Mandarin Custard Tart, By the Book

Mandarin Custard Tart

Here’s a Mandarin Custard Tart that proves a point. I’m very influenced by The French Laundry Cookbook. Not that this recipe comes from that book. In fact I don’t cook actual recipes from this masterpiece very often. There was a time when I honed my burgeoning skills by following Thomas Keller’s precise, well-crafted directions. I became a serious (though often bumbling) cook by attempting several of the impeccable creations from his first book. But I’ve moved on. Sorta.

Whenever I get inspired to create a recipe of my own I always check a few resources before I pull out a pot or a pan (or a tart tin).

If my plans include roasting meat, I trust Judy Rodgers. She knows how to transform a big chunk of beef, lamb, or pork into juicy, post-roast perfection. I may not always follow her recipes but I have her techniques practically memorized.

Similarly I always run my sauces by Daniel Boulud. For rustic baking techniques I turn to Dorie Greenspan. Custards belong to Thomas Keller.

Mandarin Custard Tart

Which isn’t to say that this Mandarin Custard Tart is Thomas Keller’s Mandarin Custard Tart. In The French Laundry Cookbook Keller says “these recipes… have been painstakingly documented, but they should be used as tools rather than exact blueprints.”

Well, in my case it took a few rounds of “painstakingly” treating his recipes (and techniques) as “exact blueprints” before I really understood what he meant.

Custard has a basic ratio: 3 eggs to every 2 cups of liquid. That liquid must contain a certain level of fat (typically cream). Too little fat and the texture goes off. Too much fat and it can develop an unpleasant mouthfeel. I learned this by “painstakingly” following Keller’s directions for Parmesan Custard.

He also says that custard baked in a pastry shell “invariably overcooks”. He may be right about that, but his quiches are some of the best I’ve ever had. Is that a contradiction? I don’t know… but my Mandarin Custard Tart (baked in a pastry shell) was delicious. I’ll give Thomas Keller credit for that, but I still consider this my own creation. GREG

Mandarin Custard TartMandarin Custard Tart

Mandarin Custard Tart with Honeyed Yogurt 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6–8Published

If you can’t find extra fine sugar just run some granulated sugar through the food processor for about 30 seconds.

Mandarin Custard Tart with Honeyed Yougurt


  • 8 ounce pastry dough (recipe of your choice)
  • 2 cup freshly squeezed and strained mandarin juice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 9 ounce heavy cream (that’s fluid ounces)
  • 6 ounce whole milk (that’s fluid ounces)
  • 2 teaspoon freshly grated mandarin zest (or more to taste)
  • 1 ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoon extra fine sugar (see notes)


On a lightly floured surface using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll pastry dough to about a 12-inch round, a generous 1/8‑inch thick. Carefully fold dough in half, and slide it onto rolling pin. Transfer to a 9‑inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Unfold the dough, easing it gently into pan; do not stretch dough. Press the dough into place, then run your roller over the edges of the pan, trimming it flush with the top all the way around. Transfer lined tart pan to a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until chilled.

Meanwhile, set the oven rack to the center position and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Once chilled, prick bottom of tart shell all over with a fork, line with parchment paper that extends beyond the rim at least 1 ½‑inches all around. Fill with pie weights or dried beans; bake on center rack of heated oven for 15 minutes. Remove parchment and weights, and continue to bake until set and lightly golden, about 15 minutes more. Let cool.

Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Meanwhile, place the mandarin juice in a medium sauce pan set over medium high heat. Reduce the liquid to about 6 fl oz (or 3/4 cup). Set aside to cool.

Once cool, whisk together eggs, egg yolks and granulated sugar until well incorporated. Stir in the cooled mandarin juice, cream, milk and zest. Pour the mixture into the cooled tart shell and carefully place on the center rack of oven. Bake until just set with a slight wobble in the center, about 45 minutes. A knife inserted into the center should NOT come out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

In a small bowl stir together yogurt and honey until well incorporated; set aside.

Once the tart is cool use a small fine mesh sieve to sprinkle extra fine sugar evenly across the top of tart. Using a torch, melt the sugar to form well-browned top. Allow to sit at least 5 minutes before removing tart ring and serving. Serve immediately with honeyed yogurt on the side (this tart is at its best the day it’s made).