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What Is Ovos Moles?

Ovos Moles, a Portuguese delicacy, is a symphony of sweet, creamy egg yolks encased in a delicate wafer. Originating from Aveiro, this traditional confection marries simplicity with indulgence, offering a taste of Portugal's rich culinary heritage. Intrigued by how such simple ingredients transform into an exquisite treat? Discover the art behind Ovos Moles and let your palate explore further.
Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins

Tourists who venture to the Pacific coastal city of Aveiro, in northwestern Portugal, will encounter a range of distinctive desserts, including a few unique to the area made almost entirely of eggs, or ovos — a staple of many South American desserts. The dish ovos moles, or oros moles de Aveiro, means they are the "soft eggs of Aveiro." In keeping with the name, these dessert treats not only resemble an egg in color and shape, but they are made almost entirely of egg yolks, sweetened with sugary syrup and a white coating of communion wafer.

The ingredients needed for a batch of ovos moles is short — egg yolk and sugar syrup, along with any added accoutrement like cinnamon or vanilla. It is the process of making them that can be complicated. Originating from a centuries-old treat made by an Aveiro convent, the dessert has long been adored by royals and roustabouts alike for its simple way of making a savory treat sweet.

To create ovos moles, the egg yolk must be separated from the white.
To create ovos moles, the egg yolk must be separated from the white.

Two simultaneous actions must take place to begin creating ovos moles. Egg yolks must be separated from the whites, either by hand or with a separating device. Then, the eggs are beaten to a froth. Meanwhile, a sugar syrup is being made with just sugar and water, cooked over moderate heat to a thin largely un-caramelized paste. For a batch with eight egg yolks, chefs will use 0.33 cup (or 79 ml) of water and 1.25 cups (or 296 ml) of sugar.

After the syrup has fully cooled, it is vigorously beat into the egg yolks and cooked up in molds or shallow pans at about 230°F (or 110°C). Once firm, the ovos moles are set out or refrigerated to cool. Final preparations may involve pressing or molding the sugary egg matter in a whitish wafer-like packaging or even leftover egg whites, to resemble the egg's other components.

Added touches of flavor are occasionally incorporated into ovos moles to lend the final product a distinctive twist. Some of these additions include citrus zest or cocoa powder. The options are myriad. The material is not always used in egg form, though. Often it is laid as a sheet between communion wafers. Other times, bakers use it as a rich, protein-laden frosting for a cake. No matter the method, it may take several attempts before a proper combination of egg and sugar can be found.

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Discussion Comments

ZipLine

There is a funny story about how ovos moles came to be. Apparently, a nun at the Convent of Jesus was fasting but broke her fast and cooked egg yolks and sugar for a sweet treat. To avoid getting caught, she hid the egg yolk mixture in the container holding communion batters. The next day, the other nuns found the sweet, tried it and loved it. The recipe was then discovered by a local baker who started making and selling them.

That bakery still exists, Casa da Ovos Moles in Portugal.

turquoise

@SarahGen-- Do you know that ovos moles is the first Portugal pastry to receive protected status? The European Union gives this designation to regional specialties to protect and promote foods. This designation also encourages that these foods be produced according to the best standards. Ovos moles is the first Portuguese confectionery to get this designation.

Pastel de Tentúgal, a puff pastry from Tentúgal village is the second confectionery item to get the designation.

SarahGen

Most ovos moles are shaped like seashells nowadays. Without the wafer coating, the rolled up dessert look like boiled egg yolks. It doesn't look very appetizing when it's not covered with wafer or pastry. But the finished product looks and tastes great. Just as the article said, it's simple and sweet.

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    • To create ovos moles, the egg yolk must be separated from the white.
      By: Ingae
      To create ovos moles, the egg yolk must be separated from the white.