|Sweet things often come in small packages. So it goes with Portuguese desserts. Small, but tasty goodies like trutas (sweet potato pastries) or bolos de folha (a type of rolled pastry) may not be overly large or dramatic like American-style cakes and pies, but they do pack a wallop. High in calories and incredibly rich, these treats have been satisfying the Portuguese craving for a little something sweet after a good, hearty meal for generations.
|Sweets | Doces
Rolled Cookies | Rocks | Sweet Potato Pastries | Egg Cookies | Sighs | Mariana's Tea Biscuits | Sherried Cookies | Egg Cake | Russian Tea Cakes | Andrew's Fudgies | Molasses Cookies | Brigadiers | Torta de Viana | Honey Bread | Crème Caramel à la Portugaise | Port Flan | Maria's Portuguese Sweet Rice Pudding | Del's Sweet Rice Pudding | Brazilian Fresh Corn Pudding | Almond Tart | Joyce's Choice Cheesecake | Milk Sweet
Growing up in Provincetown, I never had a meal in either my own home or that of friends that didn't end with some kind of dessert. Mostly the desserts we were served were American puddings, cakes and pies. Fruit was rarely served, unless it was a cobbler or shortcake. Anything remotely low calorie or healthy, like a piece of fruit, was never considered a proper dessert. The Portuguese of Provincetown love their sweets.
Like most men of his generation, my father, Justin Avellar, expected dessert after both lunch and dinner. He got them, too. Even though my mother is Irish and didn't prepare any Portuguese sweets, she always made desserts for him, and from scratch. Her friends thought she was crazy not to buy convenience foods. A traditional woman, my mother believed that when providing for her family nothing but the freshest of ingredients would do. Canned vegetables and store-bought pastries rarely appeared in our house.
I grew up hearing stories about how my grandmother, Angelina, she of the famous sweet tooth and flaky pastry crust, had to hide boxes of chocolates, a rarity in any Portuguese household nearly a century ago, from her children - especially my father. Try as she might, the chocolates would usually be found and surreptitiously eaten with the box returned to its hiding place. On the day company arrived, my grandmother would go to her stash, only to discover the box of chocolates was empty. For some reason she never believed it was my father who had eaten her candy. She always blamed one of her other seven sons.
Traditional Portuguese desserts are heavy on sugar, loaded with egg yolks, fried and even prepared with lard. Because they are very time consuming, some of the recipes like bolos de folha and trutas are only made for the Christmas holidays. Since these pastries only appear once a year, even the most diet conscious should be able to sneak one or two. They are delicious.