Chocolate custard tarts
For the puff pastry
- 150g/5½oz strong white flour
- 150g/5½oz plain flour
- 2 free-range medium eggs
- 100ml/3½fl oz cold water
- 250g/9oz unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
For the custard filling
For the puff pastry, put the flours, eggs and water in a large bowl and gently mix everything to a stiff dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it well for 10 minutes. The dough should feel tight but elastic so the kneading will take a bit of effort. When the dough is smooth, shape it into a ball and put it in a plastic bag in the fridge to chill, for at least 30 minutes, but you can leave it overnight at this stage.
Flatten the butter out into a rectangle about 1cm/½in thick and chill for about one hour to harden the butter again, if needs be.
Roll out the dough in a rectangular shape, also about 1cm/½in thick. Put the butter on the top so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of the dough. Make sure that it is positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges. Fold in the edges slightly so the butter does not escape during the rolling and folding process, a little fold will do.
Fold the exposed dough at the top down over one-third of the butter, then gently cut off the exposed bit of butter and put it on the top of the dough you have just folded down. Fold the bottom half of the dough up. You will now have a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough.
Turn the square of pastry round a quarter turn (90 degrees). Roll out the dough into a rectangle as before. Fold one-third of the dough down and then the bottom one-third up on top to make a neat square. This is called a single turn. Place the dough in a plastic food bag, or wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for another hour. Repeat this process twice more, making sure you chill the pastry for an hour in between each turn.
Chill in the plastic food bag or cling film overnight. Your dough is now ready to use.
Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Butter the holes in a 12-hole muffin tin.
Roll out the pastry to a rectangle and cut out 12 discs using a 9cm/3½in cutter. Press each pastry disc into the muffin tin holes, line with baking parchment, fill with a few baking beans and blind bake for 10-15 minutes.
Allow to cool completely in the tin. Leave the oven at the same temperature.
To make the custard, whisk the sugar, egg yolks, cornflour and salt together and set aside. Put the milk in a large, heavy-based pan with the vanilla pod (split in half, with the seeds scraped into the milk) and the cinnamon stick.
Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat. Pass the hot milk through a sieve to remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod, then pour the hot milk over the egg mixture and whisk together.
Return this mixture to the pan. Put back on a gentle heat and cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture becomes thick. Remove from the heat immediately and beat for a minute to get rid of any lumps. Leave to cool.
Gently melt the chocolate in a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water (without letting the bowl touch the water). Mix the melted chocolate together with double cream in a bowl to produce a smooth ganache.
Spoon the cooled custard into each of the cooled pastry cases, filling them about three-quarters full. Then, using a teaspoon, dip the handle of the spoon into the warm chocolate ganache, and carefully swirl a little chocolate into each of the custard tarts.
Place the tarts back into the preheated oven and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Cool and dust with icing sugar to serve.