Kouign amann egg tarts

When I was figuring out some Easter themed desserts, one thing I couldn’t get out of my head was the idea of doing something egg-themed. It was either that or something rabbit themed, but I’ve done that for the past two years and kind of wanted to change it up. So instead, I went with egg-iest dessert I could think of, being egg tarts. Now, I love egg tarts. Growing up in a a partially Chinese American household, we would go to dim sum all the time, and egg tarts were a staple there. Flaky pastry with a perfectly set, creamy custard center, it’s a hard combination to beat. Now, there are several different styles of egg tarts too. The Cantonese style that I grew up on used puff pastry and the filling was smooth and creamy throughout, like a flan. The Philippines have a similar dessert, called buko pie, which is made with coconut milk and has young coconut shavings throughout it. The French have custard tarts, which would be made with either a sabayon or pastry cream. In America, we have chess pie, which would be a pie dough with a creamy filling baked into it. And finally, the Portuguese style, which I took more inspiration from for this recipe, takes a disks cut from a rolled up log of dough, and flattens those to make the crusts. That and the filling is caramelized on top to give it those bits of browned goodness on the custard.

I had my first Portuguese styled egg tart at 85 Degrees C Bakery back when they only had locations in Taiwan, and I just fell in love with them. The pastry was flaky and buttery, while that filling was more robust than the Cantonese style. Since I wanted to truly make this recipe my own, I actually did a French spin on these. For my crust, I used kouign-amann, which is a caramelized croissant-liked pastry that is baked into the shape of a muffin essentially. I find that a lot of Easter desserts have layers to them(I’m thinking about babka and honey cake specifically). Honestly, kouign-amann are a pain to make, just because they’re a yeast leavened and laminated dough, meaning that it’s time consuming, temperamental, and highly technical. Yeast is sensitive to high temperatures, and it takes a while for the dough to leaven through proofing. Laminating dough means that you’re spreading and coating layers of dough with layers of butter, but you need the dough to be at a certain level of coldness for you to do that without the butter just leeching out of the sides and melting everywhere. Basically, don’t let the dough be too warm when you’re making this. Making it on a colder day is the most optimal. And having patience with it(which is not my strong suit), is an absolute must. But the end result, being fluffy, caramelized, buttery layers of pastry, and knowing that you made it from scratch, highly gratifying. Pair that with a rich, creamy custard filling, and you have pure fatness deliciousness.

Makes 12 egg tarts:

For the kouign amann dough:
For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Combine ingredients. Allow the dough to sit in an oiled bowl, covered, for at least 1 hour before using.

For the butter block:
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt

Whip together and spread onto a sheet of parchment, roughly in a 12 x 7 inch rectangle. Freeze for at least 45 minutes to an hour.

For form the dough:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
all-purpose flour for rolling

Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is a little more than twice as large as your butter block. Place the butter block on one side of the dough and fold it over, closing it and pressing the seams. Fold into thirds, pulling the outer sides inwards(think like a three column brochure). Place in your freezer for 30 minutes. Re-dust with flour and roll out again to the same size as it was prior to folding, and repeat the folds again. Chill again for another 30 minutes. Repeat the folding once last time, brush with melted butter and sugar, and roll up tightly into a scroll. Place in the freezer for another 15 minutes this time. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with butter and flour. Cut the scroll of dough into 12 pieces. Flatten the pieces into disks, and brush with melted butter and sugar on both sides. Press into the muffin tins. Allow the dough to proof in these tins for another 45 minutes, at room temperature.

For the custard filling:
6 egg yolks
13.7 oz sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together with a rubber spatula. Pour into the shells and bake at 400 degrees F on the top rack of your oven for 20 minutes. Cool completely before attempting to remove.

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