An Afternoon Making Egg Tarts, a Chinatown Classic

An Afternoon Making Egg Tarts, a Chinatown Classic

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Every morning on my walk through Chinatown, trays of egg tarts beckon from the window displays of neighborhood bakeries. They’re whisked home in the iconic pink cardboard boxes that are as recognizable in Chinatown as bags from Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s are in other parts of the city.

These delicious egg tarts are rarely more than a buck apiece from the bakery, so why bother making them at home? The answer, of course, is that there’s absolutely nothing better than a fresh egg tart served warm from the oven. And, as you’ll see below, performing this heroic act at home couldn’t be easier.

The Chinese egg tart is comprised of two simple pieces — a crumbly butter pastry shell and a delicately-sweet custard filling. The kiddos will happily eat them plain, but adults will enjoy pairing an egg tart with a hot cup of milk tea or coffee.

Spending an afternoon making egg tarts in your kitchen is a leisurely affair. Start after lunch by mixing together a batch of basic butter pastry. While the dough cools in the fridge, combine sugar and water to create a simple syrup, then blend with eggs and evaporated milk. That’s really the extent of your prep work.

You’ll have a lazy hour free to read a book or finish a load of laundry while the egg tarts bake in the oven. When the timer beeps, all you have to do is turn the tarts out from their tins before you can enjoy your creation — the perfect mid-afternoon snack, after-school treat or show-stopping dessert!

Here’s how to make classic Chinatown egg tarts, step-by-step. The detailed tutorial with pictures and directions is at the bottom of the page.

Your turn! What tips can you share from your family’s recipe? Want to ask a question before you start cooking? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!


Classic Chinatown Egg Tart Recipe

Makes: 12 Egg Tarts | Prep Time: 45 Minutes | Cook Time: 45 Minutes
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Ingredients

Pastry:
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 eggs
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 tart tins (3″ x 1.5″)

Directions

1. With a hand mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy and smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Combine the flour and cornstarch, stir into the butter mixture with a wooden spoon, then knead until a dough ball forms. Add extra flour until the dough loses its stickiness. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

2. Create a simple syrup by bringing the water and sugar together to a boil, until the sugar dissolves. Set the syrup aside to cool to room temperature, then whisk in the eggs, evaporated milk and vanilla extract. Strain twice and set aside.

3. Roll the cooled dough out to 1/4″ thickness and cut it into 4 1/2″ circles. Lightly press each dough round into a tart tin and then refrigerate while you heat the oven.

4. Heat the oven to 400 degrees and place a rack in a low position. Pour the egg filling into the tart tins until they are about 80% full. Place the egg tarts into the oven, then immediately reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.

5. Bake the egg tarts until the filling puffs up into a dome shape, about 30 minutes. When this happens, reduce the heat to 325 degrees and set the timer for an additional 15 minutes to finish. Remove from the oven, pop the tarts from the tins and serve warm.


Step-By-Step Tutorial

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For a pastry so delicious, the required ingredients are remarkably simple — eggs, flour, butter, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, water, vanilla extract and evaporated milk. You can pick up 3″ x 1.5″ tart tins in Chinatown or at Bed Bath and Beyond.

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Perhaps the only “specialty” ingredient is evaporated milk. (Note: Make sure not to buy sweetened condensed milk.) You can use Black & White for a true Hong Kong flavor, but really any brand will do.

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With a hand mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy and smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

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Combine the flour and cornstarch, stir into the butter mixture with a wooden spoon, then knead until a dough ball forms. Add extra flour until the dough loses its stickiness. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

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Create a simple syrup by bringing the water and sugar together to a boil, until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.

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Once the syrup reaches room temperature, whisk in the eggs, evaporated milk and vanilla extract.

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Strain twice and set aside.

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Roll the cooled dough out to 1/4″ thickness and cut it into 4 1/2″ circles.

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Lightly press each dough round into a tart tin and then refrigerate while you heat the oven.

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Heat the oven to 400 degrees and place a rack in a low position. Pour the egg filling into the tart tins until they are about 80% full. Place the egg tarts into the oven, then immediately reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.

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Bake the egg tarts until the filling puffs up into a dome shape, about 30 minutes. When this happens, reduce the heat to 325 degrees and set the timer for an additional 15 minutes to finish.

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Remove from the oven, pop the tarts from the tins and serve warm.

2 Responses

  1. I am so glad you posted this. I LOVE egg tarts and they always look so complicated to make – especially that flaky pastry. I will definitely have to try this. It looks delicious!

    • I’m glad, Natasha! I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know how it goes for you. ~Wes

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