Guarding Portugal’s Culinary National Treasure – Top Secret Tarts

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Guarded behind lock and key in the back of a small pastry factory in Belém, Portugal, sits a 180-year-old secret. Currently, only six people know the recipe for “Pastéis de Belém,” among the oldest—and perhaps even the original—egg custard tarts.

Your delicious mission (should you choose to accept it) is to meet the guardians behind this highly classified tart and someday taste one or two along the way.

The secret recipe for pastéis de nata originated in the massive stone Jerónimos Monastery. It was an important monastery during the Portuguese age of discovery, when the monks prayed for sailors.

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“The recipe is not only emotional. It’s also a part of us,” he observes. “It’s part of this company’s identity. So of course if somebody else were to come here and say ‘I know the recipe’ I would be like, ‘Oh no, OK, we have to hire you or put you in a basement or something.’”

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