World Culture Activity: Portuguese Pastel de Nata

Learn how to make Portuguese custard tarts!

Activity best for children age 3 and up

At San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum we love learning about new cultures from around the world and today we are continuing to explore Portugal as part of our Roots series.

The capital city of Portugal is Lisbon. Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Lisbon is a city built on many hills. One way to get around town is to ride the historic yellow #28 tram. This tram will take you to many historic places around Lisbon and when you get hungry you can hop off and go to one of the neighborhood cafes that serve the Portuguese national snack, Pasteis de Nata. These sweet custard tarts have been eaten in Portugal for over two hundred years! Eaten when they are still warm from the oven, they are a delicious treat. Are you ready to try making these special pastries at home? Grab your muffin tin, some eggs, and sugar and let’s bake!

Materials You’ll Need:

1 whole egg

2 egg yolks

1 cup of sugar

2 tbsp cornstarch

1 3/4 cup of whole milk

2 ½ tsp vanilla

2 sheets of ready puff pastry that has been defrosted to room temperature

Muffin tin

Medium saucepan

Large glass mixing bowl


Rolling pin

Plastic wrap

Extra flour to roll the dough

Knife to cut the dough


Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and defrost to room temperature.

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Lightly butter your muffin tin.

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In a medium saucepan, add one whole egg and two egg yolks. Add the sugar and corn starch and mix well. Slowly add in the milk and mix well.

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On medium heat, stir the mixture until it becomes thick and starts to boil. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Carefully pour the custard into a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap to avoid a film forming on the custard. Let cool while you prepare the dough.

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Take the defrosted puff pastry dough, open it up and place 1 sheet onto top of the other. Roll up the dough starting from the short side into a tight log. Cut into 12 even-sized pieces.

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Sprinkle flour on a clean surface and roll out each circle so that it will fit into the muffin tin and be able to go up the sides of the tin. Press the dough into the tin. 

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Spoon the cooled custard into the dough muffin cups and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown on top. Take them out of the oven and let them cool down for about 5 minutes before you take them out of the tin. Let them cool down for about another 20 minutes before eating. Enjoy!

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