Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hong Kong Egg Tart

After trying out many Western cake recipes to bake, I though one day to try a more "Asian" dessert. Both hubby and I like the Hong Kong egg tart, and I've had somewhat so-so luck with the egg tarts I found in the restaurants / stores here. Though must admit, it may be due to my preference for the cookie-crusted egg tart instead of the pie-crusted variety (though I do like it with the Portuguese egg tart, oh the mystery of the fickle human preferences ^_^). 

Can't remember how I stumbled upon KitchenTigress' website. Maybe it was the youtube instructions and very detailed step-by-step photo guide. Or maybe it was the no-nonsense language or even the rightful criticism of the Rasa Malaysia recipes (which I agreed with) that drew me. Needless to say, it was one of my lucky days, because the tarts turned out great as I followed the recipe to the tee (with only very minor difficulties). I'm looking forward to trying her Portuguese egg tart recipe sometime in the future, whenever I muster the energy to make a pastry dough - or the local Trader Joe's start to supply their pastry dough sheets again. While the recipe worked very well, I did encounter some problems which hopefully I could improve in future trials:
  • My tart shell dough yielded fewer tart crusts than the original recipe (14 instead of 20). This maybe because I did not make them thin enough.
  • I had a lot of leftover custard filling (about the same amount that was used).  This maybe related to the first problem?
  • Final baking time took nearly twice as long as the original recipe as some of the filling evaporated. It may be due to differences in the oven/heat. I may try a slightly higher baking temperature in my future trials.
So here goes below, a summary of KitchenTigress' recipe; I encourage you to go her site and youtube (links below), they are very helpful.

Hong Kong Egg Tart Recipe

Adapted generously from KitchenTigress' blog.  Youtube link here.
Makes 20 tarts (mine yielded about 14 tarts equivalent on a muffin pan, see note below)

Custard Filling
240 g eggs (4 large eggs)
160 g sugar (200 ml)
480 ml milk (2 cup)
1¼ tsp vanilla extract
Tart Shells
125 g salted butter, softened (approx 1/2 cup + 1 TBSP)
60 g icing sugar, sifted (1/2 cup)
30 g egg (approx 1/2 large egg)
1 tsp vanilla extract
210 g plain flour (1.5 cup + 3 TBSP; spoon and sweep)
1/4 tsp salt

  1. To make tart filling, whisk sugar with eggs till melted. Add milk and vanilla extract. Whisk till evenly mixed. Sieve to remove big bubbles, into something that can pour without dripping. Set aside till small bubbles subside, about 1¼ hours.
  2. To make tart dough, mix butter and icing sugar with spatula till smooth. Add salt, egg and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Add flour and mix until a rough dough comes together/forms. Wrap dough and chill in freezer until just firm, at least about 10 mins or so. You can separate dough into four pieces to help cool faster. When lining tart moulds, remove dough from freezer ¼ portion at a time.
  3. To line tart moulds, smooth 2 plastic sheets or parchment paper sheets so that there are no folds. Roll 30 g dough into a ball. Place ball between plastic/paper sheets. Press evenly with flat-bottomed plate to form a circle 2 mm thick and 10 cm (4 inches) wide, checking thickness and evenness by touching dough with palm. Remove top plastic/paper sheet. 
    • If you have a tart mould: Place 8 x 2.5 cm tart mould on dough, rim side down. Flip mould, along with dough and remaining plastic sheet, to face upward. Press dough into mould, from centre to rim. Remove plastic sheet. Trim excess dough around edges. Run fingers round tart mould, gently pressing to even out thickness and remove air pockets if necessary. Trim again if there's excess dough. Place shells on baking tray.
    • If you are using a muffin pan, like I did: Line muffin pan with cupcake/muffin liners. Remove dough from plastic/paper sheet and gently place on cupcake liner. Gently push down dough to roughly fit the cupcake liner (dough is somewhat fragile due to thinness) and press dough firmly around sides of cupcake liner. Edges will come up to about half the height of the cupcake liner. Edges won't be perfectly round, but it's not bad, as you can see in the photo above, if you're not so particular about it.
  4. To bake tart shells, preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Bake 15 minutes in middle of oven. Increase temperature to 180°C (355°F). Continue baking another 5 minutes or so, till slightly brown. Remove from oven. Leave on wire rack to cool down completely.
  5. **To bake tarts, preheat oven to 165°C (330°F). If you want to line your baking tray with foil, it should be shiny side down. Pour custard into shells, to 2 mm from rim. Bake 15 minutes in bottom of oven. Reduce temperature to 150°C (300°F). Move tray to middle of oven. Top up filling to make up for evaporation. Bake another 15 minutes or so, until custard is just slightly wobbly in the middle when shaken. If custard puffs up during last few minutes but is still too watery in the middle, remove tarts from oven to cool down till custard subsides, then continue baking. Watch custard closely towards the end to make sure it doesn't overcook.
Serve hot, or at least warm. Leftovers should be refrigerated. Tarts may be reheated at 120°C using bottom heat only for 10 minutes or so. Pastry isn't soggy at all if reheated without moulds.

**My notes: In the last step (step 5), it took me a total of 55-60 minutes until the custards are firm, instead of the total 30 minutes baking time specified in the original recipe. I may try increasing the final baking temperature to 165°C (330°F), in future trials.

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