Many of the country's typical pastries were created in Middle Ages monasteries. Other pastries were created by nuns in the 18th century, which they sold as a means of supplementing their incomes. Many of their creations, often with a high content of eggs and sugar in the composition, have related names like barriga de freira (nun's belly), papos de anjo (angel's chests), and toucinho do céu (bacon from heaven).
The Portuguese enjoy rich egg-based desserts. These are often seasoned with spices such as cinnamon and vanilla.
Perhaps most popular is leite-creme (a set egg custard). Also popular is arroz doce (a typical and popular rice pudding, a must for Christmas time parties), although aletria (a similar dish this time based upon a kind of vermicelli), is common. These are often decorated with elaborate stenciled patterns of cinnamon powder.
Other custards include pudim flã. Cakes and pastries are also very popular. Most towns have a local specialty, usually egg or cream based pastry. Originally from Lisbon, but popular nationwide, as well as among the diaspora, are pastéis de nata. These are small, extremely rich custard tarts.
Other very popular pastries found in cafes, bakeries and pastry shops across the entire territory, include the bola de Berlim and the pão-de-ló.
In the south specially in the Algarve region, many recipes include almonds and marzipan. Many traditional recipes also include candied squash, known as "doce de chila/gila" and candied egg threads called "fios de ovos," used as a filling or a decoration. It is common belief that the medieval nuns used vast quantities of egg whites to stiffen their habits, and developed endless dessert recipes to use all the surplus yolks.