Portuguese Kitchen: Natas

by Andrea on January 5, 2012

I say natas; you think heaven.  These little pastry cups of custard might just be the perfect dessert.  The pastry dough is flaky and buttery, and the custard is rich and smooth.  When I head over to Portugal, I make sure that I consume dozens upon dozens of these little gems.

The good news is that you can get them around the world, just as long as you have some industrious Portuguese immigrants in the area.  Sadly, this is not the case in Seattle, but I’ve eaten plenty of natas in British Columbia, California, New Jersey, and Montreal.  As the most common Portuguese pastry, you can find these at any well respecting Portuguese bakery or cafe.

As mentioned above, you cannot find these little bites of heaven in Seattle or even in Washington for that matter. My mom tried several recipes over the years, and none even came close.  A few years back, I stumbled upon Leite’s Culinaria blog/website and in particular this recipe for Pasteis de Nata.  I’ll warn you, the recipe is very time consuming but it is SO SO SO worth it.  They truly truly taste like natas, as I know them.  Plus, you get to eat them warm as soon as they come out of your oven.  This is most certainly a weekend adventure, but I promise you, you will NOT regret it.

And a shout out to David Leite, his website, and cookbooks – David received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, and Food & Wine.  Plus his delicious recipes aren’t limited to Portuguese cuisine, and he generously shares them on his website.

Finally, here’s Mo setting his sights on a plate of mini pastries on our recent trip to Portugal. The boy knows good stuff when he sees it.

first image via Kevin & Angela

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