Seline and Leandri’s easy Mexican milk tart

“The combination of creamy custard filling topped with fragrant spices on a crumbly tart pastry has made milk tart a proudly South African heritage food. Every holiday when our cousin Liezl would trek home from boarding school, we’d hand her an invite to our dress-up tea party and serve tea and warm milk tart out in our sunny garden,” say MasterChef SA contestants, Seline and Leandri van der Watt. This inspired, slightly more grown-up version, comes from the sisters’ new book, ‘Two’.


250 ml plain flour
160 ml butter
A pinch of salt
A pinch of castor sugar
60-75 ml cold water
1 litre milk
2.5 ml crushed chilli flakes
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod
3 large eggs
180 ml white sugar
30 ml cornflour
15 ml plain flour
30 g salted butter
100 g dark chocolate
10 ml ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 160 °C.

To make the short-crust pastry, work the flour, butter, salt and castor sugar into a fine breadcrumb using your hands. Don’t overwork or the butter will start to melt.

Add 45 ml of the cold water and quickly start bringing the pastry dough together. Add another 15 ml cold water, and more if necessary. You know the dough has been brought together when you can squeeze a small portion of it between your fingers and it holds its shape without crumbling.

Lightly work the pastry with your hands to ensure the fat and flour has blended, then sprinkle with a little extra flour and wrap in cling wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Press the short-crust pastry dough into a 23 cm pie dish and cover with a layer of baking paper followed by baking beads or dried legumes. Bake blind for 15 minutes, remove the baking paper and baking beads and allow the pastry to cool.

Heat the milk, chilli flakes and vanilla seeds in a saucepan at a medium heat. Do not boil.

Beat the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl until pale and fluffy and then add the cornflour and flour.

Gradually beat the hot milk into the egg mixture with vigorous whisking. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook at a medium heat, stirring constantly until the custard thickens. Remove from the heat to cool slightly, then add the butter and mix well.

In a separate bowl, melt the chocolate over a saucepan of steaming water or in the microwave and then slowly stir the melted chocolate into the custard.

Pour the custard into the pastry shell and place in the fridge to set.

Dust with the cinnamon prior to serving.

Extracted from TWO by Seline & Leandri van der Wat (Struik Lifestyle). Photographs: © Penguin Random House/Sean Calitz. Click here for more information.


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