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3 must-try recipes for National Milk Tart Day

Peppermint crisp milk tart. Picture: Supplied

Peppermint crisp milk tart. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 25, 2022

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February 27 is a special day in our culinary calendar: it’s National Milk Tart Day

The milk tart or melktert, as it is called in Afrikaans, is a dessert loved by many South Africans, so much so that it needed its special day.

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Traditionally described as a shortbread crust with a milky filling, this classic dish is said to have come from the Dutch in the 1600s.

From the light crumbly pastry base to the sweet smooth milk filling, it is the perfect treat. Here are 3 milk tarts to try on Milk Tart Day.

Peppermint crisp milk tart by chef Bradley Wright

Ingredients for base

150g plain flour

75g unsalted butter

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50g icing sugar

1 egg yolk, beaten

50g peppermint crisp, chilled

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Method

Place the flour, unsalted butter, icing sugar, and peppermint crisp chocolate in a food processor and blend in a short burst until it resembles breadcrumbs. Tip into a bowl, add the beaten egg yolk, and mix to form a dough. If the dough looks too dry, add 1 tbsp water. Shape the dough into a ball, flatten it out into a disc, wrap it in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes before using. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out evenly on a floured surface. Grease a flan pan with butter (or use Spray and Cook) and dust lightly with flour. Gently place the rolled-out dough into the pan and neatly shape it into the corners.

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Use a fork to poke holes in the base of the base. Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Once rested, remove from the fridge and place the greaseproof paper in the tart shell and cover with baking beans (or you can use uncooked rice). Bake for 10 minutes, remove greaseproof paper and baking beans, and bake for a further 5 minutes or until golden brown. Turn off the oven and leave the base in the oven for 10-15 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, make the filling.

For the filling

500ml fresh milk

28g butter

20g flour

25g corn-starch

100g white sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

For the topping

50g peppermint crisp, chilled

1 tsp ground cinnamon (or more if preferred)

Method

Place a saucepan over medium heat and add the milk and butter and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. In another bowl, mix the flour, corn-starch, sugar, and vanilla essence and whisk in eggs until smooth. Gently whisk the mixture into the saucepan making sure there are no lumps. Return the saucepan to the stove and keep stirring constantly until it starts to bubble. Cook for about 5-6 minutes. Pass through a strainer to get a smooth texture.

To assemble the topping, pour the still-warm custard into the baked pastry shell ensuring that it spreads evenly. Allow to set and cool completely. In a bowl finely grate the peppermint Crisp and mix with the ground cinnamon and then sprinkle over the top of the tart. Use a stencil to make it look even more fabulous!

Milk tart stuffed choux buns by chef Imtiyaaz Hart

Ingredients for the milk tart

400ml full cream milk

1 stick cinnamon

3 tbsp butter

5ml vanilla essence

50ml cornflour

2 extra-large egg yolks (reserve the whites)

80ml sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp brown sugar

For the choux buns

¼ cup water

¼ cup milk

½ cup self-raising flour

4 tbsp butter

2 eggs

Method

In a saucepan place, 300ml of the milk along with the cinnamon stick and the butter and heat until bubbles start forming. Remove from heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes before removing the cinnamon stick - this allows the mixture to retain that cinnamon flavour.

Add the vanilla essence. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining milk. Add the cornflour and beat, making sure there are no lumps.

Add a little of the warm milk to the cornflour mixture then add to the heated milk in the saucepan.

Cook on medium heat until thick, whisking continuously whisk so that no lumps form. Remove from the heat and add the sugar.

Place cling wrap over the surface of the milk tart mixture (making sure it is in contact with the surface so that a skin does not form) and leave to cool. Beat the egg whites with 1⁄4 cup sugar - you want soft white peaks – and set aside.

For the choux buns

Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Heat the water, milk, and butter until it boils. Add the flour and mix for about 4 minutes on medium heat. Use an electric hand mixer and mix on medium speed for 1 minute - adding one egg at a time and continue to mix until fully combined.

Add mixture to a piping bag and pipe small circles onto a pre-greased tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes then lower oven heat to 155ºC and bake for a further 20 minutess or until golden. Remove, place on a wire rack and allow to cool.

To assemble: Spoon the milk tart mixture into a piping bag and fill the choux buns. Top with the meringue and give it a quick toast with a blowtorch. Sprinkle it with ground cinnamon and enjoy.

Ilse van der Merwe’s milk tart

Ingredients

For the crust

1 ½ cups cake flour

⅓ cup powdered icing sugar

¼ tsp salt

125g cold butter, cubed

1 x large egg yolk

15 ml iced water

For the filling

2 cups full cream milk

2 tbsp butter

2 strips lemon rind, thinly peeled (optional)

1 stick cinnamon (optional)

½ cup cream (or substitute with more milk)

½ cup sugar

2 x large eggs

3 tbsp cornflour (Maizena)

2 tbsp cake flour

5ml vanilla extract

2 ½ ml almond essence

1-2 tsp ground cinnamon, for dusting

Method

Spray a 22cm tart tin or dish with non-stick spray and set aside. Place the flour, icing sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and process until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the yolk and cold water and continue to process at low speed until it just starts to come together in clumps. Turn out into the tin and press evenly into a thin layer all over (you might not need all of the pastry). Prick all over with a fork and place in the freezer. Now, preheat your oven to 190°C with the rack in the centre while the dough firms up. After 20 minutes, transfer the cold tin to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven to cool while you make the filling.

For the filling

Place the milk, butter, lemon rind, and cinnamon stick in a pot on the stove-top over medium heat. While it is heating up, place the cream, sugar, eggs, cornflour, cake flour, vanilla, and almond essence in a mixing bowl and mix well with an electric beater. When the milk mixture just starts to boil, remove the pot from the heat and remove the rind and cinnamon stick. Now pour the cream and egg mixture into the warm infused milk, stirring continuously. Place the pot back on medium heat and stir continuously until the mixture starts to thicken (2-3 minutes). Turn down the heat to very low and continue to stir until the mixture is very smooth, thick, and glossy (1-2 minutes) - taking care not to let the bottom burn. Remove from the heat and pour into the baked pastry case. Smooth the top and leave to cool at room temperature. To use the stencil: place it gently on top of the cooled tart, then sift cinnamon all over to reveal the pattern. Lift the stencil and serve at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to three days.

Tip: If your custard mixture seems to have thickened with some clots, use an electric beater to make it silky smooth before you pour it into the prepared base. It’s quite forgiving.

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