Toucinho do Ceu or Heavenly Portuguese Custard Pie

There were many culinary winners from my trip to Lisbon this summer, but this one was just a wonderful surprise. We had it in a small family restaurant. In order to accommodate me, the waiter was speaking English, and he kept telling me that this pie was made of “prosciutto, onions, and sugar” and that it won some sort of city-wide dessert award. I was so baffled that I ordered it, and my husband laughed when he finally read the name and understood what the waiter meant. The literal translation of this custard pie is “Heavenly Bacon,” only because historically it was made from leftover pork fat, but not anymore. And we think the English word for “almond” somehow got confused for “onion” in the waiter’s vocabulary. Needless to say, this custard pie has nothing to do with onions or bacon, but it is a slice of delightful marzipan-y custard.  I got this recipe from a site called Chef Leticia.

Toucinho do Ceu or Heavenly Portuguese Custard Pie

½ c. water
1¼ c. sugar
1/8 t. salt
1¾ c. (250g) ground almonds, skinless (This is easily done by submerging almonds in water and microwaving for 5 minutes)
4 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
5 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
1 t. almond extract (or Amaretto)
1 t. orange zest, finely grated
powdered sugar, for dusting

One 10-inch round cake mold, with parchment paper on the bottom, buttered and floured.

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

In a big sauce pan, boil together the water, sugar, and salt. As soon as it comes to a boil, add the ground almonds. Using a wooden spoon, keep mixing, over low-medium heat. Stir constantly until it starts to thicken, leaving a trace after the wooden spoon in a way that you should be able to see the bottom of the pan (about 2 minutes). Do not over mix. You are looking for a soft almond paste.

Remove the pan from the heat and add butter cut into pieces. Mix well with a wooden spoon.

In a different bowl, lightly beat together the yolks and eggs. Incorporate the egg mixture into the almond mixture with a spatula. Add the amaretto and the orange zest and pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 30- 35 minutes or until the cake is firm, and the center is not jiggly. The top should turn a medium golden brown. Let it cool inside the mold, then remove it from the mold, peel the parchment paper, and dust with powdered sugar. Cut the cake into wedges and serve at room temperature.


2 thoughts on “Toucinho do Ceu or Heavenly Portuguese Custard Pie

  1. Andrew Argent says:

    This recipe will do a nice almond cake, but not the most traditional recipe. The traditional recipe calls for way more eggs, and no orange, or amaretto or salt. Additionally, you will need to let the almond mix to cool down before starting to incorporate the eggs. To make the traditional bottom / top with a nice “crust” you need to sprinkle the pan before adding the batter with one tbsp of flour, and the same on top of the batter.


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