There is no dessert more quintessentially South African than the good old Milk Tart. It is omnipresent at every church bazaar, school fete, home industry outlet, supermarket and bakery, so it’s no surprise then to know that it has its very own day – February 27 – on the South African calendar.
Milk tart, or Melktert as it was originally known, was brought to the country by the Dutch settlers in the Cape in the 1600s and is said to have been adapted from a recipe for Mattentaart which was listed in Thomas van der Noot’s book, Een Notabel Boexcken van Cokeryen (A Notable Book of Cookery), published in 1514.
Given its long history, its little surprise that there are countless recipes and variations of the Milk Tart and there is even a whole recipe book dedicated to this delicious dessert, (The South African Milk Tart Collection by Callie Maritz & Mari-Louis Guy), that was published in 2017.
In honour of the day, we asked two chefs from Capsicum Culinary Studio to give us their favourite Milk Tart recipes. Here’s what they sent us …
Peppermint Crisp Milk Tart ~ Chef Bradley Wright, Capsicum Culinary Studio Durban campus
Ingredients for Base
150g plain flour
75g unsalted butter
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk, beaten
50g Peppermint Crisp, chilled
Place the flour, unsalted butter, icing sugar and the peppermint crisp chocolate in a food processor and blend in 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 mins before using. Pre-heat 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 into the corners. 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 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 oven and leave the base in the oven for 10-15minutes, then remove and place on wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile make the filling.
Ingredients for Filling
500ml fresh milk
100g white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
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 in starts to bubble. Cook for about 5-6 minutes. Pass through a strainer to get a smooth texture.
Ingredients for topping
50g Peppermint Crisp, chilled
1 tsp ground cinnamon (or more if preferred)
To assemble, 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 ~ Chef Imtiyaaz Hart, Capsicum Culinary Studio, Cape Town campus
Ingredients for the Milk Tart
400 ml full cream milk
1 stick cinnamon
3 tbs butter
5ml vanilla essence
50ml corn flour
2 extra-large egg yolks (reserve the whites)
1 tbs cinnamon
2 tbs brown sugar
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 corn flour 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 clingwrap 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 ¼ cup sugar – you want soft white peaks – and set aside.
Ingredients for the Choux Buns
¼ cup water
¼ cup milk
½ cup self-raising flour
4 tbs butter
Pre-heat oven to 220ºC. Heat the water, milk and butter until it boils. Add the flour and mix for about 4 mins on medium heat. Use an electric hand mixer and mix on medium speed for 1 min – adding one egg at a time and continue to mix until full combined. Add mixture to a piping bag and pipe small circles onto a pre-greased tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 10min then lower oven heat to 155ºC and bake for a further 20 mins or until golden. Remove, place on 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 with ground cinnamon and enjoy!