For all its woes and failures, colonialism did leave one or two things of value. In Mozambique, one is the decadent pastel de nata – a custard tart to die for.
From the 19th-century nuns of Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Torre de Bélem to modern-day streetside cafés in Maputo, these small pastries have captured the hearts, taste buds, and gastronomies of tourists and locals alike.
While it may be folly to attempt these sweet treats on one’s own – as they will likely fail to match to the standards of perfection crafted in a true pasteleria or the secrets of the original Belem batch – here is a recipe for disaster/success:
For the dough:
- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 cup plus two tablespoons water
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, stirred until smooth
For the custard:
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups milk, divided
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 6 large egg yolks, whisked
- Powdered sugar
Continue reading for baking instructions. Of course, after tasting a true pastel de nata, your inner baker’s ego will likely take a hit. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.