Shutterstock / Natalia Mylova
Should you ever find yourself in the colorful city of Lisbon, Portugal, there’s only one sweet treat you ought to try. Along nearly every street, the capital boasts hordes of pastry shops selling the traditional mini custard pastry, pastel de nata. Indeed, the quintessentially Portuguese pastel de nata is a flavor sensation not to be missed.
Fancy experiencing more new flavors? Then try some of these amazing international comfort foods.
What are pasteis de nata?
There’s so much to adore about pasteis de nata. Though they’re an egg custard, pasteis de nata are actually surprisingly light. The tart consists of fresh, flaky pastry and an addictive, sweet egg yolk filling. While you can, of course, enjoy these tarts fresh out of a hot oven, some people prefer to add a little cinnamon or sugar to the top before taking their first bite.
Love cinnamon? Check out some more ways to bake with cinnamon, here.
What makes them so special to Lisbon?
The pastel de nata is by no means a new addition to pastry store windows. The original recipe for this delicate egg custard pastry dates back a whopping 300 years. The very first natas were created by monks at the Jerónimos Monastery in the civil parish of Belém, Lisbon.
At the time, the holy men and women who resided there were resourceful and would use egg whites to wash and starch their clothes. Not wanting the leftover egg yolks to go to waste, the monks used them as a central part of the desserts they made, including pasteis de nata.
When the monastery began to struggle financially, the monks began to sell pasteis de nata so that they could raise money. Despite their best efforts, the place closed in 1834 and the secret recipe was sold to local bakers. A few years later, the bakers who bought the recipe opened the now renowned Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém.
The historic Belém bakery is still open and is now a popular spot for locals and tourists, alike. If you want to get your hands on an original recipe pasteis de nata, prepare yourself for a bit of a wait as lines grown long in high tourism seasons. No matter the time of year, patrons queue patiently outside the store to get their hands on this simple pastry.
Regardless of whether you have a sweet-tooth or not, sampling one of Portugal’s most well-known (and well-loved!) desserts is an experience unto itself.
If you're craving a French baguette, bake these.
My kids love to help me make this delicious bread recipe. It's quite easy, and they enjoy the fact that they can be eating fresh bread in less than two hours! —Denise Boutin, Grand Isle, Vermont
If you're craving Austrian linzer kekse (linzer cookies), bake these.
These wonderful cookies require a bit of extra effort to make and assemble, but the delight on the faces of family and friends when I serve them makes it all worthwhile. —Schelby Thompson, Camden Wyoming, Delaware
If you're craving a kiwi tart from New Zealand, bake this.
It takes a little time to make, but this tart is absolutely marvelous, especially in summer when fresh fruit is in abundance. —Claire Darby, New Castle, Delaware
If you're craving a Dutch appeltaart (apple tart), bake this.
You can't beat my mom's yummy apple pie. Pretty as a picture, the golden crust is flaky and the filling has just the right amount of spices. —Anne Halfhill, Sunbury, Ohio
If you're craving Irish soda bread, bake this.
My best friend Rita shared this irresistible Irish soda bread recipe. It bakes up high, with a golden brown top and a combination of sweet and savory flavors. —Jan Alfano, Prescott, Arizona
If you're craving a South African melktert (milk tart), bake this.
I absolutely love sugar cream pie; especially the one that my grandma made for me. Here in Indiana, we serve it warm or chilled. —Laura Kipper, Westfield, Indiana
If you're craving mbatata (sweet potato cookies) from Malawi, bake these.
Sweet potatoes, nuts, coconut and spices are creatively combined in a one-of-a-kind cookie that always brings rave reviews. —Ruth Shaffer, Elizabethville, Pennsylvania
If you're craving a dulce de leche dessert from Paraguay, bake this.
I'm originally from Paraguay, and dulce de leche reminds me of where I came from. If you can't find it at your grocery store, try caramel ice cream topping instead. It tastes different, but this decadent dessert will still be amazing. —Sonia Lipham, Ranburne, Alabama
If you're craving Italian biscotti, bake these.
Chocolate, pistachios and cranberries are great together. Adding the cranberries to this recipe made it not only sweeter, but more nutritious, too. —Gilda Lester, Millsboro, Delaware
If you're craving Greek pastry, try this pie.
I love Greek pastry, so I thought, 'Why not use phyllo, honey and nuts to make a pie? Then you can have a bigger piece!' —Rosalind Jackson, Stuart, Florida
If you're craving Filipino bibingka (coconut cake), bake these.
My coconut bars are an American version of Filipino coconut cake. These are a crispier, sweeter take on the Christmas tradition I grew up liking. —Denise Nyland, Panama City, Florida
If you're craving Polish bagels, bake these.
Who has time to make from-scratch bagels? You do with this easy recipe from our Test Kitchen staff. The chewy golden bagels offer a hint of honey and are sure to impress the pickiest of palates. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
If you're craving Portuguese pasteis de nata, make this.
Mother made this comforting custard when I was growing up on the farm. It was wonderful after a chilly evening of doing chores. Now I fix it for my husband and four sons. —Mary Kay Morris, Cokato, Minnesota
Want to feel hygge (roughly, 'cozy')? Try this warming recipe for danish.
Though this recipe takes a bit of time to make, it's completely worth it. The braids are a special breakfast treat on occasions like Easter or a family birthday. People will take seconds and thirds! —Debbie Ewald, Oak Grove, Missouri
If you're craving Turkish baklava, bake this.
It may take some time to make this rich, buttery treat, but it's well worth the effort! The blend of coconut, pecans and macadamia nuts is irresistible. —Kari Kelley, Plains, Montana
If you're craving a Japanese pear tart, bake this.
My sister-in-law brought this pretty pastry to dinner one night, and we all went back for seconds. It is truly scrumptious. —Kathryn Rogers, Suisun City, California
If you're craving Jamaican rum cake, bake this.
My recipe makes two loaf-size treats, perfect for sharing. The spiced rum flavor in both the cake and the glaze really comes through. —Christine Russell, Littleton, New Hampshire
If you're craving German zwetschgenkuchen (plum cake), bake this.
In late summer when plums are in season, this tender fruit-topped cake is delectable! The plum slices look so appealing arranged in circles on top. For variety, I sometimes substitute fresh pear or apple slices instead. —Anna Daley, Montague, Prince Edward Island
If you're craving Czech rye bread, bake this.
My parents were emigrants from Czechoslovakia and my mother would bake this bread when guests came over for dinner. Today, every time I bake it, I get nostalgic for those days. —Millie Feather, Baroda, Michigan
If you're craving an English fruit crumble, bake this.
When I met my English husband and served him just the crumble, he said it was fantastic but really needed a custard sauce over it. We found a terrific sauce recipe from England, and now the pair is perfect together. I wouldn't eat it any other way. —Amy Freeman, Cave Creek, Arizona
If you're craving Canadian butter tarts, bake these.
I searched for the perfect butter tart for ages. After many attempts, I discovered this favorite that begs for a scoop of ice cream on top. —Susan Kieboam, Streetsboro, Ohio
If you're craving Mexican pastel de tres leches (tres leches cake), bake this.
Tres leches means 'three milks.' This cake gets its name because it uses three kinds of milk—evaporated, condensed and cream. This cake's light and airy texture has made it a classic in Mexican kitchens for generations. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
If you're craving a pavlova from Australia, bake these.
It's hard to decide whether it's the presentation or taste that makes this pretty dessert tops. Fresh berries rest on a pillow of homemade meringue for a finale that sums up why we love summer in one delicious bite. —Charlene Chambers, Ormond Beach, Florida
If you're craving Cuban natilla (cinnamon custard), bake this.
After tasting natilla for the first time at a Cuban restaurant in Key West, I knew I had to turn that traditional custard into a pie. For a festive garnish, add curls of orange peel. —Amy Freeze, Avon Park, Florida
If you're craving sticky toffee pudding from Scotland, bake this.
The classic Sticky Toffee Pudding is a traditional dessert in the United Kingdom. I love that I can just stay home and bake this cake version, featuring saucy butterscotch. —Agnes Ward, Stratford, Ontario
If you're craving Swedish vetebrod (cardamom bread), bake this.
This golden bread has a soft, tender texture and the perfect amount of cardamom flavor in every bite. Slices are especially good with a cream cheese spread or fresh honey butter. —Carla Miller, Pasco, Washington
If you're craving Chinese almond cookies, bake these.
Think outside the box this season and enjoy these traditional Chinese cookies, each one topped with an almond slice. —Shirley Warren, Thiensville, Wisconsin
If you're craving Samoan paifala (pineapple hand pies), bake this.
You'll find pineapples and coconut everywhere in the South Pacific, so we play them up in this creamy cool pineapple pie, dolloped with coconut cream. Divine! —Karen Naihe, Kamuela, Hawaii
If you're craving Russian tea cakes, bake these.
My great aunt Commie's Russian tea cakes, along with pine nuts and amaretto, inspired this recipe. —Christianna Gozzi, Astoria, New York
If you're craving Spanish flan, bake this.
If you're unfamiliar with flan, think of it as a tasty variation on custard. One warning, though—it's very filling. A small slice of flan goes a long way! —Pat Forete, Miami, Florida