How to Make a South African Milk Tart

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My husband arrived home with some crumpled printed pages from a website. Bold orange highlighter illuminated some of the words. He handed them to me. Just a few pastry ideas for me from his South African friend at work, Elwin.

After seeing my article on Lamingtons, Elwin wanted to pass along some ideas for South African pastry I should try out. If I was going to make Lamingtons from Australia, he thought I should also try my hand at some of his favorite desserts from home.

See also: 5 Lowbrow Desserts That Deserve More Street Cred

Of the seven desserts he highlighted, I picked the Milk Tart, because I love custards, and a custard tart seemed like the perfect treat to enjoy these last few evenings of perfect patio weather.

Essentially the milk tart is custard cooked on the stove, poured into a chilled tart shell, sprinkled with cinnamon then baked. I love recipes like this, because while perfect in their original form, they are also flexible enough to leave the door opened for a little experimentation and customization. Add some maple syrup or a splash of bourbon into the custard. Perhaps a layer of jam under the custard, and give it a different flavor.

The tart has a faint sweetness that is warmed by the dusting of cinnamon, yet it satisfies the sweet tooth. While I know the flavor will change once chilled, a stolen slice while warm is required. The warm custard melts across your tongue anchored only for a single moment by the curst, till that too bends to the effervescing powers of the custard.

A couple notes on the recipe. I used my own tart crust for this recipe, but you could easily use a pie shell. I added a tiny bit more sugar, a splash of Arizona Distilling Company Copper City Bourbon, and Hayden Flour Mill corn flour.

Milk Tart (adapted from Crush online magazine)

Roll or mold dough into a tart shell or pie crust. Chill until solid.

For the filling:

2 cups milk 2 eggs, separated ½ cup + 2 TBSP granulated sugar 2 TBSP Arizona Distilling Company bourbon ¼ cup all-purpose Hayden Flour Mill flour ¼ cup Hayden Flour Mill corn flour ¼ tsp. fine sea salt 2 TBSP unsalted butter 1 tsp. vanilla extract ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place the milk in a pot and heat over medium heat. Do not boil.

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, until pale yellow. Whisk in the bourbon.

Whisk in the ap flour, corn flour and salt.

Temper the warm milk into the egg mixture a little at a time. Return the mixture to the pot.

Whisk over medium heat until the mixture thickens and it just begins to boil.

Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. Transfer custard to a mixing bowl.

Whip the egg whites to soft peaks and fold into the custard.

Pour into the chilled pie or tart shell, and sprinkle with ground cinnamon.

Bake for about 30 minutes (mine took exactly 30 minutes, and my oven runs cool). You want the custard to be set, and the edges of the tart shell to be golden.

Allow to cool slightly. Eat warm or chilled. Either way, deliciousness guaranteed. Thanks for the idea, Elwin.

Rachel Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, and single-handedly keeps her local cheese shop in business. You can get more information about her pastry at www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or on her blog at www.croissantinthecity.com.

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