I am not a lover of sweets, in fact most of the time I dislike them, which is quite a handy thing for my figure.
Still, sometimes, nostalgia takes over. I remember my great aunt’s fresh coconut layer cake, with the layers stacked high like a cathedral, and how the white coconut reminded me of angel’s wings. I remember moist chocolate layer cakes from childhood birthday parties. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, popular when I was in college. As a little girl, how pretty the name “red velvet cake” sounded. Gingerbread with hot butterscotch sauce on a cold winter’s day, made by my best friend’s mother on Saturday afternoons.
by Mónica Pinto
It all started centuries ago in the Portuguese convents. The nuns used to starch the habits with egg whites and, consequently, they ended up with huge quantities of egg yolks, so they started making a variety of rich and delicious sweets, mostly using egg yolks and sugar, in fact lots of both. Sometimes they would add almonds and a small list of other ingredients, but the egg yolks and sugar were always the main ingredients of the Portuguese convent sweets.
Papos de anjo, in English, would be something like, “angels’ stomachs” or “angels’ bellies”, and they are one of the most traditional of Portuguese sweets. They start as sugar-free, fluffy little egg cakes, round and smooth, just like the nuns imagined an angel’s belly, but then they are covered with a very sweet and aromatic syrup that makes them a melt-in-the-mouth treat, a delicacy for people with a very sweet tooth.
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6 egg yolks
1 egg white
300 g caster sugar
3 dl water
1 orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
- Butter 8 to 10 mini muffin tins (depends on the size). Preheat the oven to 180º, gas mark 4.
- Beat the egg yolks until fluffy and thick (3 to 5 minutes).
- Beat the egg white until it forms firm peaks and fold it gently into the yolk mixture.
- Fill the tins almost to the top with this smooth, velvety batter, then bake for 10 minutes.
- When they’re browned, remove small egg cakes from the tins while they’re still warm.
- In a saucepan add sugar, water, orange peel and cinnamon stick.
- Bring to the boil and let bubble away for exactly 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and pour the hot and aromatic syrup over the papos de anjo.
Serve at room temperature.
I’m a food photographer and stylist with an Art & Design degree. I live in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal, near the sea with my husband, my two boys and my dog. I love home cooking from around the world and have a very special interest in traditional Portuguese cuisine. I love to cook with fresh herbs, edible flowers and fresh vegetables. Some I grow organically in my kitchen garden. Others I buy from local farmers markets. I’m the author of Pratos e Travessas a blog about cooking, food photography and food chronicles.