There is a wealth of monastery-style desserts, with hundreds of recipes with centuries of history. And, in Portugal, some of the delicacies can have a different name from region to region. Some people call them Papos de Anjo (Angels’ Chins) (they can also be made with the dough from moist sponge cake) or Barrigas de Freira. (Nun’s bellies). Conventual history has it that desserts – that did not hold back in the use of eggs and sugar – were one way of, very often, making use of egg yolks which were delicate… like angels.

“Barrigas de freira” (alluding to the plumpness of the nuns, considered a sign of beauty… who used to eat lots of sweet things in secret) come in a half-moon shape, made with wafer, the same as that used for the communion wafer, and filled with sugared eggs. A real delight!


300g sugar 2 wafer slices

1.5dl water 1 egg white

15 egg yolks Powdered sugar


1 – Make a syrup with the water and the sugar until you reach the firm ball stage

2 – Lightly beat the egg yolks

3 – Pour the syrup into the beaten egg yolks and put it on a medium heat

4 – Stir constantly until it thickens

5 – Prepare the wafer slices and cut them into squares (about 10x10cm)

6 – Let the filling cool a little and place a small spoonful in the centre of the cut wafer

7 – Beat the egg white lightly

8 – With a brush, or even with your finger, dip it into the egg white and brush the edges of the wafer and close them so that they stick together

9 – This makes a rectangle and so if you want you can cut the ends off to get a half-moon shape

10 – Place them on a plate and dust them with powdered sugar. If you want, you can brush them with egg white to have more sugar on the outside. Let them dry before eating.