It has been a beloved treat since its invention in 1837 by monks at the Monastery of Jerónimos in Belém. The tart is made with a light and flaky puff pastry crust filled with creamy egg custard that’s flavored with cinnamon and lemon zest.
The history behind this delicious dessert dates back to the 16th century when Portuguese explorers arrived in India and brought back spices like nutmeg, cloves, pepper, ginger, and cardamom which were used to flavor their food. In 1837, monks at the Monastery of Jerónimos started experimenting with these spices and created what we now know as Belém Custard Tart.
The recipe for Belém Custard Tart was kept secret until it was finally revealed to bakers outside the monastery walls in 1855. Since then, it has become an integral part of Lisbon’s culture and cuisine; so much so that many bakeries around town specialize only in pastel de nata (as it’s locally known).
To make sure you get an authentic experience when trying this traditional dessert, head over to Pastéis de Belém, where locals have been enjoying them since 1837. Here you can watch as bakers prepare thousands upon thousands of tarts each day using fresh ingredients according to the original recipe that has been passed down through generations. The shop also offers other delicious treats such as coconut cookies or almond cake if you’re looking for something different but equally delicious.
No trip to Lisbon would be complete without sampling some authentic Belém Custard Tarts – they are simply too good not try.