Death And The Hong Kong Egg Tart
by Cleo Coyle
If you’ve ever eaten a Hong Kong-style egg custard tart, then you know why CNN listed it as number 16 among the World’s Most Delicious Foods. The creamy, eggy custard combines with the flaky, buttery pastry to create a delightful contrast of textures.
In Hong Kong—and New York’s Chinatown—the tarts are served warm, although they’re just as delicious at room temperature or chilled. (This I know from noshing a few for breakfast, straight from the fridge.)
In my last culinary murder mystery, A Brew to a Kill, my amateur sleuth, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi, finds herself in the middle of a food truck war with a somewhat unbalanced rival (“the cupcake queen”). In the course of
sniffing out clues, Clare travels to Chinatown to interrogate a local baker, which she does while sampling the woman’s amazing egg tarts.
Although this premise is fairly hilarious, I took the culinary research seriously. You’ve heard of pub crawls? Well, my husband and I did an “egg tart crawl” to over a dozen Chinatown’s bake shops. We brought back the makings of a delicious recipe along with suggestions of a few wonderful bake shops for you to try yourself the next time you’re in New York City, including The Golden Manna at 16 Bowery. (See more of our recommended foodie destinations in the acknowledgments pages of A Brew to a Kill.)
If you can’t make it to New York’s Chinatown, no worries. Below is a recipe for baking them at home, which I also published in the recipe section of A Brew to a Kill. Whether you stop by one of Chinatown’s bakeries or bake them up yourself, my husband and I sincerely hope you eat them with joy!
Watch how they are made in a Hong Kong Egg Tart Bakery.
Cleo’s Hong Kong-Style
Egg Custard Tarts
To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.
For a peek at more delicious recipes featured in Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mystery A Brew to a Kill, click here.
Makes 12 tarts
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup whole milk
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions: Gently whisk together ingredients. Run the mixture through a sieve. Pour into 12 pre-made tart shells or see my recipe below to make your own. Bake about 25 minutes in an oven preheated to 325° F. Centers should resemble creamy custard and not be rubbery. Tarts are done when an inserted toothpick (like a good alibi) stands up on its own. These tarts are traditionally served warm but are just as delicious at room temperature or chilled. To store, wrap loosely in wax paper or plastic and place in refrigerator.
Tart Crusts Makes 12 small tart shells or 1 large tart crust
1¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter (chilled)
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2–3 tablespoons hot water, or as needed
Directions: Sift the flour, salt, and sugar into a bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add in the shortening. Using the tips of your fingers, work the fats into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the hot water and continue working and kneading until it comes together into a smooth dough. Pat the dough into a large ball, flatten the ball into a disc, and wrap the disc in plastic or wax paper. Refrigerate for thirty minutes. Dust a surface with flour and roll flat. Stamp out circles and press into tart molds or (for more rustic tarts) use muffin pan tins. Bake as directed in the above recipe, and…
Eat with joy!
Text and photos © Alice Alfonsi, who writes The Coffeehouse Mysteries as Cleo Coyle with her husband, Marc Cerasini.
CLEO COYLE is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Like their 11 COFFEEHOUSE MYSTERIES, their 5 HAUNTED BOOKSHOP MYSTERIES (written under the name Alice Kimberly) have been national bestsellers for Penguin. When not haunting coffeehouses or hunting ghosts, Alice and Marc are NY Times bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for NBC, Lucasfilm, Fox, Imagine, MGM, and Disney. Their upcoming Coffeehouse Mystery release, HOLIDAY BUZZ, is a culinary mystery set in New York City during the magical Christmas season, and its appendix is packed with delicious cookie and holiday recipes. Their current release, A BREW TO A KILL, was a Mystery Guild Featured Alternate Selection, a B&N “must-read” mystery, and a top-7 Bookscan hardcover bestseller. There are over 20 fun recipes in A BREW TO A KILL. For a peek at the book’s recipe section, click here.
To download a convenient checklist for Cleo’s Coffeehouse Mystery titles in order, click here.