What’s a Milk Tart and Why Should I Be Making It for Thanksgiving?

Bring some South African flavors to this year's Thanksgiving dessert table with what in Afrikaans is called a melktert.


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Photo by Caronine Garbutt

When fall begins to show its colors you know it’s that time of the year for flavors such as cinnamon and orange. The milk tart, or melktert in Afrikaans, is one of South Africa’s most traditional sweet pies. The recipe originated in the Cape of Good Hope; Dutch settlers introduced the milk based filling and the Cape Malays added the cinnamon flavor. The result is a rich, creamy custard filling with a hint of cinnamon. Today you’ll find many versions of this pie in terms of consistency but the milky cinnamon taste remains the same. We highly recommend this simple recipe as one of the dessert pies for Thanksgiving.

 

Ingredients

Crust
1 ready-to-bake puff pastry round

Filling
2 cups of milk
1 cinnamon stick
grated rind of 1 orange or clementine (optional)
1/4 cup of sugar
3 Tbsp cake flour
1 Tbsp corn flour
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp butter
1 egg
cinnamon

For the Crust
Preheat the oven to 395°F. Line a pie dish with the rolled out pastry and keep it cool. For some extra tips, check out this definitive guide to making the best pie crust.

For the Filling
Place the milk, cinnamon stick, and orange rind into a saucepan and bring to boil. This will infuse the milk with flavor. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir. Cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, corn flour, and salt. Gradually add this mixture of dry ingredients to the hot milk. 

Place saucepan back on stove and cook on low heat whilst stirring continuously until the mixture becomes thick and smooth. 

Remove from the heat, scoop out the cinnamon stick, and add the butter. Let it cool slightly. Beat the egg in a separate bowl and add to the mixture. Mix well to create a silky smooth texture and pour the mixture into the lined pie dish. 

Bake for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°F, and then bake for another 5 minutes. Dust the filling with cinnamon and serve hot.

This recipe also works well as a crust-less pie if you omit the puff pastry.

 

To create your own locally sourced Thanksgiving dinner, check out these recipes from Hudson Valley chefs.

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