Just like having gelatos in Italy, eclairs in France, loukoumades in Greece, you must have some egg tarts when visiting Portugal. Portugal is famous for their pastries and you will find more than these crusty tarts with a sweet eggy filling in the pastry shops, called pastelarias. Here are a few other Portuguese desserts you must try when visiting the country. The people here have a sweet tooth and are famous for their numerous egg-based desserts! Stop for a second breakfast or for coffee in the afternoon just like locals do and enjoy these Portuguese sweets warm.
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Portuguese Custard Tart
The most famous of all Portuguese desserts is probably the Pastéis de Nata. It is an egg tart pastry filled with custard cream and dusted with cinnamon and/or icing sugar. This dessert gets its origins from convents when nuns in the 1600s used egg whites to starch their clothes. They didn’t want to waste all the leftover yolks and made desserts with it. You can find at bakeries in Portugal selling different versions of these Egg tarts, try them at one of the Manteigaria locations, where you can watch them being made in their open kitchen. We bought a few to try at their Pastry shop in Porto.
Here is a recipe if you want to try making these egg tarts at home.
Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon
You can find “Pastéis de Nata” in many version all over Portugal but Pastéis de Belém is made from a secret recipe and can only be bought at the store in Belém right next to the Jerónimos Monastery. The recipe isn’t shared with anyone, it’s patented and the master confectioners sign a confidentiality agreement, pledging not to disclose the secret way they are made. Try this in Lisbon after your visit to the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém.
“A bride who eats a pastry will never take off her ring.”
An old Portuguese proverb says that “A bride who eats a pastry will never take off her ring” and so it is fairly common to see newlywed couples at Portuguese bakeries. Portugal is a country of traditions and, on a wedding day, after the reception, the bride and groom come to the bakery to indulge in a sweet Pastry for good luck!
Bolo De Bolacha
Another popular Portuguese dessert is Bolo de bolacha. It is made from ground maria biscuits, butter, egg yolks, and coffee. It sounds delicious especially if you are a fan of dipping maria biscuits in coffee. We, unfortunately, learnt about this after our Portugal trip and didn’t get to try it. I should try to make it at home! I always have some of those Maria biscuits.
Ovos Moles de Aveiro
Portuguese do love their eggs and make so many Portuguese desserts using in! In Aveiro you will find ovos moles or soft eggs. Thin rice-paper wafers are filled with an egg yolk and sugar cream, cooked over a precise heat until thick and rich. The soft and delicious wafers pay homage to Portugal’s nautical heritage and can be found in shaped like shells, clams and barrels.
Pastéis de Santa Clara (Saint Claire pastries) in Coimbra
When visiting Coimbra you have to try Pastéis de Santa Clara! Saint Claire Convent is said to have sheltered the nuns that had invented the recipe of these fabulous sweets. As with the rest of Portugal’s convents, the nuns used the egg white to ironing their uniforms and so came up with elaborate recipes to use the egg yolk. near Coimbra… they created the “Saint Claire pastries” and shared it with the university students.
Queijada and Travesseiro in Sintra
When visiting Sintra don’t miss visiting a pastelaria for one some flaky pastries and coffee. Travesseiro is a cylindrical puff pastry filled with an almond and egg cream. Queijadas de Sintra is a cheesecake-like pie – small and delicious made from fresh cheese, sugar, eggs, flour and a little cinnamon wrapped in a crispy batter. Both are specialties you can find only in Sintra. Order a couple each at the Casa Piriquita in the old center that has been making these since 1862 from a well-guarded secret recipe.
Rice pudding is popular is a lot of Asian countries, in fact, it is a staple during Indian festivals. Arroz Doce is rice pudding dessert that’s found on menus throughout Portugal and we enjoyed it every day for breakfast at The Yeatman Hotel we stayed in Porto. In some countries, like Thailand it is served with mango or in Sri Lanka it is cooked with coconut milk while other countries in the Middle East make them with saffron and pistachios, the Portuguese dessert Arroz Doce is served with a general dusting of cinnamon.
Ginja de Óbidos
Don’t miss this famous cherry liqueur when visiting Obidos. Its existence goes back to around 17th century when the monks during their leisure time produced these liqueurs. The liqueur was made from ginja which is a fruit very similar to cherries. You can drink a little glass of ginja liqueur at any bar in Óbidos, after all it is called Ginja de Obidos. It has a strong flavor, with a sorely ginja fragrant which grows in abundance in this region. While it is not a Portuguese pastry like the others on this list since it is usually served in a small chocolate glass, I decided to include it 🙂 You can choose to drink you ginja from white chocolate or dark chocolate cup.
Pão De Ló or Ovor Sponge cake
Pão de Ló is a soft Portuguese sponge cake made from eggs, sugar, and flour. You can find these Portuguese pastries on most restaurant menus and in the cakes section of pastry shops in Portugal.
Mousse De Chocolate
Chocolate Mousse is not unique to Portugal but it is a favorite dessert for many Portuguese. Mousse de Chocolate or Portuguese version of chocolate mousse uses very dark chocolate and is rich and decadent.
Dom Rodrigo and Tarte Mista Algarvia
Dom Rodrigo and Tarte Mista Algarvia are the Portuguese desserts you will find in the Algarve region. Tarte Mista Algarvia or Tarte Três Delícias is made up of three main ingredients: carob, almonds, and figs. Dom Rodrigo is prepared with a combination of egg yolks, sugar, ground almonds, cinnamon, and fios de ovos – a traditional confectionary product consisting of thin egg threads. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it! This list doesn’t include the desserts from Madeira and Azores, the Portuguese islands 😉
What are some of the desserts you have enjoyed during your travels? We are always on the lookout for the best desserts whether at home in Dallas or when we travel. Some of our favorites have been Sacher Torte in Vienna, Polenta e Osei in Bergamo, Crema Catalana, a Spanish version of Creme Brûlée in Barcelona…. to name a few. I hope this list helps you taste all the yummy Portuguese desserts if you find yourself in Portugal.
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