let’s start this month with a bang, shall we? since it’s a month with personally irrelevant holidays. st patrick’s day doesn’t really count for me because the “celebration” consists of admittedly satisfying corned beef and steamed potatoes/cabbage/carrots, and easter has died down now that the majority of my extended family has grown up (and we therefore no longer get easter egg hunts and peep bunny/twinkie decorations, sadly).
in case you’re not familiar with dan tats: dan tat (noun), an asian dessert/snack consisting of a pastry shell filled with custard tasting predominantly of egg. typically served at yum cha/dim sum. one of this blog’s author’s favorite desserts (when done right).
simple. now, if you’re confused about why i specifically say hong kong style dan tats: the pastry is akin to a crumbly shortbread cookie, and the custard is fairly dense and yellow throughout. portuguese style has a crust more like puff pastry, and its custard is looser and caramelized on top. if it’s too confusing, ignore this. i won’t be offended.
these took very long time to strain custard because we used a discriminating strainer; finally switched to another one and it was fine. but yes, it’s mandatory. you do want the custards to be “smooth” and “glassy,” right? and be very wary of how much you fill the shells; if it goes over, it isn’t fun at all to try to remove them from the pan.
crumbly shortbread like crust, creamy and eggy custard (shocking because there’s not that much egg in the custard if you think about it). not too sweet. dare i say that they were leaps tastier than some of the bakery ones i’ve tasted? i’m looking at you, new hwong kok, even if your ham suey gok more than makes up for your dan tat downfalls.
hong kong style dan tats (or these, anyways) are so easy. it does take some time for the dough to rest, but that’s not active prep time and it requires nothing from you. if you serve it to an asian (okay, can’t vouch for all asians, but definitely my whole extended chinese family which includes discriminating stubborn elderly great aunties and uncles), they’ll be so impressed that you made them dan tats because it just isn’t done.
Hong Kong Style Dan Tats (Egg Tarts)
from The Woks of Life
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup + 1 T granulated sugar
14 T unsalted butter, room temperature but not softened
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup evaporated milk, room temperature
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and 1 T sugar. Add the butter and break it up with your fingers, making sure to keep little chunks of butter in the dough. Add 2 T cold water and bring the dough together (our dough was already clumped together without water). Add a tiny bit more water only if necessary. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board, knead gently, and form into a rectangle. Roll the dough away from you (not back and forth). Work it as little as possible.
- Fold the dough into thirds like a letter. Give the dough a quarter turn (left or right) and roll out again. Fold the same way as before, and chill for 30 minutes.
- Make the filling. Dissolve 1/2 cup sugar 1 cup hot water; cool to room temperature. Mix the eggs and evaporated milk; whisk in the sugar water and vanilla. Strain through a fine mesh strainer; yes, you do have to do this.
- Roll out the dough and cut circles to fit a 12-cup standard muffin pan lined with cupcake liners. I like the custard/crust ratio of this size, but a smaller muffin pan also works. Press the dough into the liners and fill each shell with custard until it barely reaches the edge of the crust. Immediately bake at 400F for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350F and bake for 12 minutes, until filling is just set. Eat at any temperature (though maybe not hot; it’s better when it sets up a little).