Pastel de nata, the Portuguese custard tart that was born in monastery

Pastel de nata, the Portuguese egg yolk tart that was born in monastery | Shutterstock

The Portuguese are known for their incredible love for sweets and desserts. Their unique cuisine celebrates desserts in the most amazing way and the Portuguese streets are often lined with kiosks and shops that sell mouthwatering sweet delicacies.

Pastel de nata also known as the Portuguese custard tart is a rich tart pastry made using eggs. This classic tart was first made by the catholic monks of the Jeronimos monastery around 300 years ago. The monks used to dip their Cossacks and habits in egg whites to starch them. So, they began thinking of ways in which they could use the yolks. They then came up with a recipe of sweet tarts made using the egg yolks.

Later, when the monasteries suffered severe financial crisis following the political upheavals that rocked the Portuguese society, the friars and monks earned their livelihood by selling snacks and desserts. When the Jeronimos monastery was closed down in 1834, the monks handed over the recipe of this tart custard to a sugar factory. The sugar refinery, in 1837, opened a bakery in Belem in Portugal to sell this special tart custard.

Even today, the classic pastel de nata is sold at their bakery near the Jeronimos monastery. However, here, the tart is sold in the name pastel de Belem.

Pastel de nata has crispy and flaky outer pastry with super soft insides. There are many variants for this tart which is primarily made using egg yolks. Though the ingredients are very few, it is quite a difficult task to make pastel de nata.

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