Here's Why You Need to Try Portugal's Bola de Berlim on Your Next Trip to Portugal

Portuguese Bola de Berlim | © Viennetta / Shutterstock
Portuguese Bola de Berlim | © Viennetta / Shutterstock
Photo of Nina Santos
11 July 2017

These days, it seems like everyone has heard about Lisbon and her delicious, egg tart pastries called pasteis de nata, but they aren’t the only desserts worth trying. In fact, pastry-filled cafés and bakeries take over the streets, outnumbering most other businesses in the country, and in addition to pasteis de nata, these venues sell plenty more desserts, each deserving of their own feature. In this one, however, Culture Trip introduces you to bolas de Berlim.

As their name suggests, bolas de Berlim are balls of cream-filled dough that are Portugal’s spin on Germany’s Berliner doughnuts. Slightly larger than their namesake, bolas de Berlim are sliced in half around the middle and filled with an egg-based cream typical in Portuguese desserts. This is one major difference from Germany where Berliners are filled with a variety of jams and icing. In Portugal, they also go by the name Sonhos de Padaria, or Bakery Dreams.

Bola de Berlim | © Viennetta / Shutterstock

Fluffy on the outside but thick and creamy on the inside, these sweets easily overwhelm the senses and have become a national favorite that’s super easy to find. One surprising spot, however, is the Portuguese coast; vendors literally walk around the beaches holding containers filled with bolinhas, or “little balls,” announcing their sale. Despite being small, sugar-covered calorie bombs, locals rarely hesitate before buying one or more to enjoy while sunbathing.

So why should you try them on your next trip? Not only are they a staple dessert, but they are delicious. Also, eating bolas de Berlim is a good way to get acquainted with creme pasteleiro, known as confectioner’s cream in English, which the Portuguese use in many of their desserts.

Bolas de Berlim | © Kimble Young / Flickr

Some recommendations, like that from The Guardian, suggest seeking them out in the north of the country, for instance, near Viana do Castelo, but no matter where they are found, these desserts will satisfy any sweet tooth and leave the eater with a sugary smile. A few special pastelarias (pastry shops) that are worth a visit, however, include Lisbon’s Confeitaria Nacional and Pastelaria Versailles.

Want to try recreating bolas de Berlim at home? Make sure to have plenty of eggs, milk, flour, and sugar on hand! Recipes vary slightly from baker to baker, but has provided internet sleuths with a basic step-by-step guide that shouldn’t be too hard to follow. The following video by SaborIntenso will show Portuguese-speakers another way to make them as well.

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