Origin of the Custard Tart

According to popular history, Portuguese custard tarts were first baked over 200 years ago in the Jeronimos Monastery, in Belem, which is now a Lisbon neighbourhood. 

In 1820, a liberal revolution closed monasteries and convents throughout the country.  Someone from the
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monastery then began selling them in a local shop.  The pastries became popular with visitors to the monastery and the nearby Belem Tower (Torre de Belem).

Then, in 1837, the secret recipe was passed on to what is now the Casa Pasteis de Belem, which has used the same recipe ever since.  Tourists and locals alike continue to line up for hours to taste the creamy tarts, often with a sprinkling of cinammon or powdered sugar.

Variations of the recipe have since spread throughout Portugal and beyond.  In the 1990s, they became particularly popular in Asia, fanning out from the former Portuguese colony of Macau to other countries and territories such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore.

Portuguese custard tarts are commonly known as pasteis de nata, or just natas for short.  They're also called queijadas in the Azores. 
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