Custard tarts wind up the dim-sum meal
WHEN the dim sum cart rolls by we tend to focus on the savory dumplings, but there is a sweet side to the experience.
Violet Sunada called to ask for a recipe for the little custard tarts -- Dan Ta -- that polish off the dim-sum meal. She said her daughter, Natalie Dowland, had been searching for a recipe.
I went through a dozen or so in dim-sum cookbooks and made three batches to settle on this recipe. It borrows the most from "Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch" by Ellen Leong Blonder (Clarkson Potter, 2002) and "Dim Sum" by Rhonda Yee (Taylor and Ng, 1977).
I wanted a pastry made with shortening (almost all the recipes called for lard) and to use a standard muffin tin, not special tart molds.
Some tips: For a smooth custard, let the milk and eggs sit out for a while -- don't use them straight out of the fridge. And skim off any impurities before baking. Handle the dough lightly and roll it thin. Because they're so small, you don't want a chewy dough to overwhelm the custard. A little experience with pie-making helps a lot. Also, an empty tuna can is about the right size for cutting the dough.
Dim Sum Custard Tarts
2 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups whole milk
» Pastry shell:
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sifted flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup ice water
Set out eggs and measure out milk. Let sit while making pastry, to take chill off.
To make pastry: Cut shortening into flour. Add egg and sugar, kneading lightly by hand to incorporate. Sprinkle with water, just enough so that dough holds together. Don't over-handle dough or pastry will be tough. Form into ball and chill 1 hour.
To make filling: Beat whole eggs and yolks with mixer at low speed. Add sugar and milk; beat until incorporated. Let mixture rest 10 to 15 minutes, as you roll out the dough.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to 1/8 inch thin, sprinkling lightly with flour if needed to prevent sticking. Cut into circles 3-1/4 to 3-1/2 inches wide (an empty tuna can works well as a cutter). Press dough into ungreased muffin tins. It's OK if dough doesn't reach the top of the muffin cups.
Skim top of filling to remove any foam or pieces of yolk or whites. Pour filling into pastry shells, almost to top. Bake 30 minutes, or until custard is set.
Cool slightly. Insert a knife blade to loosen tarts from pan; they should pop out easily. Best served warm. Makes 18 to 24 tarts.
Nutritional information unavailable.
» Troubleshooting: The custard should be smooth and glassy. If yours isn't, try reducing the heat to as low as 300 degrees.