Although I'm still kicking myself for not joining my boyfriend on his recent stay in Sintra, Portugal, I have been happily enjoying the culinary souvenirs he brought home. Among them were these local specialties called queijadas de Sintra, or Sintra cheesecakes. The ingredients are simple – sugar, cheese, flour, egg, and cinnamon – but their effect is intoxicating, and I've found myself craving more of these little cakes ever since I polished off the last one. To an American audience, the term "cheesecakes" can be a bit misleading, as these are more more like custard-y tarts wrapped in pastry. Made with fresh cheese, they have a pronounced cinnamon flavor that reflects Portugal's Moorish past. The recipe, which reportedly dates back to the 13th or 14th century, is a closely-guarded secret. However, I have found a few approximations online and am eager to give them a try.
Emily Ho is a writer, recipe developer, and educator. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes on food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. Emily is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and the international Food Swap Network.
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