Vegan Portuguese custard tarts

Vegan Portuguese custard tarts

vegan portuguese custard tarts

It’s Duncan who you’ve got to thank for this recipe. He was on me to veganise Portuguese custard tarts for a long time, while I was somewhat reluctant. I don’t know why… I guess given how much the traditional recipe relies on dairy and eggs, I just didn’t think the taste would be anything to write home about… Boy, I was so wrong! These puppies are aaaammmaaazing and I don’t make proclamations like this lightly.

Even though my initial hunch that using a mixture of cashews and silken tofu was the best way to replicate the silkiness and richness of a traditional custard filling, I still had to spend a lot of time getting the ratios exactly right and I experimented with different custard consistencies to get this final result. I was getting a bit custard obsessed and kept on tinkering and tinkering, always feeling like I should try again as I can improve on what I’ve got.

Luckily for you, you’ve got Duncan. While I would happily keep on going, he is much more capable of drawing a line under things. He is my voice of reason who often tells me: ‘Ania, you’ve done enough. Everybody loves these, please don’t waste the time you could be spending on a new recipe instead!!’ I know he is right. I can be a pain. And I’ve learned never to argue back (or to at least pick my battles) as my perfectionism can certainly get out of hand at times and isn’t doing anyone any good. I mean, let’s face it, a recipe is useless to you unless it’s published, right? Well, it is published now and I hope you’ll make these pronto (or should I say rápido) and will love them as much as we did!

vegan portugese custard tarts making custard

vegan portugese custard tarts step by step

vegan portuguese custard tarts plate

vegan portuguese custard tarts cross section

makes
12
PREP
30 min
COOKING
15 min
makes
12
PREPARATION
30 min
COOKING
15 min
INGREDIENTS
CUSTARD

  • 120-150 ml / ½ cup + 1-2 more tbsp maple syrup, adjust to taste
  • 125 g / 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in boiling water for 30 mins
  • 200 g / 7 oz silken tofu (I use Clearspring)
  • zest of 1 lemon + 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract
  • a pinch of ground saffron (or saffron threads) or a few pinches of turmeric
  • 2 tsp cornflour / cornstarch dissolved in 1 tsp water

REMAINING INGREDIENTS

  • 320 g / 11 oz vegan puff pastry*
  • oil, to grease the baking tin
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon mixed with 2 tbsp icing sugar (optional)

METHOD
CUSTARD

  1. Place 120 ml / ½ cup of maple syrup and drained cashews in a blender. Process until silky smooth (if the mixture is bitsy, keep on processing, it will get smooth eventually even if you have an average blender like mine).
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients apart from saffron (if using) and cornflour / cornstarch and process until smooth. Sweeten with extra maple syrup to taste, if needed. If you plan on sweetening your pastry (see step 2 of the ASSEMBLY section), this may not be necessary.
  3. If using saffron to colour the mixture, place it in a tiny bit (a teaspoon) of plant milk and let it sit for a few minutes, then add the golden liquid to the mixture. Go easy on the amount as it’s very potent. Turmeric can be added straight into the blender, but again, do not add too much (1/8 tsp is the maximum amount you will be able to get away with without overpowering the mixture).
  4. Transfer the mixture to a medium pot and warm it up gently on the stove, whisking with a wire whisk the entire time. Slowly trickle in the cornflour / cornstarch dissolved in water and carry on mixing to prevent lumps from forming.
  5. Allow the mixture to come to a gentle boil and simmer, stirring the entire time, just until it thickens.
  6. Once thickened, take the pot off the heat and allow it to cool down completely before filling the pastry.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Heat up the oven to 200° C / 390° F and grease a 12 hole muffin tin with a small amount of oil.
  2. Unroll the sheet of puff pastry, remove a piece of grease-proof paper and tightly roll it back up. At this point, you may want to sprinkle the unrolled sheet with a mixture of cinnamon and icing sugar to give the pastry itself some sweetness. I personally didn’t do that as I prefer the contrast of unsweetened pastry with a sweet filling.
  3. Measure the length of the log and cut it into 12 equal segments – my pastry sheet was 23 cm (9″) long so each segment was 1.9 cm (0.75″) thick.
  4. Dust the working surface with a little bit of all purpose flour. Place the first segment on the working surface, cut side down and gently flatten the coil with a rolling pin into a large, thin circle. Roll the pastry fairly thin (2-3 mm / 0.08-0.1″), it expands a lot during baking.
  5. Place the circle of pastry over the muffin hole and gently push it into the hole, making sure the pastry fits in snuggly all the way to the edges of the base. Cut the excess pastry off with a sharp knife.
  6. Fill the pastry with custard, leaving a gap of at least 1 cm / 0.4″ at the end of the pastry – the custard will rise and puff up as it bakes.
  7. Continue the same way with the remaining 11 pastry segments.
  8. Place the tray into the hot oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Allow the tarts to cool down before removing them from the tin.
  9. If you have a chef’s torch, sprinkle the tops with icing sugar or brush with maple syrup and blowtorch the tops. If you don’t have a torch, place them under a hot grill / broiler for a few minutes, but watch them like a hawk as they will burn easily.
  10. Dust them with cinnamon icing sugar before serving if you wish.

NOTES
*Puff pastry is often accidentally (as a cost saving measure) vegan so even if the pastry isn’t labelled as vegan, check the ingredients. Give the ones marketed as ‘butter puff pastry’ or ‘all butter puff pastry’ a wide berth, of course.

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NUTRITIONAL INFO
calories
271
14%
sugars
11 g
12%
fats
17 g
24%
saturates
4 g
19%
proteins
4 g
9%
carbs
28 g
11%
*per tart
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4.9
14 reviews, 64 comments
REVIEWS & QUESTIONS
Adam:
I absolutely love this recipe! Thanks so much for sharing it. I've made it so many times in the last few weeks haha. Yesterday when I made it, I decided not to soak or boil the cashews (I just threw them straight in the blender with the maple syrup), and also didn't heat up the custard on the stove. I just threw everything in the blender together, and then straight into the shells and into the oven. This saved me 1-1.5 hours (between the time it typically takes to boil the cashews, heat the custard and wait for it to cool), and it tasted just as good! Thought this might be helpful for those in a rush!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Adam, I am really happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe. Good call on saving yourself time! You don't need to boil the cashews (just soak them in boiling water for 20-30 minutes), but if you have a good blender you can get away with it totally. The heating the custard step is designed to activate cornstarch, which needs to be boiled for a few seconds to thicken liquid, but I am glad that you were able to get a good result without it too. Cheers, Ania
Dawn:
Could I make these with something other than cashew nuts? (Fingers crossed!)
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Dawn,
    Coconut cream and 1-2 tbsp melted vegan butter or fragrance free coconut oil will work too, but the tarts may have a hint of coconut flavour. Hope this helps! Ania
pia:
Hi Ania. Can these custard tarts be frozen?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Pia,
    I have not tried freezing these but I have frozen another dish with this custard so custard should be fine. A little worried about double-freezing puff pastry - unless you are making it from scratch or not using a frozen one. Hope this helps! Ania
Mariah:
These were absolutely amazing! I followed the recipe exactly and they turned out perfectly! So delicious!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you so much, Mariah! I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed them. x Ania
Caitlin:
These are SO good. The flavor and texture is divine. They’re also always easier to make than I remember. Yum!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much, Caitlin! I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed them so much and found them easy to make too. x Ania
Sophia:
These tarts are divine, thank you so much for this recipe Ania! I have always adored custard tarts... and it was depressing to think of never eating them again! These are perfect though 😍 and packed full of protein so technically a health food 😉
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much for your kind words, Sophia! I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed them so much and yes, I'm with you on the health food comment ;) . x Ania
Emma:
Tried these for one of our themed dinners and they worked fantastically! Thank you! We did make a lot though so I'd be curious to see if anyone has tried freezing them?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Great stuff, I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed them. Pretty sure they will freeze just fine. x Ania
Nellie:
Hi! Question - what kind of silken tofu (firm or extra firm ) ?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Nellie,
    I use Clearspring, which does not classify silken tofu like that so not sure, but firm should work just fine. Hope this helps! Ania
Emily:
Hi Ania,
Would you change anything to make a 9" pan custard ?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Emily,
    It's hard to be sure without any testing, but I would probably extend the baking time and if not using puff pastry perhaps decrease the baking temperature a little. I made a similar filling for this crostata recipe so perhaps you could use that as a guide. Hope this helps! Ania
Stephanie:
I’m not great in the kitchen but these turned out pretty awesome! Just recently went vegan and stumbled upon this recipe... being Portuguese, I couldn’t resist! Thanks for this, already passing along the recipe to friends :)
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much Stephanie - that's high praise indeed, especially coming from a Portuguese person! I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed them so much and thanks so much for spreading the word. Finally, massive congratulations on going vegan - personally, that was the best decision I have ever made. Ania
Marina:
Hello there, tried your recipe for the first time and they looked yummy! Only thing I would say is to blind bake pastry first as at least my vegan puff pastry (coconut) did not get golden in those 15 minutes required for baking the tarts. Also, the filling wasn't enough for 12 tarts, so next time I will double it. Had to use caster sugar on top of them in stead of icing sugar as icing sugar got absorbed by the moisture of tarts before I could use the blowtorch. Great recipe though, will definitely try again! Tasty! Thank you
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Marina,
    I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed these. With regards to blind baking the pastry, I've made these over dozen times and I did not find that necessary - in fact, traditional pastel de nata do not get blind baked either, as far as I am aware. I suspect that this is something to do with the pastry you've used as it sounds unusual - coconut puff pastry? Is it homemade? My recipe uses conventional shop bought pastry and the baking time specified reflects that. As for the amount of filling, again could it be that your tarts were bigger than mine (I used a standard 12-hole muffin tin for mine)? I am reluctant to change the recipe as I've tested these thoroughly and I also have seen many people make these and no one else raised similar issues. I am glad you enjoyed these and I will keep my ears peeled for similar feedback and will retest if necessary. Ania
Julie:
I am excited to try some of your other recipes, they look great . I meant to say too that I didn’t have saffron in my pantry so put in turmeric instead and it worked well . Thanks again ! Julie In Australia
julie:
Thanks for this recipe! It was easy, pretty much foolproof and has a stock standard , no fuss list of ingredients . The tarts are delicious and were enjoyed by everyone in our home. It was so nice too, to taste test the raw mixture and not get salmonella :) I think I'll even add some more lemon to the mix and try it on a biscuit crumb for a baked cheesecake ?
Great website, can't wait to try some more of your creations .
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thank you so much for your kind words, Julie. I am delighted to hear that you enjoyed this recipe, especially that it took me so many tries to get it just right. Yes, not having to worry about salmonella or listeria is yet another bonus of being vegan, which I also appreciate immensely. It totally works as a cheesecake too, in fact, this new recipe, which contains a cheesecake layer, was based on these tarts. Hope you'll enjoy more of my recipes! Ania
Pauline:
These were yummy but I found them to be quite lemony so mine turned out more like lemon tarts, still delicious though. Great vegan custard recipe will use it in future. Thanks
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Pauline,
    Thanks for your comment, I'm glad you enjoyed them! Not sure about your comment about them being like lemon tarts as the custard recipe only calls for 1 tablespoon of lemon juice so wondering if you misread it by any chance? You can of course skip lemon altogether but I find that it adds to the flavour. Ania
Laura:
Hello. Do you think I could use shortcrust pastry instead of puff? I have a box here waiting to be used!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Sure, they won't be quite like the original (more like an English custard tart) but they will still taste delicious. Ania
Sophie:
I am looking to make this recipe in the next couple of days and I'm so excited. Someone has recommended to me to use Arrowroot instead of cornstarch, is this something you have ever baked with? And do you know if it would be a 1:1 ratio? If you don't know then I will definitely try your recipe using cornstarch first. Thank you x
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Sophie,
    I have not tested arrowroot in this recipe so I would recommend to use cornstarch to be on the safe side. They should work the same, but as it is harder to get I tend to use cornstarch more often. Hope that helps and that you'll enjoy these! Ania
Hi. I have just made the custard! Yum. I ended up using extra tofu as I didn’t want to waste the leftover tofu. It has made a beautiful custard. I blended in my Magimix blender but wasn’t satisfied so finished it off in the NutriBullet which has made it silken smooth.
I actually wanted to make a trifle with the custard! I’ve made too much custard as I doubled the recipe. Oops. So do you think the custard would freeze okay? I’m a learner so hopefully that isn’t a stupid question!
Wonderful recipe. Very sweet and creamy. Thank you.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you, Jo. I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed my vegan take on custard. I have not tried freezing these so I am not 100% sure. I am *guessing* that they would be fine. Good luck! x Ania
Phillippa Sharpe:
Hi, my first make from your website - which I have enjoyed reading for a good few months since going plant based . thank you so much for all your hard work in coming up with wonderful recipes. These were honestly delicious and a great texture. My own creations were not the prettiest but really delicious and lasted 4 days in the fridge (yes I was being good and limiting myself ). THANK YOU!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thanks so much for your lovely comment, Phillippa! I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed these and I can only admire you for this level of restraint. I wish I could resist my sweet tooth's calling a bit more often too. Ania
Suzanne Park-Davies:
Wow, I have just made these and they are utterly delectable, my husband loved them also. Thankyou for your fabulous recipes x
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much, Suzanne! I am especially delighted to hear that as it took me a lot of time to develop this recipe.x Ania
Isa:
Thank you!
Isa:
Hi!
I would love to use this recipe but I was wondering if I could use coconut cream instead of cashews? Since they're both a big source of fat?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Isa,
    I think so but I haven't tried myself so you may need to do a test first to ensure you get the right result. While they are both a good source of plant fat, they don't contain exactly the same amount of fat so the recipe may need require some tweaking. Hope that helps! Ania
Emily M:
These look SO good, and I'm really intrigued to try such a different take on these! I have some home leave this weekend, so providing my local Co-op stock these ingredients (I'm without a car for now!), then I'll be baking these bad boys. Thanks for the recipe!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Emily! I hope you'll be able to give them a go. x Ania
Laura:
Thank you so much. I’m really looking forward to sampling these, yum!
    Ania
    Ania:
    My pleasure, I hope you'll enjoy these. x Ania
Laura:
Wow! These look unreal , yum!
Do you know how long they last fresh for once baked and cooled. Thanks
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Laura,
    I'm not sure. The filling will last a while (3-4 days definitely), but the puff pastry loses its crunch and it's best eaten on the same day. Hope that helps! x Ania
Chef Rø:
Hey! I'm Portuguese and have baked pastéis de nata (the original non-vegan ones) plenty of times. Tomorrow I'm gonna try this recipe for my Finnish vegan friends. Do you think it is possible to substitute the cashews with chickpea flour?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi,
    I would not recommend that as chickpea flour will give you a very different texture. Cashews are fatty so they provided much needed creaminess and silkiness while chickpea flour won't quite do that, in my opinion. Hope that helps! Ania
Malene:
Thanks for answering! :)
I was wondering if the silken tofu and cashews also can be replaced?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Malene,
    I think you are better off finding a different recipe, to be honest. I have not tried making it with any other ingredients than what the recipe calls for. Ania
Malene:
Also, you generally cant buy maple syrup in my country, so I was considering to replace it with sugar syrup (light or dark?), but I have never tasted maple syrup and dont know how this will affect the taste? Or texture?
Nuts are also insanely expensive here, so if anyone have tried replacing the cashews with something else, I happily hear about how that went! :)
Thanks! :)
    Ania
    Ania:
    I don't know what do you mean by sugar syrup exactly, but I am sure it will be fine as long as you like the taste. Maple syrup taste is not important here - you simply want to use a neutral tasting liquid sweetener. Ania
Malene:
Hello! :)
I believe I read in a comment that if you are afraid it will taste too much of coconut, then you could just use the creme brulee recipe you have created, but I cant seem to find the recipe for it? :)
Also I have never tasted a portugese creme pie, and I was wondering how the texture is? From the photo of it being cut, it looks very firm almost jelly-like? Do you have any tips on how to make it more creamy, and less firm?
And I read a comment saying she had cut down on the maple syrup and it still tasted great, so I was thinking about doing the same since it might otherwise be too sweet for what I have in mind, but do you have any guess to how this might affect the texture?
Thank you! :)
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi,
    I do not have a creme brulee recipe so I think you might be confusing my recipe with someone else's. The texture is soft and creamy. If you want it even less firm, reduce the amount of cornflour used or skip altogether. You can adjust the sweetness to your liking when you prepare the mixture, it's no problem at all. Hope that helps! Ania
Hannah:
Im afraid i Dont really Understand how i am supposed to turn the dough into circles.. but these look soooo yummy!! If i Dont have a broiler would it be alright if i Just baked them?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Hannah,
    There are step by step photos within the post showing you how to turn the dough into circles - coupled up with the instructions, they should make it easier to understand. For ideal results, both baking (to set the custard and bake the pastry) and grilling/flaming/broiling (to char the tops) is needed. If you don't have a broiler simply just bake, but do not extend the baking time too much as it will make the filling dry. Hope that makes sense! Ania
Vanessa:
I love this recipe thank you - have been making the for my vegan food stall and they are always very popular - I only use half the amount of maple syrup in the recipe and its perfect for me level of sweetness and my customers seem to like it - they are excited at the prospect of a veganised Portuguese tart.
I must buy saffron to see if I can get the colour more like yours in the photo - for now I use tumeric but I find the colour is not quite what I am looking for.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, that's so cool! I live my dream of having my own vegan food stall vicariously through you!! :P So pleased to hear that these have been going down well with your clients. Wow, so you only use 1/4 cup of maple syrup? And that's sweet enough? My sugar addiction must be more serious than I have thought... ;)
Sarah:
THANK YOU! I muddled with a couple different recipes last Christmas I really wanted to make them for Christmas (my in laws are Portuguese) and each one was a FAIL. I cannot wait to try this one!
    Ania
    Ania:
    I really hope you'll be pleased with the outcome this time, Sarah! Ania
Joana:
Ania, thank you so much for doing this recipe and posting it!!!!
I am Portuguese and I have been vegan for 4 years now. This is something that I miss so much eating. I thought many times to try to veganise it but like you I was scared of the custard. By far your recipe is the one that looks more like a Pastel de Nata on the internet.
I will be definitely be trying this recipe. I will post it on Instagram when I do and I will mention you too. 😊
Thank you so much again!!! 😄
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much, Joana! I'm excited to hear what you think. It's funny that you think that they look the part as I've a few 'not so kind' comments from a few Portuguese people online. I hope you'll enjoy the taste and texture too! x Ania
Irene Bowman:
Pepperidge Farms has a Vegan Puff Pastry, but I still read the ingredients before I purchase. I can hardly wait to share this with my Vegan friends, Thanx
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Irene! I hope you'll enjoy the end result! Ania
Hanna:
When will these expire? and whats the best way to store?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Hanna,
    These are really the nicest on the day they've been made. If you have to store them, I would put them into an air-tight container and store them in the fridge. Hope that helps! Ania
Colleen:
I applaud you for your hard work and committment. I am not a vegan (yet), but I am converting/switching my stock recipes one at a time. There 2 distinct features to your recipes. First, you nearly perfectly retain the non- vegan textures. Second, you also perfect the familiar colours. These 2 things alone make vegan baking a real possibility instead of a slowly developing lofty goal. Thank you. Finally, I am confident in my ability to assess flavour based on the recipe alone. These look wonderful. I will be sure to post images as soon as I give this a try. Moussaka looks great too. Thank you.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thanks so much for your kind words, Colleen. I do my best to make the food as tasty and visually appealing as I can and if it resembles the original that's an added bonus, for sure. Hope you'll enjoy the results if you decide to try any of my recipes out! Ania
Maria:
I've never actually heard of these before, but they look like a must try - I'll definitely be making them to impress non-vegan friends and family. Thanks for sharing Ania!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Pleasure, Maria! Hope they will go down well with everyone! Ania
Violet:
Wow these looks amazing. Sadly, I could not find vegan puff pastry but I found fillo dough at my local store. Is that the same or it would not work in this recipe?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Violet,
    Phyllo pastry is very different from puff as it's thin and crispy, whereas puff is soft and pillowy so not sure if it will work well in the forms of little muffins. What you could do, however, is make a Greek custard pastry called bougatsa instead :). It is layers of lightly greased phyllo pastry wrapped around a custard filling and topped with icing sugar and cinnamon. I reckon that will be beautiful! Hope that helps! Ania
Jodye:
Hi! What could I sub for the cashews? We have tree nut and peanut allergies. Thank you!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Jodye,
    I have not tried making these with anything else other than cashews and tofu so I cannot be sure, I'm afraid. I reckon that coconut cream (thick part of the full fat coconut milk) and tofu may render a similar result, but you would need to try and see. Ania
Zosia:
Niesamowite! Ostatnio cały czas wrzucasz przepisy na dania, na które nieustannie mam mega ochotę😅
    Ania
    Ania:
    Musimy być 'food soul sisters' :) Smacznego i pozdrawiam! Ania
Dee:
Wow. Thanks for being so clever and diligent— I thought that these were off my list of foods forever. I don’t bake much these days but your recipe has been bookmarked as a special treat. Thank you!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Yes, me too! I was skeptical when Duncan asked me to try and make them vegan. Thanks for kind words! I hope you'll enjoy these once you decide it's time for a treat :) Ania
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