This is one of the best known Portuguese sweets. First made over five centuries ago by nuns in the local convent. Ovos moles de Aveiro initially helped nuns prevent waste as eggs whites were already used for starching habits and filtering wine. With large quantities of sugarcane arriving from plantations on the island of Madeira, the king offered the nuns sugar. It soon became popular in recipes – the perfect ingredient to preserve egg yolks and allow nuns to take their baking to a new level.
Ovos moles were the first sweets in Portugal to be awarded Protected Geographical Indication from the European Union. This certification guarantees the quality of the artisanal delicacy and helps to further protect the recipes, methods and ingredients that have existed for generations.
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An acquired taste as the richness of the ovos moles may need a little getting used to. You can try them in any central Aveiro pastelaria such as Confeitaria Peixinho, which opened in 1856. In Aveiro they are sold in little wooden barrels to be eaten by the spoonful or as a filling from white shell-like cases ( made commercially and sold all over the country). They are also used for all kinds of confectionary: as a topping and/or filling. Oficina do Doce offers a deeper immersion into the history of ovos moles with their sweet workshops. Visitors can also get to observe the skill and patience needed to fill the moulds.
Ovos moles are easy to make although expensive due to the use of many egg yolks. You can be stretch the filling by adding rice flour or mashed boiled rice. Variations like this are fine to use as fillings, but the basic recipe is much richer when intended to be eaten by the spoonful.
Ovos Moles Recipe
9oz (250g) granulated sugar ¼ pint (150ml) water
8 egg yolks
Bring the water and sugar to the boil over a low flame, until it reaches the pearl stage. Allow to cool a little and mix with beaten egg yolks, dropping the sugar syrup over them slowly and beating vigorously all the time. Bring to a gentle boil again, stirring, until it resembles a thick custard. Divide the sweet between small glass serving bowls or pour into a larger bowl.
This recipe was taken from The Taste of Portugal by Edite Vieira
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