Mini Baked Custard Tarts

These canapés turned out quite cute, and the audience I inflicted them on thought they were delicious: they have a crunchy, nutty exterior with a velvety baked custard interior.

The nut crust is gluten-free and dairy-free; the custard uses cornflour so is also GF.

Makes: 30 bite-sized custard tartlettes

 

Ingredients
For the crust:

  • 100g gluten-free flour, plus additional for crustlette insertion
  • 40g porridge oats
  • 65g ground almonds
  • 65g very finely chopped pecans
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons maple, agave, or golden syrup; runny honey will do as well
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the custard:

  • 4 large eggs, yolks only (they should total 250-270g when weighed in the shell)
  • 400ml double cream (400g if weighing)
  • 60g white caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (with seeds, if possible)
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg (or freshly grated), plus additional for garnish
  • Demerara sugar, for decorating

Kit

  • A 24-hole non-stick canapé tin with 1″ diameter holes (see Kit footnote for other tins)
  • 2 large mixing bowls, plus small bowl for flour for dipping fingers
  • A heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • Manual whisk
  • Wooden spoon
  • A fork, large dessert spoon, and a teaspoon
  • Cooling rack

Steps
Making the Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 190 C (170 C fan-assisted).
  2. Mix all crust ingredients together in a large bowl with a fork until fully moistened and combined. Using your hands, roll up 30 evenly-sized, small balls around 12g each. Put 6 into the fridge for later.
  3. Take 24 balls and press each into the tin holes using lightly-floured fingertips (or a lightly-floured dowel, but this does require using your fingers as well), ensuring the crust goes all the way up the sides of each and is quite thin all over. Leave a bit of a ‘lip’ at the top of each. Bake for around 8 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the tin to a cooling rack.
  4. Turn the oven down to 150 C (130 C fan-assisted).

Making the Custard

  1. While the crustlettes are baking, manually whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl.
  2. Put the cream, sugar, cornflour, vanilla, and nutmeg into a pan on the hob on a low heat. Whisk together well; when fully combined, turn the heat up to high, switch to a wooden spoon, and keep stirring. Make sure you continually drag the spoon over the bottom of the pan while you stir, until the mixture comes to the boil.
  3. As soon as it comes to the boil, take the pan off the heat. Add the hot cream mixture to the whisked egg yolks one large dessert spoonful at a time, whisking briskly to avoid scrambling, for 3-4 spoonfuls. Then pour the rest of the hot cream in and continue whisking madly until it’s very smooth.
  4. Using a teaspoon, spoon the custard into the baked crustlettes, about 2 tsp each. Sprinkle a bit of demerara sugar over each. Bake for around 10 minutes, until you still have a firm wobble. Remove the tin from the oven, and let the tartlettes cool for 5 minutes or so until you can handle them, before removing them from the tin to a cooling rack.
  5. Wipe out the tin, ensure it’s fully cool, then load up with the remaining 6 crust balls, and bake them. Then fill with the remaining custard, and bake again. (You’ll have about 1/2 cup of custard left over – enjoy it another way!)
  6. Garnish each tartlette with a pinch of ground (or quickly grated) nutmeg before serving.

Different Kit
This recipe as written does require specialised kit, but it could easily be adapted for a standard non-stick 12-hole muffin or bun tin – simply increase the baking times of both the crust and the custard to suit the larger tart size. (Also, prick each crustlette lightly with a fork before baking so it doesn’t puff up.) You should get 12-15 larger tarts from this recipe.

Alternate Garnishes
I had some fresh summer berries so used them (as you can see in the photo) as a garnish, but you can use anything that takes your fancy; maybe sifted icing sugar, or a teeny dollop of whipped cream – or just leave plain.

Unused Egg Whites
As with all custards, you’re going to end up with egg whites. These can be stored in sealed containers either in the fridge (about a week) or in the freezer (a month or so). Making meringues is easy and they’re very ‘wow’ for desserts or for charity bakes. Or, make these Amaretti biscuits.

Ensure you label your container with date stored and number of whites, and leave to defrost and come up to room temperature before using.

Attributions
The nut crust is from my other recipe, Sharon Fruit Pie. The custard is adapted from Henry Dimbleby.

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