I was trying to go through the holidays without overdoing with desserts and I think we did it! Usually, back in Portugal, Christmas is the season to gather around the table with family and friends and share the love and joy through food. This usually means a huge and delicious meal followed by an assorted variety of desserts like bolo-rei, arroz-doce, filhos, sonhos, broas de mel (traditional honey cakes). There's a lot of sugar, eggs and frying involved in all of these and that usually shows on the scale at the end of December!
As we've moved to the US I've tried to downsize on the desserts and it has been fairly easy because it's just the four of us and it becomes manageable. Last year my mother-in-law was here and we baked some more treats but not this year!
This year I remembered about this particularity dessert that my mother used to cook around the holidays. All of us loved it and whenever my mother would decide to make a bowl of it, it would sure be over by the end of the day! It's fluffy, sweet and amazingly simple to cook. I used the recipe that I got from a Portuguese recipe book for children. I love cooking and teaching my kids how to do it - I had this book ordered and my mother-in-law was kind enough to offer it to my son! He's also in the cooking spirit so he was happy to help me out preparing this delicious dessert.
The funny thing is that this book, called "A minha primeira cozinha traditional Portuguesa" (something like "My first traditional Portuguese cuisine book") was written by one of the most famous Portuguese female cooks alongside with her granddaughter which is really proof that traditions get carried on if we make it happen and teach our kids what we have also been thought by our mothers and grandmothers.
I do apologize but I'm writing down the measurements in the original units but feel free to convert them to the usual ones!
1 - Get all the ingredients measured. Separate the egg whites and reserve the yolks in a bowl.
2 - On the mixer, beat the egg whites until they form soft peeks. Add 50 g of sugar and continue beating the egg whites until they form stiff and dry peeks.
3 - Heat the milk on a pan with the remaining sugar and the lemon rind. When it starts to boil reduce the heat to maintain a soft boil.
4 - With a serving spoon insert portions of the fluffy egg whites in the milk, to boil them. Cook them for 1 minute and turn them over.
5 - Remove the cooked egg whites with a ladle and put them on a mesh strainer to collect the milk that runs through the egg whites. After straining them collect all the cooked egg whites on a deep serving bowl.
6 - Gather all the milk that as been strained and return it to the pan. Turn off the heat and let the milk cool for a while. Dissolve the corn starch on a bit of milk with the egg yolks and the, whenn the milk has cooled down, add it to the pan and give it a stir.
7 - Turn the heat back on and cook the custard until it has become creamy and luscious. Keep mixing the custard at all times. Taste it to figure out if you need to add more sugar.
8 - Pour the hot custard over the fluffy egg whites and let it cool down for a while. Pour some ground cinnamon over the custard - in our family the kids don't like it so much, so I decided to sprinkle cinnamon in just one half of the dessert.
The custard is so creamy and delicious that I had to try a spoon just by itself! It really reminded me of the flavors of my childhood and, once again, proved to me the power of cooking, traditions and family.
I'm writing this post after the dessert is all finished and, I must say, it didn't last that long! My husband made sure of that! I guess I'll have to cook another batch in a couple of weeks.
I'd love to have someone try the recipe and tell me all about it.
Will you try it out?!