemade pie crust is a must for me 🙂
thank-you! i’m sure it would taste even better with homemade pie crust!
I’m glad that you did the egg tart experiment…as the results look delicious. I think using store bought crust is perfectly fine, especially with puff pastry.
thanks! have you made puff pastry before? i’m afraid to try.
Looks delicious! If I was capable of doing more than making a mess in the kitchen, I’d try it asap!
believe me, i always make a mess in the kitchen! 🙂
Dan tat, ho mei ar! Whenever I’ve attempted to make some they always resemble Portugese style egg tarts, yours look delicious. (Also, thanks for the comment on my blog!)
thanks for the compliment!
Thanks for stumbling through my blog! When I came across yours! I loved!!! Because I love cooking this will help me with future food recipes 🙂 Egg tarts are awesome!
thanks! i hope you like the other recipes. let me know how they turn out.
These look so tasty! Will add these to my “To try” list for sure. Thanks for stopping by my blog!
they are tasty! hope you like it!
This sounds really interesting. I’ll have to give this a try.
let me know how it turns out. 🙂
Your egg tarts look good to me. I’d never heard of them before. Your photos are great.
I understand about your thoughts on the recipe. I think most of us have our own expectations of recipes and sometimes they don’t turn out like we expected but still taste great and sometimes not.
thank-you! i hope and pray each time i try a new recipe that it at least turns out tasting okay enough to eat. i hate to waste food!
Looks like something that would be easy for my kiddos to eat…and delicious! YUM! Thanks for sharing!
i hope the kiddos like it! 🙂
That looks delicious! Gotta try!
did you give it a try? how did you like it? 🙂
I thought these sounded a lil’ weird at first, but after reading your post, I’ve decided they look and sound delicious! thanks for sharing! 🙂
thanks for the honest feedback! i hope you give it a try to see if you really like it. 🙂
love egg tarts. always wanted to try to make them. this inspires me to give it a go.
let me know what recipe you use and how it turns out. 🙂
Yum, these have been on my wish list of things to make for years but I haven’t gotten around to it. Yours look perfect.
thanks! i hope you give it a try. 🙂