Hong Kong Egg Tarts

Recipe and headnotes by Genevieve Yam

Crisp, flaky, and filled with a tender custard, Hong Kong egg tarts are a beloved pastry in Cantonese cuisine; they're found in bakeries all across Hong Kong and often served at the end of dim sum. Traditionally, the tart is made with a labor-intensive Chinese puff pastry that involves laminating two separate doughs for a crust that’s both tender and ultra-flaky. This rough puff pastry recipe calls for both butter and heavy cream, resulting in a crust that’s shorter than traditional puff pastry but still just as crisp. The filling gets its golden hue from an extra yolk, while evaporated milk lends it a rich flavor. 

40 mins
20 to 25 mins
2 hrs 30 mins
15 egg tarts
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Hong Kong Egg Tarts - select to zoom
Hong Kong Egg Tarts - select to zoom
Hong Kong Egg Tarts - select to zoom
Hong Kong Egg Tarts - select to zoom


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  1. To make the rough puff pastry: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the butter, pressing the cubes between your fingers and thumbs to create flat flakes. Toss the mixture to evenly coat the butter in flour.  

  2. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the cream and water. Add about half the liquid to the dough and use a flexible spatula or bowl scraper to evenly disperse the liquid. Stir in the remaining liquid and gently knead the dough in the bowl just until it comes together. If you have a lot of dry bits at the bottom of the bowl, add more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until it comes together. 

  3. Transfer the dough to a generously floured work surface and use a bowl scraper or bench knife to gather and press it into a rough rectangle; press any loose bits into the top or sides of the dough. Dust the top of the dough and your rolling pin with flour and roll into an 8" x 13" rectangle about 1/2" thick. (The edges will be very rough; it’s OK if it isn’t a perfect rectangle at this point.) 

  4. Fold one third into the center, then the opposite third over the first, like you were folding a business letter; this is called a letter fold. Rotate the dough 90° (a quarter turn).  

  5. Roll the dough into an 8" x 13" rectangle once again. Do another letter fold followed by a quarter turn, then repeat 3 more times (for a total of 5 letter folds and 5 turns), sprinkling more flour as needed. As you work, the dough will transform from rough and shaggy to smooth and homogenous. 

  6. Cut the folded dough block in half, then wrap each piece well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours, or freeze for up to 2 months. While the dough chills, make the filling.  

  7. To make the filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and salt. In a heat-proof measuring cup, microwave the evaporated milk and water until warm, about 90°F. (Alternatively, you can heat the milk and water on the stovetop.) 

  8. Stir the warm milk and water into the sugar mixture and whisk vigorously until the granules have dissolved. Add the eggs and yolk and whisk until well combined. Strain the mixture into another medium bowl or clean container. Cover and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.  

  9. While the filling rests, remove a piece of chilled dough from the refrigerator and place it on a floured work surface. Roll out the dough into a thin, large rectangle, between 1/8" and 1/16" thick (about 12" x 12"). Use a 3 3/4" round cutter to cut circles from the dough. Set the scraps aside. Roll out the second piece of dough to create a total of 15 circles. If necessary, reroll scraps one time until you have 15 circles. (See “tips” at the bottom for details on what to do with leftover scraps.) 

  10. Place 15 small, 3" egg tart molds on a rimmed baking sheet and spray generously with nonstick spray (see “tips” below for our recommended molds). Line each of the molds with a dough circle, pressing the bottom and sides to get rid of any air bubbles beneath the surface. Repeat with the remaining molds, then use a fork to prick (“dock”) the bottom of the pastry several times. Place the baking sheet with the tart shells in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. 

  11. While the shells chill, preheat the oven to 400°F with a baking steel or stone placed on a rack in the lowest position.  

  12. Remove the chilled tart shells from the refrigerator and then use a paring knife or kitchen scissors to trim away any excess dough hanging over the edges. Place the tart shells in the freezer for 15 minutes.  (The tart shells also can be prepared through this step and then frozen overnight or up to 3 days. If using this make-ahead option, prepare the egg filling the day you want to bake; let the filling rest for 30 minutes to 2 hours before filling the frozen shells.) 

  13. When ready to bake, remove the tart shells from the freezer. If you see any coagulation or clumps in your egg filling, strain it once more. Fill each shell with 2 tablespoons of the filling.  

  14. Bake the egg tarts on the baking sheet placed on the steel for 10 minutes at 400°F, then reduce the heat to 350°F and continue to bake for 10 minutes, until the filling is just set and the pastry begins to brown around the edges. (Your filling may be slightly puffy; that’s OK. It will deflate as it cools.) 

  15. Remove the egg tarts from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes in the molds, then gently remove the tarts. (You may have to use the tip of an offset spatula or chopstick to nudge the tart out. The pastry should be golden on the bottom.) Serve warm. 

  16. Storage information: Egg tarts have the best texture and flavor on the day they’re made. To reheat the next day, place the egg tarts on a wire rack set on a baking sheet and bake at 300°F for 8 to 10 minutes, until warm.  

Tips from our Bakers

  • For the most traditional look, bake the egg tarts in stainless steel mini tart molds with fluted edges. We like these molds for the best appearance.

  • To bake in a standard muffin tin: Prepare the recipe as directed through step 10 (making the puff pastry and filling and preheating the oven). When ready to bake, spray the wells of the muffin pan with nonstick spray, then line with pastry as directed, gently pressing the dough so it reaches as far up the sides of each well as possible. Freeze the muffin tin for 15 minutes before filling with the egg mixture (there will be no excess pastry to trim). When ready to bake, place the muffin tin directly on the steel or stone and add 2 to 5 minutes to the bake time to ensure the pastry is cooked through. A darker muffin tin will help you achieve a crisper bake.  

  • To ensure maximum flakiness, you should reroll the pastry just once. But that doesn’t mean your leftover scraps have to go to waste! Brush them with egg wash (or leftover evaporated milk), sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 400°F until golden and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.