Portugal has a lot of desserts, but do you know where they come from? The answer is monasteries. When sugar arrived in monasteries in Portugal, Portuguese nuns and monks made many recipes using it. But not only sugar, but they also use eggs in their recipes, especially egg yolks.
Portugal is a country where wherever travelers turn, you are sure to see a confeitaria (sweets shop) or pastelaria (pastry shop) selling hot and crunchy pastel de nata (custard tarts) or soft queijada (cheesecakes) that are just right to go with it. a cup of espresso in the morning. Let’s take a look at the typical Portuguese desserts that have been wandering around in the following!
- Po de Deus
Translated as God’s bread, this Portuguese dessert is a combination of soft brioche with a topping made from desiccated coconut and eggs. Usually, the dough is flavored with rum, lemon zest, or vanilla, then the bread is baked until the topping turns golden and has a crunchy texture.
This sweet roll can be found at any time and is usually eaten on a menu for breakfast. In addition, this bread is also associated with All Saints’ Day and an ancient Portuguese tradition called pão-for-Deus, when children knock on doors, recite poetry, and then ask for sweets and sweets.
- Pasteis de Nata
Not all desserts have to be eaten after enjoying the main course. This dessert is delicious and can be enjoyed at any time of the day. One of the typical Portuguese desserts, pastéis de nata, particular, can be eaten as a “snack” for coffee. This sweet cake is very famous and is commonly known as “Pastéis de Belém”. That’s because this dessert comes from Belém.
Pasteis de nata is very popular in Portugal and can be bought anywhere. The appearance of this cake is slightly similar to pudding. The ingredients for this dessert are puff pastry and cream made using corn starch, milk, eggs, and sugar syrup. This snack is not recommended for those who are vegan.
The locals have a habit of enjoying a pasteis de nata or two with a cup of coffee. This is one of Portugal’s must-try desserts when visiting Lisbon. Usually, this dish is best eaten on the spot, fresh out of the oven, and sprinkled with cinnamon powder on top.
- Bolo Rei
Bolo Rei is the king of holiday desserts in Portugal. If translated bolo rei means king cake. Tourists can see these cakes lined up on cake shop shelves and markets across the country during the long holiday season that runs from late October to early January. If you’re visiting Portugal over Christmas, these colorful cakes are almost impossible to avoid.
A unique fact about bolo rei is that generally two things are included in this cake, namely fava beans, and a small gift, usually a toy. The person who in the piece of cake gets fava beans means he has to provide bolo rei at Christmas next year.
For gifts, generally, the prizes are in the form of toys that can be found inside a slice of cake. This custom is similar to the British tradition of hiding money in Christmas pudding to be found.
- Po de ló
This traditional Portuguese cake is called “pão de ló”. This simple Portuguese dessert is made with flour, eggs, and sugar. Depending on the area where the cake is made, usually, the center of the cake is a bit moist. This cake texture can be dry to liquid. Usually, the dry ones are easy to spot because there is a hole in the middle of the cake.
The liquid version of the “Pão de ló” from the towns of Ovar and Alfeizerão is the most famous. According to the story, the cake was melted on the inside due to the cook’s mistake. As he was baking a cake for a king’s visit, he was in a hurry. He had taken the cake out of the oven before the baking time was over.
The center of the cake is still a bit runny but the king liked it so the recipe is still there today. This dessert also reached Japan brought by the Portuguese and there this dessert is popularly known as “pan”.
Although the ingredients used to make it look simple, such as flour, sugar, eggs, fresh cheese, and cinnamon, it produces a beautiful cake called queijada. The paper-thin pastry shell is topped with a cheesecake-like marzipan filling and the top is caramelized.
While queijada can be found all over Portugal, the best comes from Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage city of fantastical palaces, an easy day trip from Lisbon.
- Tibias de Braga
In the north of Portugal, there is a city called Braga. The city is known for its religious heritage and is considered the religious capital of Portugal. Not only being a cultural city, but Braga is also a center of innovation for this country.
Tibias de Braga or Portuguese puff pastry is one of the most traditional sweets in Braga. According to the news, this cake has been sold in the city for approximately six decades. Named the tibia because it has an elongated shape like the tibia bone. This cake has a crunchy texture and contains sweet cream and is sprinkled with sugar.
It is best to enjoy sweet tibias de Braga with a cup of coffee or tea. The fillings of these cakes range from hazelnut, and caramel to fruity flavors like pineapple, raspberry, and more.
- Papos de Anjo
Papos de anjo like most other Portuguese sweets, the dough requires egg yolks in large quantities, approximately 20 seeds. One of the most popular sweets in the historic Douro Litoral Province, the baking of the cake can be traced back to the Santa Clara Monastery which was founded in the 18th century and is in the north.
According to most recipes for this sweet, the yolks should be beaten until fluffy, then the mixture is baked until firm. Lastly, the cakes are then briefly simmered in a sugar syrup which is flavored especially with vanilla, rum, or orange zest.
The finished product can be wrapped in communion wafers and cut into half-moons or preserved in simple syrup.
- Baba de Camelo
Want to taste a typical Portuguese dessert that is quick to make? Try the baba de camelo. The meaning of the name is quite funny, namely “camel saliva”. Camelo in English is a camel which means camel in Indonesian.
While Portugal is famous for its egg-based sweets, baba de camelo doesn’t fall into this category. The origin of this recipe is not known, but the most common version comes from the story that once a woman named Valentina had many guests one night.
Valentina doesn’t have much groceries at home but wants to give food to her guests. Finally, he made a dessert using condensed milk and eggs. Worried that the dish would not be enough to share, he decided to name it baba de camelo to discourage guests from trying it.
The trick works, but those who dare try to taste it are surprised by how delicious it is. Most of these Portuguese desserts are served in restaurants because it is so easy to get them.
- Bolas de Berlim
Just mention the bolas de Berlin to the Portuguese and they’ll instantly remember the old days. It seems like everyone has a favorite childhood story to tell about these fluffy, ball-shaped cakes filled with egg cream and covered sugar. This is the local version of the German Berliner donut.
But both have differences. The Portuguese version of the donut is sliced lengthwise to make room for a thicker, runny filling. Traders brave the heat by selling these cakes on beaches across the country in cake boxes.
- Travesseiros de Sintra
Made from puff pastry, this Portuguese dessert is topped with sugar and filled with almond cream and egg. As the name suggests, travesseiros (meaning pillow in Portuguese) dough is rolled into a long, slender “pillow” shape.
This food is a dessert that comes from the City of Sintra. Travesseiros de Sintra is produced and sold at Piriquita, the bakery that invented this dish in the 1940s and the original recipe remains a secret. Travesseiros are best served freshly baked and topped with a little powdered sugar.
For delicious Travesseiros, look for the yellow-tiled Casa Piriquita located in the center of Sintra Town. Here visitors can enjoy some of Portugal’s most amazing desserts.
The array of typical Portuguese desserts will surely please those who like sweet foods. There are desserts from this country that use simple ingredients and leftovers but still taste delicious. There are also those whose ingredients remain secret until now.
For dessert lovers, this dessert from Portugal is not to be missed. Everything looks so tempting. Which cake do you want to taste the most?