Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts
Can you hear the rattling of the China plates? Can you see the hot steam escaping from the bamboo baskets? Can you close your eyes and remember the fantastic smell of Chinese dishes and dim sum that transcends through every corner of the tea house? Can you envision the Cantonese waiters yelling out orders as they are running frantically around in the crowded small tea house making sure that everyone gets their special dim sum delights? Oh wait...Here comes the waitress pushing the glass cart with the dessert dim sum. Decisions, decisions, decisions... Should I have a creamy mango pudding, Dou fu fa (豆腐花) or a freshly baked Cantonese Egg Tart. Can you smell the buttery crust of the egg tart and the lightly sweet cream? Oh my, the waitress has just notified me that they have just came out of the oven and are still warm. Decision is made!
Egg Custard tarts were introduced in Hong Kong in the 1940s by cha chaan tengs (a tea diner). Egg tarts were then introduced in western cafes, bakeries, dim sum restaurants and many people loved to eat them with Yum Cha. Yum Cha is morning style or afternoon tea. As you know, Britain ruled Hong Kong for many years. One could only guess that the UK had a big impact on Hong Kong as they are experts at pudding, egg custards and such and maybe this is one of the reason why this trend started.
I love sampling these little sweet treats from many different tea shops and pastry shops in Hong Kong. Each one has a very different and unique flavor depending on the ingredients and love put into each batch. In Hong Kong there are many different variation of this little egg tart including honey-egg, ginger-flavoured, chocolate tarts, green-tea-flavoured tarts, egg tarts with coconut toasted on top and even bird's nest tarts. Usually I have noted with all of my QA and taste testing that there are 2 main kinds of crusts either like a short crust pastry or a puff pastry. I think that Hong Kong tarts have a rich custard filling that has many more eggs and is less creamy than Portuguese pastéis de nata.
Portuguese egg tarts have evolved from "pastéis de nata" a traditional Portuguese custard pastry that consists of custard in a creme brulee like consistency caramelized in a puff pastry case. It was created more than 200 years ago by Catholic Sisters at Jeronimos Monastery.
I think of one best egg tarts I have eaten was at a little bakery in Macau. Each bite almost melted in my mouth. However, they can be quite greasy. However Hong Kong Cantonese Egg tarts are also lovely as they are not super sweet but very creamy and delicate and not so greasy. So I tried looking around the internet to see if I could find some different recipes and came up with a combination I liked with half of my batch made with a traditional Cantonese bakery crust and half of the batch made with a puff pastry. A little something for everyone.
Now that I have set the scene for a leisurely Sunday Dim Sum meal, why wait in those long lines in que waiting for a table at your favorite tea house when you can make those lovely Hong Kong style egg tarts right from the comfort of your home
Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts (recipe adapted from Food.com by Celticevergreen and Dr. Gaellon)
Makes 12 Tarts
Flaky Crust (homemade or store-bought phyllo)
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 3 cups flour
- 1 cup lard or butter
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 dash vanilla extract
- OR JUST USE 1 pre-packaged frozen puff pastry
Yummy Egg Tart Filling
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 9 eggs, beaten (this is NOT a typo- add 9 eggs)
- 1 dash vanilla extract
- 1 cup canned evaporated milk
Step 3: Combine the white sugar and water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Strain the beaten eggs through a sieve, and whisk into the sugar mixture. Stir in the evaporated milk and vanilla. Strain the filling through a sieve, and fill the tart shells. (Straining is a really important step so don't skip this step or your egg tarts will not be as consistently smooth and creamy as you wished.)