Author Notes: Probably the most well known, universally adored South African dessert. From bake sales to baby showers, afternoon teas and Sunday lunches, Milktart is considered mandatory by most and has been known to make grown men weep. Recipes have been passed down for generations but the variations are only slight. A milky, vanilla custard served in a short crust or puff pastry shell and dusted lightly with a cloud of cinnamon. Simply heavenly . —foodfanatic
Serves: 6 – 8
Sheet of puff pastry, preferably all butter, or one recipe of your favorite short crust pastry for a tart shell
Egg yolk lightly beaten
For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350° F convection / 375° F convention.
On a floured surface, roll the sheet of puff pastry out just enough so it will cover the inside of the tart pan and have some overlap. Place it carefully in the 9-inch, fluted tart shell and press it into the corners and sides. Trim the excess. Place a piece of wax paper across the top of the tart so it covers the sides. Add dried beans to weight down the crust and refrigerate for 15 minutes while you start on the filling.
Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Take the crust out of the oven, remove the weights, and brush with the egg wash. Put back in the oven for another 5 minutes until golden. Set aside until ready to fill and leave the oven on.
For the filling:
In a small saucepan, bring the milk, salt, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, up to boil. Set aside to steep for 15 minutes. Bring back to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy cream with the cornstarch making sure there aren’t any lumps. Add this to the milk mixture along with the butter and stir until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat.
Make sure the egg yolks are in a larger-sized bowl because you’ll be adding the milk mixture to them. Add a little bit of the milk mixture and stirring or whisking to incorporate. Continue to do this a little at a time until the milk mixture is completely incorporated . Let this mixture cool slightly.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites with the ½ cup of confectioner’s sugar until soft peaks form – should be light and fluffy. Add a spoonful or two of the milk custard to the egg whites and incorporate. Carefully, fold the egg whites into the milk custard to lighten it up. Be careful not to overmix or you will deflate it significantly.
Add this filling to the tart shell. Dust with cinnamon
Bake for 10 minutes, and then lower the temperature 25 degrees and bake another 15 minutes. Don’t be surprised if it puffs up during cooking – it will reduce down as it cools. Cool on a rack and serve.