The first time I had queijadas was at an Easter egg hunt many years ago. A couple of our good friends used to host the event every year for their families and friends. The hosts would offer an array of food choices, and most attendees brought their own offering. Needless to say, no one left hungry.
It was love at first bite. I love custardy desserts, and this cupcake immediately made it to the top of my list. Luckily for me, they were on the dessert table at each subsequent egg hunt. While the children looked forward to a piñata, candy, trinkets, ice cream sundaes, and gathering eggs, I secretly looked forward to queijadas.
Eventually, I started to make my own and have done so for years. Over time, I tweaked the recipe to make it work for me. My first attempts yielded delicious results, but I found the success rate to be inconsistent. Sometimes they came out custardy and smooth and other times, not so much. I had batches where the solids separated from the milk during baking. I discovered that the secret is to make sure all of the ingredients are well incorporated. There is a lot of sugar in this recipe. To ensure it is thoroughly incorporated, I use warm milk to help everything blend into a harmonious symphony…like chocolate and peanut butter or summertime and lemonade or Ross and Rachel (when they weren’t on a break!).
Hope you all got my Friends reference!
Back to the food. I have always had this dessert plain—without color enhancement. But for a festive Easter look, I added food coloring. How cute are they? Now, excuse me while I taste test a few.
Queijadas (Portuguese Custard Cupcakes):
1 stick (8 tbsp.) butter, cut into chunks
3 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups flour1 tsp. baking powder
3 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of 2 lemons
Green and red food coloring
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin pans with cooking spray (enough for 30-count).
Melt butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add milk, stirring occasionally, until it is warm. Turn off heat.
Whisk flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a deep mixing bowl, beat eggs for 1 minute. Slowly add sugar, 1 cup at a time. Continue beating for 1 minute after the last addition. Add vanilla extract and lemon zest. Blend. Slowly add half of the flour mixture, followed by about 1 cup of the milk mixture, beating for about 30 seconds after the milk addition. Add the rest of the flour, then all of the remaining milk mixture. Beat for just over 1 minute. The batter will be watery and will splash. Angling a large paper plate over the bowl with help contain the splashing.
Divide batter equally (not an exact science—just eye-ball this) into three separate bowls. Add a few drops of green food coloring to one bowl and red to another bowl (I use about 1/8 teaspoon of gel food coloring). Whisk thoroughly to blend. Add more if needed to obtain desired color. The third bowl remains undyed.
Fill muffin pans 3/4 full. Bake for 35–38 minutes. Edges should be golden brown. Cupcake will fall in the center upon standing. Keep refrigerated and serve chilled. Makes about 30.