How I adore “natas”… These lovely, fluffy, pastry-filled-with-vanilla-cream parcels are by far my favourite off all Portuguese desserts. The original recipe goes back to the 18th century, and was originally created by nuns at the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, Lisbon. This has always been the pastry to eat in the patisserie surrounded by family and friends or quickly for breakfast, standing up and holding a cup of strong espresso. My father always favoured this pastry too. I remember, after Sunday lunch we would go downstairs (we lived above my grandmother’s patisserie), the adults would have coffee, the children some lemon peel tea but almost all would have in their hands a warm “nata’, fresh from the black iron trays which would come out of the oven steaming. Today I present you with an easy recipe for “natas” with a twist: I have added some passion-fruit pulp which scents and compliments beautifully the custard of these ancient and delicious sweets.
Passion Fruit “natas”
350g of good quality puff pastry
4 egg yolks
250g of sugar
1 tbsp of corn flour
4 drops of vanilla essence
250ml of double cream
100ml of whole milk
Pulp of three passion fruits
Pre-heat the oven at 350 ºC.
Roll out the pasty onto a slightly floured surface. Using a circular cutter, cut discs of pastry of no more than 7 cm of diameter. Butter a 6 muffin tray, and line each compartment with a disc of pastry. Set aside.
In a pan, place the cream with the milk and the vanilla essence. Let it simmer, when little bubbles start to appear on the side of the pan, remove from heat and set aside.
In a bowl whisk the yolks with the sugar till it resembles a white and fluffy paste. Add the cornflour and mix well. Place this mixture into the pan, add the passion fruit pulp and slowly cook on a medium heat, till this custard thickens. Remove from the heat.
Fill each compartment of the muffin case with one and a half tablespoons of custard and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, till the pastry is golden and the top of the custard is slightly toasted.