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Milk Tart (also known as Melktert) is a traditional South African dessert. The crust is a soft, cakey crust topped with a cinnamon infused milk custard. It is delicious and was one of my favorites that we tried on our trip.
Back when the hubs and I went to South Africa in May to visit his family, I naturally tried all the traditional South African foods and desserts I could. Not only do I like to try new foods, but I’d heard the hubs talk about so many favorite foods he had as a kid and I was so curious to experience them with him.
I found milk tart to be a very common dessert option. The first night we arrived, we stayed with the hubs’ aunt and uncle and they served on for dessert. I love cinnamon, so naturally I was a fan. We had it at a few other places we stayed too, so I was excited to try a version at home.
It actually took me many versions before I got it just right. Since it’s called a “tart” I was determined to make it in a tart pan. However tarts are fairly thin so several rounds were required to get the method right.
To start, there’s the crust. It’s not like a pie crust. It’s more cakey. I actually love the crust. I just don’t love making it. Fair warning – while it’s totally worth it, the crust is the hardest part.
The recipe for the crust doesn’t really make that much dough, but it expands quite a bit when it bakes. It’s also fairly sticky. Once you make the dough, you’ll probably want to flour your fingers to press it into the pan. It’ll seem like the dough won’t possibly be able to cover the whole pan, and it will be thin, but it will expand as it bakes and make a nice crust. You’ll only want it to go about halfway up the sides of the pan, because it expands up the sides.
Cover the crust with aluminum foil that’s be sprayed with non-stick spray. I’d recommend adding some parchment paper on top of the foil, then adding pie weights. The pie weights are a must to keep the crust compressed. The parchment paper is a little stronger and allows you to easily lift out the pie weights after baking.
The next step is the filling. It should come as no surprise that the primary ingredient is milk. The milk and vanilla are heated on the stove and brought to a rolling boil.
Next, you want to temper the egg so that it doesn’t cook when combined with the milk. Beat the egg in a separate bowl, then pour a little bit of the heated milk into the egg and mix. Add the remaining milk and the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. The mixture will be very thin.
To add the filling to the tart pan, I recommend placing the tart pan on the rack in the oven. I slid the center rack out, set the tart pan on it, then carefully poured in the filling. Because the filling is so thin, it can slosh around pretty easily if you pour it into the pan on the counter and then carry it to the oven. I found it easier to just fill the pan with it already on the rack.
The tart bakes for about 25-30 minutes. The center will still be a little jiggly. Allow it to cool slowly on the counter for about 30 minutes, then refrigerate until cool. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and serve.
Though more work than some, this Milk Tart is seriously so good. The hubs thought it was spot on and was happy to taste test. 🙂 Our church group got to taste test as well and were big fans! One guy in particular just about ate the entire thing himself.
If you like cinnamon and vanilla, you would like this tart. Those are the primary flavors you taste in the filling, and when sitting in a light, cake crust, it really is so good. I can’t wait to make it again for the hubs. I’m pretty sure it’ll be making appearances for the holidays. 🙂
A traditional South African dessert. The crust is a soft, cakey crust topped with a cinnamon infused milk custard.
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Recipe modified from Just Easy Recipes.