Makes 18 tarts:
- 2-3 sheets of frozen puff pastry
- 5 medium eggs (separate whites and yolks)
- 2 cups milk
- 2/3 cups sugar (I've used both castor sugar and raw sugar and both work fine)
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 5 tbsp cornflour
- 1 tbsp cold butter
- Icing sugar and ground cinnamon for dusting
1. Make the filling (you can do this in advance and store for a day in the fridge to bake fresh the next day). Start by lightly warming the milk with vanilla extract and lemon zest in a medium saucepan until simmering with small bubbles. Don't let the milk boil - the idea is to infuse the milk with the flavours of the lemon and vanilla. Set aside to cool to room temperature
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the five egg yolks with the sugar until frothy and amalgamated.
3. Sift the cornflour into the egg/sugar mixture, whisking to make sure there are no lumps
4. Gradually incorporate the infused milk into the egg mixture while whisking. It's important to do this gradually so that the two mixtures incorporate without splitting.
5. Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and cook on a medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until it becomes thick (it's kind of like the consistency of soft curd, still slightly liquid). This will happen in a minute or two so don't leave the stove. Remove from heat as soon as this texture is achieved to stop the cooking process
6. Transfer the mixture into a medium bowl and whisk in cold butter until the mixture becomes nice and glossy
7. Cover mixture and leave to cool (you can even do this in the fridge)
8. Once mixture has cooled to room temp, it would have solidified a bit so break it up with a spoon/whisk until it's smooth again.
9. Gradually incorporate in the egg whites little by little into the mixture while whisking/stirring. Again this is done gradually to stop the mixture splitting. It also helps if they are similar temperature. The consistency should now be more like a smooth thick liquid. The filling is now ready to bake but can be stored in the fridge for 24hrs if you wanted to bake the next day.
10. Preheat fanforced oven to 190degC
11. Lightly grease muffin tins
12. Thaw puff pastry and cut into circles. Place pastry circles in muffin tin, shape into the cups and prick with fork so they don't puff up too much.
13. Bake pastry in oven until slightly golden. You can "blind bake" these by placing baking paper on top with baking weights/rice to hold their shape, but it's not essential.
14. Remove from the oven - if the pastry has lost it's "cup" shape during the baking, don't worry, just prick it with the fork to deflate them a bit. Fill the pastry cups with the lemon and vanilla filling.
15. Bake until the the filling is cooked on top but still slightly jiggly in the middle - around 10-15min, but sometimes this differs depending on the size of the tarts
16. Remove tarts from oven and leave to cool on wire rack.
17. Sift some icing sugar and ground cinnamon over tarts before serving.