My favorite Chinese dessert is the egg tart. Found in bakeries and dim sum restaurants, it is always a great way to finish a meal, eat as breakfast, or enjoy as a snack.
The best egg tarts have a light and flaky crust with a silky custard that melts in your mouth at the first bite. My favorites in the Bay Area are from Koi Palace (http://www.koipalace.com/default.htm?cache=07012013) and from Golden Gate Bakery (http://goldengatebakery.com/). My only problem with Golden Gate is that they are not always open and their schedule is unpredictable.
Overall, most bakeries in Chinatowns across America are pretty comparable. The flakiness of the crust comes from the lard in the pastry dough. The color of the custard, to me, tells you about the quality of the ingredients. The more yellow it is, there is either more egg yolk and not enough milk or they added some dye (don’t be surprised by that!). A good one should always look like this:
There are also these kinds of egg tarts:
Many places try to short change the care needed for a great flaky crust and use a simpler tart crust version instead. While they are still good, they are not the same as the original egg custard tarts and taste more like a custard pie. It can be argued that this crust is “healthier” because they don’t use lard, but I don’t think it’s worth it.
And what about recipes for home? I have yet to find one, so I’ll keep you posted.