One of the most traditional and original Algarve sweets must be the little marzipan shapes. Filled with sweet egg cream, they come in all sorts of shapes and bright colours. Handmade with loving care and a great deal of creativity, they are replicas of all sorts of fruit, animals and other foods.
Another of the region’s most popular traditional sweets is the morgadinho. Made of almond paste filled with sweet Malabar gourd threads, it is shaped like a dome and is covered in white fondant with a silver sugar ball on the top.
Mysteriously wrapped up in brightly-coloured foil, dom rodrigos are a truly tempting creation of sweet egg threads and sweet egg cream flavoured with cinnamon.
The little “cheeses”, contrary to what you would expect from the name, are typical little cakes from the Algarve. They are shaped like little round cheeses and are a delicious alternative to the almond shapes. They have the same marzipan on the outside and sweet egg cream on the inside, but instead of being decorated in bright colours they are sprinkled with a very fine, subtle coating of sugar, which gives them their characteristic whiteness.
The cheeses also lend their name to a creation made with another of the stars of Algarve confectionery: figs. And the fig and almond cakes are no less appealing. Stuffed, or filled if you prefer, with almonds and chocolate, or dried, flattened and toasted in the oven, figs occupy a prime spot in the window display of any pastry or confectionery shop worthy of the name.
A good substitute for chocolate, from which it seems to have borrowed both colour and sweetness, carob is the third in the trio of the most-often used and delightful ingredients in Algarve confectionery. Carob roll, made with carob flour, is just one of the recipes it is used in.
And the Algarve also has plenty of tempting convent-inspired sweets that you eat with a spoon. Expect to find them difficult to resist.