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Sweet tooth? Portugal’s Love of Pastry

The Portuguese have a sweet tooth. And, you might say that the Nata is Portugal’s best know ambassador.

Originally from Lisbon, the ever-popular pastéis de nata have made a name for themselves. These are small, extremely rich custard tarts often sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.  Theses two-bite-treats supposedly go back more than 200 years with a recipe that is still a secret to this day.  Like so many treats, they came out of a convent, where there was always a surplus of egg yolks (the white were used for starch).

Other popular pastries found in cafes, bakeries and pastry shops across the country, include the bola de berlim, similar to a donut, the traditional sweet cake or pão-de-ló, papos-de-anjo and ovos moles- both with a sugar and egg yolk base. In the south, especially in the Algarve region, recipes may also include almonds and marzipan. 

Pasteis de Belem - Gastronomy2_08 - Photo credit to Turismo de Lisboa

Most towns take the typical egg or cream-based pastry and create their own local specialty. Take Queijadas de Sintra: for example. These small egg pastries are made with fresh cheese as the main ingredient.  They start with a thin, flaky crust, which is then filled with a mixture of flour, sugar, egg yolk, fresh cheese and cinnamon. Queijadas de Sintra are easily recognizable by their hand-wrapped artisan paper packages that come in rolls.

Fradinhos: These are queijadas made with marzipan from Mafra, Portugal.  A bit less know, but equally as mouth watering! 

In Azores, the highlight may be the Queijadas Dona Amélia, pastries made with honey and cinnamon - they are dense and packed with flavor from spices and molasses. According to the history books, the name of this pastry was crafted to honor the visit of Queen D. Amélia and King Dom Carlos to Terceira. 

Tentúgal pastries, from Centro, shaped like a cigar, are baked puff pastry sticks filled with a sweet custard comprised of- you guessed it- egg yolks and sugar.  


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