Almost all Portuguese sweet treats have a secret recipe guarded inside a family or a convent during centuries. ‘Pão de Ló’, a famous cake from 15th century made by nuns, or ‘Pastéis de Nata’, the typical egg tart pastry, made by the convent of Jeronimos with closely guarded ingredients and techniques that make them unforgettable.
For those who are addicted to sweats, Portugal is a paradise on earth. And nuns and monks had an important role, creating innumerous recipes based in two main ingredients: eggs and sugar.
Other unforgettable Portuguese sweet – that are also famous in Brazil – are ‘Queijadas’ (cheese tarts). Despite the name, the majority of them don’t contain any cheese. Think of it as a pastry.
Traveling around, you may find many types of ‘Queijadas’, made with different ingredients such as coconut, almonds, cheese, cinnamon or sweetened condensed milk. Usually, the recipes are short and simple, with very few ingredients but some are absolutely divine and have secret recipes that are kept inside families and confectioneries during centuries.
In the Azores, you may have a hard time choosing: ‘Queijadas da Vila’ or ‘Queijadas da Graciosa’? Our advice? Try both.
Queijadas de Vila Franca do Campo (S. Miguel Island)
Nuns of the old Convent of Santo André, in São Miguel Island, created a recipe that became one of the most wanted typical sweets from the Azores. Since the 16th century, when the Convent was built, this recipe has been enjoyed by many generations of Azoreans.
Nowadays, the recipe is no longer produced by the Convento, but by two families that keep the original recipe in secret. The Morgados are one of the families that have made the famous ‘Queijas da Vila’ since 1961.
The main ingredients are milk, eggs (mostly the yolk, the whites were use to starch clothes) and the sugar, which creates a unique texture and an unmistakable flavor.
Make sure you try one (or two!) ‘Queijadas de Vila Franca do Campo’, one of the most precious treasures of the sweets to hail from a Portuguese .
Queijadas da Graciosa (Graciosa Island)
‘Queijadas da Graciosa’ are a typical sweet from Graciosa but they are also famous outside the Azores. Star-shaped, they were typical in every gathering on the island, becoming a tradition in Graciosa’s families.
Nowadays they are baked by the artisan Maria de Jesus dos Santos Bettencourt Félix in her cake shop in São Mateus, in Vila da Praia. And that’s why nowadays they are also known locally as ‘Queijadas da Praia’ (beach cheese tarts).
Baked with fresh and natural ingredients, such as cinnamon, milk, sugar, flour, butter, eggs and salt, the ‘Queijadas da Praia’ recipe follows the nun’s techniques and ensures an unforgettable moment for those who try.
Pay attention: they are “exported” in small blue boxes to the different islands. Definitely a must-try in the Azores.
One last note, anyone from Terceira will by this point crying foul! What of the wonderful pastry known as Dona Amelia from Terceira? This pastry was connected to commemorate the official visit by Queen D. Amelia to Terceira in 1901 with King D. Carlos I. Baked with eggs, molasses, cinnamon and corn flour and then toped with powered sugar, they are pastry royalty.