酥皮蛋撻: Flaky Egg Tarts

Planning your Egg Tart Making Day

Making egg tart is more a life-style choice than a culinary activity. While it takes an afternoon, you are only actively cooking for about 1-2 hours all together. There are A LOT of rest periods.

So pick a day to stay home all day in your PJs. Put on your favourite binge-worthy TV or movie series, or an old-friend of a book who would smile rather than frown when you leave it for a few minutes every 20 minutes or so, or better yet, find a human friend to play you and your tasty playdough.


The Recipe

This recipe was modified from two sources. As you might notice, it is a hybrid version since I adore the Hong Kong egg tart’s flaky crust, and absolutely love the creamy Macau/Portuguese custard.

This recipe makes 40 egg tarts. I can’t eat them that fast, even with friends.
What is would do, is that I make all the puff pastry, but half the egg custard recipe.

Then I make 20 egg tarts. Eat approximately 6 in one sitting (c’mon, who spend this much efforts if they are not homesick), give away 10, fight over the last 4 with hubby the next day. They are the best when they are fresh out of the oven.

After the 1st 20 are un-shelled (and while I am eating the 6…), I will clean the cups and put the left over pastry into them, shape them, then freeze them on a half sheet pan. The moment they are frozen, I stack them within the baking cups, and put them in ziptop bags, and keep them in the freezer. Later, namely, when I no longer feel like a fatty, within 2 weeks, I will make another batch with the frozen shells.

The Tools

Some specialised equipment are needed for this very special treat.

  1. Chrysanthemum Baking Cups: I like the reusable ones because the disposable ones tend to not have the signature scalloping (? not sure what the technical term is). The shape is important to the flaking crust, as it maximise the surface area for maximum lift.
  2. Rolling device of some sort. A wine bottle, hard cardboard core of a roll of aluminium foil, a PVC pipe would do. I actually got a serious stainless steel one because I have very hot paws, and which melt the butter as I shape them…
  3. Food processor
  4. Digital scale (yes. I am serious.)
  5. Cling film (A.K.A. Saran wrap)
  6. Aluminium foil, heavy duty preferred
  7. Optional: cooling rack
  8. If you have hot hands, or don’t like to get your hands dirty: food grade nitrite gloves.
  9. Small pot (something that fit in your sink)
  10. One half sheet pan
  11. A sink–a clean sink.
  12. … a refrigerator or a ice-filled cooler


Egg custard

  • 120 g heavy cream, 35% fat (American heavy whipping cream is 36%+ so it would do nicely)
  • 60 g sugar (just under 1/3 cup)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 520 g full-fat fresh milk (approximately 2 + 1/4 cups)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Chinese Puff Pastry

Oil dough

  • 200g of all-purpose flour (approximately 1 + 1/3 cups)
  • 300g of butter–a little over 10oz, about 2.5 sticks (weight varies with quality. The higher the butter quality, the better your Egg Tart. Low-water, high-fat content is ideal. So go with Irish if you can afford it, Amish, if you are so blest to be able to get your hand on it.) 

Water dough

  • 250g of all-purpose flour (approximately 2 cups with change)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 100g of ice water (… approximately 7.2 tbsp… goodness, get a scale, people.)


Step 1: Chinese Puff Pastry

I loved the video instructions by KP Kwan, so go watch the 1st 5m of that. I will add the following:

  • Between each folding, I placed the dough back in the refrigerator for 20 minutes (hot hands, hot city).
  • Unlike the video, after rolling the dough to 1cm tall, I cut it with a shot-glass (cuz I classy), then roll them out to be 3mm tall. I found this worked better with the Chrysanthemum Baking Cups I have.
  • Keep the dough cool when you are not actively working with them. I often do 3-4 shot-glass cuts, then put the rest of the dough back in the refrigerator as I roll out them out and fit them into the baking cups. Then put the filled baking cups into a large Tupperware and put it in the refrigerator while I work with the next few (again, hot hands, hot city).

Step 2: Make egg custard

  1. Hold the vanilla, combine everything else together in a small pot until smooth.
  2. Make a water bath for you small pot: fill your sink with cold (not icy) water, measure level by your small pot. You want the water level to be such that when you put your small pot with the custard ingredients in it, the pot won’t float and tip and lose its precious cargo.
  3. Place pot over medium-low heat, stir GENTLY (don’t you ever bring violence upon a custard) until it start to coat the wall of the pot thinly. DO NOT BOIL.
  4. Move the pot to the water bath.
  5. Add vanilla extract
  6. Stir gently (again, he who brings violence to a egg custard shall suffer the wrath of the custard in return) until it is no longer steaming, then leave it in the bath to cool completely.

Step 3: Preheat Oven to 395°F  / 200°C

Step 4: Filling and Baking your precious treats

  1. Line a half sheet pan with aluminium foil, shiny side up.
  2. Line up your lovely, filled baking cups in the half sheet pan. Leave at least 1cm space in between
  3. Fill the cups with the custard. DO NOT be greedy, fill no more than 70% (otherwise when the puff pastry rises, it evicts your awesome custard out to be burn on the foil…).
  4. Bake 15 minutes at 200°C/390°F for 15 minutes
  5. Reduce heat to 180°C/360°F, bake for another 10 minutes.
  6. Turn off oven, leave the oven door ajar for 5 minutes then extract the half sheet pan from the oven. (This is an important step to give the custard a time to gather itself before you move it around).
  7. Check to make sure they are solid enough to be touched. If not, let it cool outside of the oven for a few more minutes.
  8.  Take each of the tart, take a fork and insert its tong along the sides, and gently tease it out of the baking cup.
  9. Place each on the cooling rack (if you don’t have one, put it on some sort of surface that allows some ventilation, e.g. sushi mat), place baking cup in the water bath to get it ready for washing.
  10. Eat as many as your conscience allows.
  11. Give away the rest.
  12. If you don’t can’t share all of them, store whatever you won’t be able to eat today. Wait for them to come to room temperature, then place one-story high, in an air-tight container (while this make them less crispy, it is much more important to keep it from absorbing whatever funky odor you have in the refrigerator–imagine, salmon egg tart, ew).


This is so crucial.

  1. Microwave (yes, I said that) on medium heat for LITERALLY 15 seconds, no more.
  2. Preheat toaster oven or broiler on high for 5 minutes
  3. Toast for 2 minutes, check to see if flaky, if not, another 1 minute. No more.



Essoe et al. (2017) CNS Poster

Poster to be presented at CNS 2017

Poster E90, Monday, March 27, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse.

Download poster.

Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting, 2017 @ beautifully foggy San Francisco, CA.


Long-term retention of vocabulary in two phonetically similar foreign languages is aided when learning occurs in highly distinctive virtual reality environments*

Joey Ka-Yee Essoe, Nicco Reggente, Ai Ohno, Hera Youn-Ji Baek, Jesse Rissman

The environmental context in which a memory is encoded can impact its later accessibility by virtue of tagging the memory with unique retrieval cues. We examined whether distinctive virtual environments (VEs) could be used as a means to provide contextual support during the learning of two sets of easily confusable stimuli. Specifically, we taught participants the translations of 50 English words in two pre-experimentally unfamiliar languages: 10 were learned only in Swahili, 10 only in Chinyanja, and 30 in both languages. Participants in the Dual Context group learned each language in a different VE, whereas participants in the Single Context group learned both languages in the same VE. On Day 2, after the fourth VE learning session, participants’ ability to recall the Swahili and Chinyanja translations of the English words was tested outside of the VEs. One week later (Day 8), participants were reached by telephone and performed a surprise recall test assessing their long-term retention of the foreign words. Our results revealed that while the Single and Dual Context groups showed comparable recall performance when tested on Day 2, the Dual Context group exhibited significantly reduced forgetting when tested on Day 8. This finding showcases how distinctive learning contexts can protect newly acquired memories from succumbing to excessive interference and promote long-term retention. An additional fMRI dataset collected from a separate group of Dual Context participants during Day 2 cued recall should provide further insights into the mechanisms that underlie their memory advantage.

*Yes, I am sorry about the looooong title. I don’t know what I was thinking. Never again.

Participants Wanted: Learning in VR

General information for prospective participants


Each participant may only participate in ONE of the following 3 versions.
Version 1: $20 in cash.
Version 2: $30 in cash.
Version 3: $50 in cash (participant may also request an image of their brain!)

Compensation will be dispensed upon completion of the session.
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Recipe: Chicken In 40 Cloves (for 6 or 36)


Another one of my favourites. Ugly but beautiful at the same time (not the most showy to the eyes, but beautiful to the mouth, soul, and wallet).

This recipe in grey feeds 6 very hungry people, or 8 not-too-hungry people.
BLUE TEXT: modification when cooking for a crowd.

I have feed up to 15 people for $20. That’s $1.33 per head.

Warning: This is not a dish for the vain.

  • Be not surprised: Ingestion of garlic cloves results in increased needs for ventilation for hours or days to come.
  • Did you know that your skin would extrude garlic “stuffs” after a hearty interaction with it?
    Allicin in garlic (and onion, cumin, etc) are metabolised quickly, resulting in sulphur-like compounds that are expressed through the pores of your skin.

O, come, set aside your vanity and live a little.


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Screen shot from video: Mars Hill Church's The Rebel's Guide To Joy Series - Charlotte Elliott. https://vimeo.com/20875016

A Children’s Sunday School Story: Charlotte Elliott (She of “The Invalid’s Hymn Book”)

I prepared this lesson for University Bible Church, Los Angeles, CA (Presented on 2015-05-17). This material was Intended for (and was understandable to) children between the age of 6 and 10.

This lesson took 26 minutes, including children’s response (mostly hand-raising, only 2 short questions), and the song in the end.

Image credits are noted in the captions (I did my to the best of trace and credit photographers or artists. Should there be error in the rights of these images, my sincere most apologies, and I welcome your email so I can make corrections).

Teacher’s Preparation:

This lesson plan is also available in MS Word and PDF formats.

  1. Read John 1Isaiah 52:13-53:12, and Ephesians 2.
  2. On the life of Miss Elliot (and Caesar Malan)
    – Video: Mars Hill Church’s The Rebel’s Guide To Joy Series – Charlotte Elliott.
    – Reflections by Al Maxey: “The Invalid Hymnist” (Other internet sources were also used to make this material.)
    – Wikipedia entry on Caesar Malan.
  3. Download companion slideshow
    The text on this page is attached to the “presenter’s note” area for each respective slide.
    – in KeyNote format (with animation)
    – in PowerPoint format (without animation)
  4. Find a musician. Provide Chords Sheet. Music by Brian Eichelberger, arrangement by The Modern Post.
Left Image: Unable to locate the name of the artist. Retrieved from http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx540.htm. Right Image: Retrieved from Armstrong Browning Library @ http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/ui/custom/default/collection/coll_ab-wpc/resources/custompages/poetsgallery/wpc_elliott-full.jpg

Unable to locate artist/photographer names. Left: Retrieved from link. Right: Retrieved from link.

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