The History of Conventual Sweets

The History of Conventual Sweets

One of Portugal’s most incredible traditions is, without a doubt, that of conventual sweets. The basic ingredients of this confectionery are gems, almonds, sugar and flour. Combined in different ways and in varying proportions, each of these products shapes different sweets. All delicious and full of history!
Before the conventual confectionery, sweets did not carry sugar because Portugal still did not import sugar from Brazil. In addition, the Arab influence brought honey and almonds to desserts. The
convents, which are the point of origin for most Portuguese sweets, did not make much use of egg yolks, the whites being the most used, both for making wafers and other sweets.
Ah, the egg whites were also widely used as a purifier in the production of white wine and also for ironing clothes. For these reasons, they ended up not being as greasy as we know them today, you know? The doughs and fillings were drier, even using the lard to give a greater alloy and shine when the dessert is baked.
The History of Conventual Sweets
Over time, the sugar it started to be more commercialized by the world. The consequence of that? The women and nuns who stayed in the convents began to incorporate it into the sweets. With this new ingredient,
desserts were increasingly diversified, while others were improved, creating the tradition of conventional sweets.
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lard it is still used today in the preparation of most of these sweets, as well as egg yolks, sugar and almonds. The recipes for most of these desserts are family secrets and are passed down orally from generation to generation.
I confess that I think it is a pity that they are not written, since oral histories tend to come to an end when traditions do not follow a continuity. Still, it’s fascinating to know how much these people care about the sweets, the recipes and the whole story behind it!
The History of Conventual Sweets
Convents and monasteries sold sweets to try to improve the difficult financial situation they were going through. Therefore, the conventual confectionery spread throughout the country and was passed on to families who helped these places in the preparation of these desserts.
As we were in
Real Village, we went to know the House Lapão, which is the most traditional confectionery in the region, with sweets that follow recipes from ancient generations. Dona Rosa, responsible for the production of this confectionery, uses only local or regional ingredients. Another difference is that all these products are not of industrial origin. It is very worthwhile to take a trip through this part of Portugal 😉
Most of the convent sweets vary according to each region of the country. In Vila Real, for example, the most typical sweets there are
rooster crests. Another super regional candy are the sintra pillows, loved by the Portuguese as well as by all the tourists who pass through Sintra.
The History of Conventual Sweets
Egg Cigars and Half Moons are other Portuguese delicacies that deserve to be highlighted and follow the same style of recipe, with egg yolks, sugar and almonds never failing to be part of the mixture that forms the dessert.
Oh, and the famous
cream cake, also known as belém pastel? They alsothey are also conventual sweets. Created by the Jerónimos Monastery, they were a way to earn money to maintain the place. The production of belém pastels started in 1837 and the recipe is the same until today.
So, did you feel like trying these Portuguese wonders?
The History of Conventual Sweets

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