Portuguese Egg Tart From Desir Bakery

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Dave Lieberman
We don't really do "Dessert of the Week" anymore--that feature was retired a while back in the Great Stick A Fork In It Reshuffle--but occasionally a sweet comes along that deserves the title.

Anyone who's ever been to a dim sum hall knows what 蛋撻 are. Daan taat, as they're called in Cantonese, are flaky tart shells filled with an eggy, rich, glossy, yellow filling. They're by far the most popular desserts at dim sum, eclipsing even the wonders of ginger tofu.

Hong Kong is lined with places to buy these morsels, but just a short ferry ride away across the South China Sea is Macau, a similar colony set up by the Portuguese. Macanese cuisine is similar to Hong Kongese, but the egg tarts are different; they've been dragged through Lusitania and marked forever by the Lisbonese speciality, pastéis de nata. The tarts are almost twice the size, and the filling, rather than being the rich egg filling common to dim sum houses, is a lovely flan-type custard, rich with cream and with little scorches on top, like crème brûlée without the sugar. They're different enough that they go by a different name: 葡撻, or pou taat.

They are amazing; they are to regular daan taat what a Counter burger is to an In-N-Out burger; they are also hard to find in Orange County. As I was walking through 99 Ranch in Anaheim one day, I saw them at the Desir Bakery counter and I had to have them; they filled a hole in my soul I didn't know I had.

The price for each custardy, flaky morsel? A buck each--and if you buy four, you get the fifth free.

Desir Bakery, inside 99 Ranch Market, 651 N. Euclid St., Anaheim; (714) 776-8899.


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