Salt/Sweet Popcorn Custard Tart

Popcorn flavoured custard in a popcorn pastry shell

One of my closest friends, his fiancée and their kid(s) are moving to Singapore next month, so I created this recipe - inspired by their love of American flavours - to bake them something for their going away present.

I wanted to get as much popcorn flavour in as possible, so there's toasted & ground popcorn in the pastry, the custard is infused with popcorn, and the topping ... well that's actually popcorn.

Makes 1 tart


For the fresh popcorn

  • 110g popcorn kernels
  • 3tbsp rape seed oil

For the pastry

  • 10g popped corn from the above
  • 215g type 55 flour or equivalent
  • 3g fine sea salt
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 150g unsalted butter, cold from the fridge, chopped into cubes
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Icing sugar for dusting the work surface

For the custard

  • Approximately 1/2 the popped popcorn from the above
  • 600g whipping cream (we only need 500g, but this includes some extra in case of popcorn absorption)
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 75g caster sugar

For the topping

  • All remaining popcorn
  • 40g sugar
  • 3g fine sea salt
  • 15g unsalted butter


  • 7 inch tart case
  • Baking beans

Pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees C.

Make the popcorn

The most fun part, and you'll see everyone in the house suddenly appear at the cooker. Heat 3 tablespoons of rape seed oil in a reasonably large lidded pan. When it's hot, throw in the popcorn kernels and immediately put the lid on. Shake every 20 seconds or so to make sure they don't stick. The popcorn will do its thing - as soon as the popping stops, tip into a bowl and set aside.

Make the pastry

Take 20g of the fresh popcorn and spread evenly on a baking tray. Place in your pre-heated oven and toast for around 5 minutes. It should have a slightly brown colour, but nothing more than that - so keep an eye on it.

When it's done, tip into the bowl of your food processor and blitz until it's a fine powder. You'll probably get some random un-popped kernels in there, so try to get those out before adding to the pastry.

Weigh out 10g of the ground popcorn into a bowl, then add the flour, salt and sugar. Stir it around with your hands to ensure it's all uniformly mixed. Add in the cold cubes of butter, then rub everything together by hand until you get the texture of breadcrumbs.

Next, briefly whisk the egg and egg yolk to combine, then pour this into the flour mixture and start to bring it all together by hand. Tip it out onto your work surface then, trying not to overwork it, gently push together until you get a smooth ball of pastry. Press down into a dish shape then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour.

When the pastry has rested, prepare your tart tin by rubbing it lightly with butter (if you have Bake Easy spray that would also do the trick). Unwrap and dust your work surface with icing sugar, then carefully roll out the pastry until it's about 4mm thick. Fold this over your tart case and press into the corners as carefully as you can. Roll any excess over the top but don't cut it off.

This pastry is a kind of Pâte brisée, and can be quite hard to work with because of its high butter content and the fact that your corn won't absorb as much of the egg's moisture as the flour. Try not to create cracks - but if you do, just use some of the extra pastry to fill them in.

Place your tart case on a tray in the freezer for an hour, and turn the oven down to 170 degrees C.

Make the custard

While the pastry is freezing, you can now infuse the cream with the popcorn. Pour 500ml of whipping cream into a heavy bottomed pan and heat until it just comes to the boil. Remove from the heat, then transfer to a mixing bowl. Add approximately 1/2 of the popcorn from the first stage, then use a spoon to mix it with the hot cream. Place cling film over the top and leave to steep for about 45 minutes.

When the time is up, strain the popcorn from the cream using a fine sieve, and push down with a spoon to extract as much liquid from the popcorn as you can. Weigh the cream again, top it back up to 500ml, then pour back into the heavy saucepan.

Place the egg yolks in another bowl with the sugar and move back to the pastry case.

Blind bake the case

After the case has chilled, take some silver foil and tightly cover the inside of the case, pushing it into the corners, up the sides, over the top and around the outside edges (matte side down). Fill the case with baking beans, then place in the oven for 20 minutes.

At this point the pastry, being so buttery, will have fallen off around the top of the case and you should be left with a clean edge at the top. Very carefully remove the beans & foil, then return the case to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Remove the case from the oven, then turn it down to 130 degrees C for the final stage.

Baking the custard

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow, then heat the infused cream to the boil again. Pour a small amount onto the egg yolks while whisking in order to temper the eggs, then slowly add the rest of the cream.

Pour the mix through another sieve into a pouring jug, then place the pastry case back into the oven shelf. Next, pour the infused custard into the case and bake for 35 minutes until just set.

Make the topping

With the tart baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the tart case.

In a heavy pot, heat the 40g of caster sugar until it starts to become a caramel colour (just before the smoke point). Carefully add the salt, then the butter, and whisk until it stops bubbling. Pour this over the remaining popcorn and use a spoon to quickly mix before the caramel sets.

Place the now slightly hot popcorn onto the top of the cooled tart - the heat will allow it to sink in slightly and keep its place. As you pull the popcorn from the bowl, you'll also get some pulled sugar - so just randomly throw that over the top too.

Devour at room temperature. You'll need a really sharp knife to crack through the caramel!