As Easter is around the corner, let’s explore the wonderful world of Easter desserts. Easter is the most important festival in Christianity because it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christian tradition holds that all of humanity’s sins were paid for by Jesus’s sacrifice, and this also means that his resurrection represents the hope of salvation. To celebrate this day, different countries around the world have created their own unique celebration and food that represented not only their beliefs but also their cultures. As to complete a perfect Easter dinner, there must always be some sweet treats to share with family and friends. Today, let’s explore an iconic Easter dessert from Italy, Pane di Pasqua.

What is Pane di Pasqua?

Pane di Pasqua or Italian Easter Bread is a light, eggy, and slightly sweet brioche bread often formed into wreaths or braided and flavored with the bursting aroma of citrus and spices. Pane di Pasqua always looks festive and bright. Aside from its crisp notes of citrus and subtle notes of spices, Pane di Pasqua always has a special additional ingredient embedded on it, colorfully painted eggs. After the eggs are colored, they are placed into the raw dough, and together they are baked in the oven until the bread is golden brown. 

Its Meanings

Since Italy is one of the world’s most famous culinary destinations, Italians love to celebrate the country’s holidays with food. After the period of lent, people will celebrate Easter Sunday by splurging and indulging. Of all the good food that is enjoyed around Easter, Pane di Pasqua is the one that represents some very special and meaningful symbols. First of all, bread has always had an incredible significance around many cultures’ Easter tables. For centuries, bread has been known as the prime source of life. During the process of making Pane di Pasqua, three pieces of dough are braided together to represent the Holy Trinity. The bread is baked in the shape of a wreath which represents the crown of thorns that Jesus Christ wore at the crucifixion. Lastly, colorful eggs are placed directly into the dough which represents the symbol of new life. By the time the baking process is finished, depending on each family’s preference, Pane di Pasqua can be glazed with a sugary glaze and sprinkled with nonpareils.

Its Uniqueness

What makes Pane di Pasqua stand out from the others is its unique flavor. The main ingredients that make up this bread’s one-of-a-kind scent are the combination of bright, springy orange juice and anise. These two ingredients always work very well together, and as a result, each bite into this sweet and fluffy bread will give you joy and great satisfaction. For those who are not a fan of anise, you will not have to worry because after the bread is baked, the flavor of anise will become very mellow, and it will just leave a hint of spice in the bread. If you still do not want to add any anise into your bread, you can use cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla extract. Though I personally love the smell of anise, I find that cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract will work just fine as they can pair really well with orange juice. Last but not least, to make Pane di Pasqua smell extra bright and citrusy for springtime, add some fresh orange zest into the dough. Since the main flavor of this bread is orangey, there is no such thing as too much orange.

Have you had Pane di Pasqua before? If you have not, let’s try making it this Easter weekend.


If you have been to Japan or have heard of this wonderful country, then you may know of a delicious type of cake that Japan is very famous for, Japanese rice cake, also known as Mochi. Mochi is a rice cake that is made of steamed glutinous rice. It is Japan’s staple food, and it is used as the main ingredient in a lot of different dishes in Japanese cuisine including main dishes and desserts.

The History of Mochi

Just like many other Asian desserts, mochi’s origin is unknown. Since rice has been around forever and is the main ingredient in every Asian culture, a lot of different Asian countries, especially East and Southeast Asian countries such as China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam, incorporated rice in their traditional dishes. Mochi was believed to be created in China then widely adopted and modified by other neighboring countries. Japan and Korea both have been known for their delicious chewy mochi. As early as the tenth century, mochi has been used as an imperial offering in religious ceremonies. In Japan, mochi is also used as a treat when the Japanese celebrate their New Year. This tradition is believed to be started from the Heian Period in Japan, which was between the years of 794 to 1192.

How Is Mochi Made?

The process of making mochi is pretty simple. First, we soak glutinous rice overnight, then we steam it until it is fully cooked. Since glutinous rice has a very high content of gluten and sugar, it will become sticky once steamed. In the traditional way, mochi is made by continuously pounding cooked sticky rice in a wooden or stone mortar. The mortar used in this process is not an ordinary one. Instead, it is an oversized mortar that is almost waist-high standing on the ground. After sticky rice is cooked, we put it in the mortar and pound on it using a wooden mallet. This process takes some time and a lot of effort, but it is worth it. In Japan, there is a ceremony called “mochitsuki” which means “pounding mochi.” This ceremony often attracts a lot of people to come and watch since its process is unique. There will be two people, one will keep on pounding and another one will turn the mochi and drizzle water on it so it can be moist and pliable. The pairs must work in sync or the one who turns the mochi will get his hand smashed by the person who pounds. Once the pounding process is done, the mochi becomes very smooth and stretchy. It will then be divided into smaller pieces and shaped into round semi-flat domes.

Daifuku Mochi – Photo by Rachelle on Bear Naked Food

Variations of Mochi

In Japan, mochi is used in a wide variety of dishes from savory to sweet. For instance, in a savory dish known as Chikara Udon, pieces of toasted mochi are added on top. Chikara udon is an udon noodle soup dish made of udon noodles, kelp and bonito broth, and mochi on top. As in desserts, the Japanese invented a lot of different dishes with mochi. The most common type of mochi dessert you can find in Japan as well as in Asian supermarkets in the United States is daifuku mochi, which means mochi stuffed with a sweet filling, usually red bean paste.

In China and Taiwan, mochi is often coated in coconut flakes, peanut powder, or black sesame powder and is served as dessert. The mochi can also be stuffed with a sweet paste such as red bean paste or black sesame paste. 

In Vietnam, there is a variation of mochi that is often eaten as a savory dish called “bánh giầy.” Unlike the Japanese or Chinese mochi, the Vietnamese variation of mochi is a little bit thicker in texture but still as smooth and stretchy. The banh giay can be eaten as is or with a thick slice of Vietnamese ham. It is perfect for breakfast.

If you have not tried mochi before, try it some days when you have a chance. It is very delicious and available in almost every Asian supermarket.

Nama Chocolate

What is Nama Chocolate?

If you are a fan of chocolate and you have never heard of or never had Nama chocolate before, then you are missing out. Unlike any other type of chocolate, Nama chocolate is a form of chocolate ganache invented in Japan in the late 1980s. It is made of fresh cream and melted high-quality chocolate. After the mixture solidifies, the block of chocolate will then be cut into bite-size rectangles and dusted with a generous amount of cocoa powder on top.

What Makes Nama Chocolate Special?

What makes Nama chocolate stand out from the rest is that its recipe requires the use of high-quality chocolate instead of regular baking chocolate, and super fresh cream from Hokkaido, Japan. The original Nama chocolate comes from Hokkaido’s capital city, Sapporo. If you have not already known this, Hokkaido is the second-largest and northernmost island in Japan. It has much cooler climates as well as wonderful natural terrain which make it an ideal location for sourcing fresh dairy products. Hokkaido’s milk and cream are said to be so smooth and rich that the creaminess coats your mouth. The name Nama Chocolate translates to raw chocolate which refers to its pureness and freshness.

Photo by Jun on Food52

Nama Chocolate’s History

According to multiple sources and the locals, the person who invented Nama chocolate is believed to be pastry chef Masakazu Kobayashi. When Kobayashi opened his first confectionery shop in Shonan, he introduced to customers his wonderful creation, a type of chocolate that is a demigod of solid and liquid chocolate. Nama chocolate has been loved since. After Kobayashi joined Japan’s sweet snack giant, Meiji, he introduced a new line of chocolate called Melty Kiss, which is a more affordable type of Nama chocolate. The reason they named it Melty Kiss is because the chocolate melts very easily. As soon as you put it in your mouth, a cube of Melty Kiss will melt immediately, giving you a burst of flavors. When Melty Kiss was first introduced, it was made available only in the winter months. Nowadays, you can find little boxes of Melty Kiss sold at Asian supermarkets with a wide range of flavors.

After Melty Kiss became a big hit in the sweet market, Royce’s has been actively making Nama chocolate from the 90s until now. As a semi-high-end confectionery company, Royce’s has a lot of different lines of products, but they are famous for their wide range of Nama chocolate. When they first started, Royce’s took orders from customers and delivered the chocolate to them. Today, as the company has become a giant in Nama chocolate, Royce’s has multiple locations around Japan as well as in other countries. Royce’s Nama chocolate comes in a lot of different flavors, including alcoholic flavors.

Nama Chocolate Makes the Perfect Gift

I still remember the first time I received a box of Nama chocolate as a gift from my cousin. He told me that this chocolate will steal my heart, and it sure did. My entire life, I have tried many different types of chocolate from affordable ones to more expensive selections, but I have never tasted something as delicious and wonderful as Nama chocolate. If you get a chance to visit Japan, you will see Nama chocolate shops at many different locations, especially the airports. Whether it is a planned or a last-minute gift, a box of Nama chocolate will definitely bring a smile to the person who eats it. If you want to try out Nama chocolate or to buy it as a gift, Royce’s website provides many different buying options.

A box of Royce’s Nama chocolate contains 20 pieces, and trust me, it is enough to satisfy a group of 4-5 people. Since the chocolate is so rich, I recommend that you take just a small bite at a time to enjoy it. If you are a chocolate lover and interested in Nama chocolate, go buy it now to share with your friends or family and put a smile on their faces.


Talking of dessert, one should never miss Kheer, an Indian traditional Sweet Rice Pudding. This dessert is very simple to make, and it has been around forever. In India, kheer is one dessert that almost everyone grew up eating on a regular basis. Though this dessert is simple, it is served on almost every special occasion such as festivals or celebrations. According to every Indian I have met, kheer is the dessert that reminds them of home.

What is Kheer?

Kheer or payasam is a traditional rice pudding made for a lot of different occasions in Indian families. The word kheer or payasam is often used interchangeably as both are derived from the Sanskrit terms for milk. Basically, kheer is basmati rice cooked in milk and sugar to perfection. Although it is that simple, Kheer has long been a part of the ancient Indian diet, and its origin is dated back to around the fourteenth century. Back then, kheer was just as popular a dessert as it is nowadays. Unlike many other popular desserts around the world that started as a fancy dish to serve the royalty, kheer started as a simple sweet treat for everyone. Back then, millets were used instead of basmati rice. It was a very common practice at the time to use millets to prepare different confections. In addition to rice/millets, sugar, and milk, other spices, such as cardamom and cinnamon have also been used to create the aromatic flavor in kheer.

The reason kheer has been widely adopted as a sweet dish around the country was because of its appearance as well as its ingredients. Kheer’s popularity was partly associated with its color and components. According to a religious belief, rice was known for life-sustaining qualities. Its color is white, which represents the symbol of purity and divinity. A lot of the time, kheer is served in many different religious rituals around the country. Another reason Indian people loved kheer is that its ingredients can be found anywhere. No matter where you live, it does not have to be India, you will always be able to find ingredients to make kheer. Since its main ingredients are rice, milk, and sugar, you can easily find them in any country. For its flavor, if you cannot find cardamom, which is rare since cardamom is a popular ingredient, you can substitute it with cinnamon, nutmeg, saffron, pistachios, or even almonds. Nowadays, kheer has a lot of variations thanks to the creativity of chefs around the world. Instead of using white rice, we can also use carrots or tapioca pearls to make kheer. 

Last but not least, another reason I find kheer to be very convenient is that it can be both vegetarian or vegan. In the traditional recipe, kheer is already a vegetarian dish. It only has rice, milk, sugar, and spices. However, nowadays as more and more people are following different diets, they can easily substitute the original ingredients with their ingredients of choice to make the perfect kheer to their taste. If you are vegan, full-fat milk or cream will not make your list, so you can just use nut milk, such as oat milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or even macadamia milk, instead. If you cannot eat sugar for whatever reason, dietary sweeteners such as truvia, equal, or sweet’n low will work just fine. 

I still remember the first time I had kheer and immediately fell in love with it. My co-worker brought kheer to our company’s party, and everyone loved it. She used truvia instead of sugar so people who had diabetes were still able to enjoy her homemade kheer. According to her, she missed her family in India, and the work-family was her second family, so she decided to bring this sweet treat to share with everyone.

Have you had kheer before? If not, try it some days. You can either order it from any Indian restaurant, or you can make it at home.

Gulab Jamun

Whether you have always been a fan of Indian food or are just now trying it out, this is a sweet dessert you must try at least once in your life. If you have already known of famous delicious Indian main dishes such as chicken tikka masala, garlic naan, or vegetable samosas, then you cannot miss this mouth-watering dessert, Gulab Jamun.

What is Gulab Jamun?

Gulab jamun is a beloved Indian dessert consisting of deep-fried milk balls soaked in aromatic syrup. According to some of my friends who came from India, this dessert is believed to be dated back to medieval India when it was invented as a delicacy to serve the emperor. Not surprisingly, it earned the emperor’s approval. The name Gulab Jamun also has a very interesting meaning. The word Gulab technically means floral-water, or in this case, rose-water because the syrup to soak these deep-fried balls into is infused with rose-water. The word Jamun translates to black plum. It is obvious because after deep-frying, the dough balls have a rounded shape and dark brown color. Nowadays, this dessert keeps winning a lot of hearts and minds of eaters from around the world. As long as there is an Indian restaurant, there is Gulab Jamun on the dessert menu.

What is Gulab Jamun Made Of?

In almost every Indian recipe, there are many different types of spices used. This gave each dish its unique flavor and appearance. The main ingredient in Gulab Jamun is milk-solid or milk powder, flour, and spices. Although there are a lot of different recipes teaching how to make Gulab Jamun, we can also buy premixed Gulab Jamun powder from Indian supermarkets. 

In the traditional way, the most important ingredient to prepare Gulab Jamun is milk-solid or khoya. Khoya is also known by other names such as khoa or mawa. Nowadays, in order to save time, most recipes recommend buying khoya from the store. If you want to make it at home, it would take around two hours or more since khoya is milk simmered on low heat until all of the water evaporates. Since khoya is nothing but milk-solid, we need to have something added to help the balls hold their shapes in the fryer. Thus, we can either use flour or semolina, which is a form of coarsely milled wheat, to mix with the milk-solid. The use of either flour or semolina also depends on each chef’s preference. If you want thicker and more chewy Gulab Jamun, you should choose flour to add to the milk solid. Since semolina has a relatively larger grain size, adding it into the milk-solid will make the Gulab Jamun more tender after deep-fried. To prevent the semolina from soaking up too much moisture out of the milk-solid, you can soak it in milk before adding it to the mixture. Other than the main ingredients, we also need to add milk or cream, and clarified butter into the mixture to create a paste then shaping them into little balls and deep-fry.

The next important part of Gulab Jamun is its syrup. To make good syrup, most recipes call for cardamom, saffron, cloves, and rose water. On medium-low heat, add sugar, water, and spices except for rose-water or you will risk burning off its aroma. Simmer for some time until the liquid thickens. Add a tiny amount of lemon juice before simmering to keep the sugary liquid from crystalizing. Once the syrup is done, let it cool down, add rose-water and the Gulab Jamun balls. Let them soak for at least four hours or overnight.

According to my friends, gulab jamun reminds them of sweet memories spent around their family. Since this dessert is super delicious, easy to make, and affordable, a lot of people choose gulab jamun to be their dessert of choice in family gatherings. 

If you have not already tried Gulab Jamun, be sure to order them the next time you visit an Indian restaurant.


What is baklava?

Baklava is a dessert made of multiple layers of phyllo-pastry, stuffed with a wide variety of crushed nuts, and soaked in honey or syrup. This delightful dessert is gaining popularity these days because it has won the hearts and minds of many sweet-toothed eaters around the world. What makes this dessert special is that it has a crunchy outside with a delicious nutty and aromatic stuffing inside. To reach this level of perfection, baklava had been through a very long history that no one could actually tell its origin.

The History of Baklava

Until this day, we have known baklava as a traditional Turkish dessert or sweet treat. However, when it comes to baklava’s origin, the debate never really ends. The history of baklava is quite controversial since the recipe has been adopted and developed by so many different nations within the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Each nation contributed some adjustments into this dessert that resulted in its delicious taste we know today. These nations have one unique thing in common, however; they were once part of the Ottoman Empire. This somehow explained the reason Turkey claimed baklava to be their national dessert.

Developments of Baklava’s Recipe

In the fifteenth century, after the Ottomans invaded Constantinople, baklava became a delicacy among the rich. There is a common expression in Turkey say “I am not rich enough to eat baklava every day”. The phyllo-pastry that makes baklava’s outside is believed to be a creation of the Greeks. In its original form, baklava’s outside was bread-like. After the Greeks took the recipe back to Athens, they created a technique to roll the doll as thin as a leaf. The word “phyllo” means leaf. 

Other than the Greek, many other nations contributed to the recipe of baklava. When the Armenian discovered baklava while trading on the Spice and Silk routes east of the Ottoman Empire, they added cinnamon and clove to the texture. Further east, the Arabs were known for their creation of aromatic essences. By the time they discovered baklava, they added rose-water and orange blossom water into the recipe. Instead of soaking the baklava in honey, they used rose-water or orange blossom water infused syrup. This gave the dessert a new and delightful taste.

After the Arabs, there came the Persians. Persia was famous for jasmine flowers, and they took advantage of one of their country’s greatest resources. As the Persians discovered baklava, they added jasmine essence into the stuffing which gave it a floral note when eating. The Persians also cut the baklava into diamond shape which made it look more appealing. Among the big improvements, there were also many different changes and variations to the recipe in many Middle East nations. For instance, the Afghans cut baklava into triangles and garnished with crushed pistachio. Azerbaijanis garnished baklava with almond or walnut. As their national delicacy, the Turkish chefs have mastered the art of baklava over the years. Baklava in Turkey are made in all shapes and sizes, and have many different stuffing options. Very commonly in a Turkish bakery, we can find a fresh patch of baklava soaked in floral syrup and topped with a thick, green dust of crushed pistachios.

If you have not tried baklava before, try it some days. Be aware, these tasty little bite-size treats are very addictive. Once you felt in love with them, you would want to have them everyday. If you ever visit the Reno area in Northern Nevada, stop by Aladdin’s Market & Kitchen for some fresh and delicious baklava.

Avocado for Dessert, Anyone?

Nowadays, the World loves avocados. Avocados are used in almost every healthy dish for they are often known as nutritious and clean. A cup (150 grams) of avocado contains at least 10 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, zero cholesterol, and much other healthy nutrition such as Vitamin A, C, and D, potassium, and magnesium. Most of the time, avocados are used as a topping for salad, sandwiches, and many other dishes. They can be smashed, sliced, cubed, or even pureed. While most people know avocados as a healthy and delicious topping, they may not know that avocados can be used to make dessert too.

Born and raised in Vietnam, after I came to the United States, it took me a while to adjust to the cultural differences. I still remember the first time my co-workers offered me some freshly sliced avocado slices to eat along with my sandwich. I was so surprised and thought they were either joking or misspoke and meant that the avocado slices were for me to eat after the sandwich. By the time I finished eating, I looked for sugar to put on the avocado, and my co-workers looked at me very weirdly. After I told them avocados are to be eaten as a dessert, they then explained to me that people here put avocados in main dishes instead of putting them in a dessert. 

Although I know that avocado is a healthy fruit, during my childhood, I have never seen a person who eats avocados in the main dish. To me, the avocados have a mushy texture and they taste unappealingly bland. I guess this was the reason why I always see my parents and other people put condensed milk or sugar on avocado before smashing them to serve as dessert. 

Avocado Dessert in Vietnam

In Vietnam, there are a lot of avocados being grown in the highlands. Since they are such a commodity, they are available year-round. However, the best time to enjoy avocado dessert in Vietnam is during summer, and this is not because of the fruit’s quality. The reason the Vietnamese people eat avocado dessert during summer is that this dessert is usually served on the street or in restaurants to combat the steamy summer weather.

Avocado dessert in Vietnam has two forms, mashed or smoothie. The reason people make this dessert into two different forms is that some people like to drink it instead of eating it. In the mashed version of the avocado dessert, the avocado pulps are scoped out and roughly mashed. Since this was meant to be eaten, we don’t mash the avocado too much to reserve the chunky texture. There will be either sugar or condensed milk added depending on the customer’s preference. The last step is to add ice. The ice can be crushed or cubed.

In the smoothie version, the preparing process is the same as the mashed version, however, the combination of avocado, condensed milk, and ice will be blended into a smoothie. Usually, the smoothie version contains less ice since we don’t want the dessert to be too icy. To make this dessert a little bit fancier, some vendors add durian pulps into it. Eating or drinking avocado dessert on a hot summer day is the best thing ever. This dessert can also be made in a large patch to share with family and friends. Since avocado is a healthy fruit, this dessert will be a perfect choice in gatherings especially when you have friends who are on a strict diet. 

Have you had an avocado dessert before? If you have not, you can grab a ripe avocado, mash it up, add some sweetener of your choice, add some ice, mix them all up, and enjoy.

Fried Sesame Balls


The history of fried sesame balls is dated back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) in Imperial China. By the time, this simple yet delightful dessert was regarded as an imperial food served in the palace to the royalty in Chang’an, China. As time went by, fried sesame balls gradually became popular in other regions of China and became a must-try in Southern Chinese cuisine. In the modern-day, fried sesame balls are available in almost every Chinese restaurant and bakery. Since creativity has no limits, there are a lot of bakeries, especially here in the United States, make super-sized sesame balls to attract customers.

As the recipe traveled to the South, it did not stop there but instead continued to travel to other neighboring countries located in the south of China such as Hong Kong (Hong Kong used to be a British colony), Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Of these many countries, Vietnam is closest to China, and Vietnamese cuisine is heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine. Thus, fried sesame balls became widely adopted in Vietnam, and variations are created throughout different regions of the country.

Chinese Version

The Chinese name of this fried sesame balls dessert is Jian Dui. The sesame balls are made of glutinous rice flour, stuffed with a variety of sweet fillings, and deep-fried to perfection. Hence the name sesame balls, the outside of these glutinous balls are coated with sesame seeds before deep frying. Once the frying process is completed, the glutinous balls will have a crispy exterior and a chewy interior. For the filling in the original version, there are two main choices, red bean paste or lotus seed paste. Both are sweet paste and can be used interchangeably. Other than lotus paste and red bean paste, you can also find black sesame paste and taro paste stuffed in fried sesame balls in many different bakeries.

This dessert is best served with a freshly brewed pot of green tea during family gatherings. The point of this dessert is to be enjoyed on special occasions, like Chinese New Year, birthdays, along with other family members while having meaningful conversations in a warm and relaxing environment. The round shape and golden color of the sesame balls represent good luck. When fried, the sesame balls expand which represents expanding fortune.

Vietnamese Version

Although they both look the same, in Vietnam, the fried sesame balls have different names as well as different ingredients between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. In the north, fried sesame balls are called “Bánh rán” which means fried cake. In the south, the fried sesame balls are called “Bánh cam” which can be roughly translated as orange cake. The Vietnamese people often name their food after its color, so when the sesame balls are fried, their color range between yellow and orange, hence the color orange was chosen to name the dessert. In Vietnam, the word “bánh” is commonly used to describe any food that is made from flour, so no matter it is a main dish or a dessert, as long as it is made from flour, it is called bánh. In the north Vietnamese version, fried sesame balls can be made without a filling or with a savory filling. In the south Vietnamese version, the sesame balls are often coated with a layer of shiny and sugary drizzle. This is also my favorite version of fried sesame balls.

Photo by Vicky Pham on Vietnamese Home Cooking Recipes

Chinese Sesame Balls vs. Vietnamese Sesame Balls

Between the Chinese version and the Vietnamese version of fried sesame balls, the main difference is the filling. In Vietnam, instead of using red bean paste or lotus seed paste, we use prepared mung beans. Before making the dessert, we soak mung beans, cook them, smash them, and roll them into quail-egg-sized balls to later stuff inside the glutinous shells. In the Chinese version, water is often added to the filling to make them softer. In the Vietnamese version, the prepared mung beans paste is much dryer. Once the sesame balls are fried and expanded, if we shake the sesame ball, we can hear the sound of the filling jumping around on the inside. 

Despite the differences, fried sesame balls have the same purpose in both Chinese and Vietnamese culture, that is, a sweet treat the family can share. Just like in China, Vietnamese people often buy fried sesame balls and bring them to family reunion occasions. Though this dessert is simple, it always brings back good memories of my family and my childhood. If you have not tried it yet, whenever you get a chance, head to the nearest Chinese bakery or restaurant and order some of these little tasty sesame balls to share with your friends and family. 

Pasteis de Nata – A Dessert That Travels The World

A Brief History…

Four centuries ago, the Portuguese set foot on Macau and put the region under their rule. Portugal’s colonization of Macau shaped a unique East-meet-West culture for the city, resulting in the two cultures exchanging and adapting each other’s lifestyles and cuisines. Inspired by the original Portuguese egg tart, also known as Portuguese custard tart or Pasteis de Nata, Macau egg tart has been widely enjoyed by families not only in the region but also in other neighboring countries. The original Pasteis de Nata was believed to be invented by Catholic monks in Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. Not only were these little lovely custard tarts delicious, but they also have a very interesting history. Due to a shortage of laundry detergent, nuns and monks at the time had to use egg whites to starch clothes, resulting in a lot of egg yolks going spare. To avoid wasting the yolks, monks at Jerónimos Monastery used them to create a secret recipe to make these simple yet flavorful tarts. By the time the monks sold these custard tarts to make extra income to support the monastery, Pasteis de Nata was widely enjoyed by the people. 

Though each tart is small, it packs a sugary punch; that is why Pasteis de Nata is best enjoyed with a cup of cappuccino or espresso as soon as they come out of the oven. The combination of sweet and bitter make the Portuguese custard tarts and coffee a perfect companion. A tip from the locals, use a dessert spoon to scoop out the eggy filling and enjoy while it is still warm. Since the outside of this custard tart is made from a light, flaky pastry, it will get soggy quickly if not enjoyed within a day or so.

Portuguese Egg Tarts by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Macau Egg Tart vs. Pasteis de Nata

Since the Portugueses brought the recipe to Macau, the people of Macau adopted the recipe and added some modifications to adjust to the locals’ taste. In the original recipe of Pasteis de Nata, the puff pastry has a buttery taste while in the Macanese recipe, the puff pastry has a more subtle sweet taste. This is because the Macanese recipe calls for a small amount of sugar added to the puff pastry dough. Another difference between these two recipes is the number of eggs used in each recipe. In the Portuguese custard tart version, the recipe often calls for fewer eggs than in the Macanese egg tart version. I guess that is partly the reason why the Portuguese version is named custard tart instead of egg tart. 

The last noticeable difference between these two recipes is the garnishing or topping. In the original version of Pasteis de Nata, the freshly baked tarts are often garnished with cinnamon or powdered sugar while in the Macau version, the egg tarts are not garnished. The toppings add a slightly different flavor to the tarts. For some people, especially those who are hypersensitive to smells, the cinnamon helps eliminate the eggy taste. For cinnamon lovers, there is no such thing as too much cinnamon. According to some people, both the cinnamon and the powdered sugar garnishing simply make the egg tarts look more appealing. It is also a good idea, especially in today’s social media era, to garnish your dishes beautifully so they look more Instagramable. 

I hope you enjoy this post. If you haven’t already, try an egg tart some days. Though authentic Portuguese egg tarts are harder to find, Asian variations of Portuguese egg tarts are available in almost every Asian bakery.