Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

Going out for dim sum as a kid, we would always get egg tarts for dessert. They were my dad’s favorite, and since they came three to a plate I would sometimes split one just for the sake of having something sweet to finish off the meal. Back then I leaned more towards chocolate desserts, but as I’ve grown up my tastes have gotten more diverse, and I’ve learned to appreciate a flaky crust filled with smooth, silken custard– and I’m betting that if my dad ever gets to taste these, he’ll like them even better than the ones in the restaurant.

I admit that making a fully-laminated dough for the crust is a bit labor-intensive– certainly more so than simply making a flaky pie crust or a melted-butter tart crust– but the crust is one of the distinctive elements that makes these tarts a classic.

I actually made two different crust recipes, just to see which one I liked better, and while I’m only 95% sure that I noted the correct recipe to use here (oops!) they were both pretty tasty, so I’m comfortable giving you this one. It was a little tough to roll out but the flaky layers were perfectly crispy.

I used foil tart pans (these were perfectly sized), but you could probably use a regular muffin pan if you were so inclined. There’s enough butter in the dough that I wouldn’t worry too much about sticking.

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts (makes 16)

Dough (from Serious Eats)

  • For The Butter Block:
  • 1 1/3 cups (6 1/4 ounces/180g) all purpose flour
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks/226g) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
  • In the bowl of a food processor, process flour and butter until a smooth paste forms and begins to gather around the blade, about 30 seconds.
  • Scoop butter mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a 6″ square. Move to refrigerator and chill for about 30 minutes, until slightly firmed.
  • For The Dough:
  • 6 tablespoons (90ml) water
  • 1 large egg yolk (15g)
  • 1 1/3 cups (6 1/4 ounces/180g), spooned, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon (3g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; if using table salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight
  • In a small bowl, whisk water and egg yolk until smooth and combined, about 30 seconds; set aside.
  • In now-empty bowl of food processor, pulse flour and salt until combined. With processor running, add egg yolk mixture and process until dough runs around processor blade, about 30 seconds.
  • Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead until smooth, about 30 seconds. Press dough into rough 6-inch square, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze until slightly firmed, about 25 minutes.
  • To assemble laminated dough:
  • On a floured work surface, roll out your dough into a 13×6″ rectangle. Place unwrapped butter block into the center, and fold the two short sides of the dough over it until they meet. Pinch edges of dough together to seal.
  • Turn your dough 90 degrees and roll it out again into a 16×6″ rectangle. Fold the two short sides into the center, then fold the whole thing together like a book.
  • Turn your dough 90 degrees again and repeat the previous step.
  • Wrap your newly-laminated dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. It can sit in the refrigerator for a day or two before using.

Filling (adapted from The Woks of Life)

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk (at room temperature)
  • 4 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dissolve sugar in hot water and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • Beat eggs with evaporated milk and vanilla extract. Stir in cooled syrup.

To Bake:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and remove your dough from the refrigerator to soften up to rolling consistency.
  • Cut your laminated dough in half and roll each half separately– you’re looking for just under 1/4″ thick. Cut out circles of dough to fit your tart pans and press gently into the bottom and sides. Make sure you have enough to overhang the edge– the pastry will shrink as it bakes. Prick the bottoms with a fork to avoid bubbling and chill for 10 minutes or so to firm up.
  • When your oven is hot, pour the custard into your dough-lined pans, about 3/4 full.
  • Bake for 24-28 minutes, until crust is golden brown and center is no longer jiggly. The custard will puff up at first, but will settle down while cooling.
  • Let cool slightly before eating. These are best eaten right away, though they’re still tasty the second day.

Note: You may have to re-roll the scraps of your dough to get 16 tarts out of it– try to do as little rolling as possible, or you’ll lose the layers. I try to patch together scraps of already-rolled dough, just to keep all of the layers oriented the same way.

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