Natas do ceu is a layered cream dessert, popular in Portugal, consisting of Maria cookies and layers of various creams. The first is a sweet egg cream made by whisking sugar syrup with egg yolks to create a sweet, yellow colored topping. The second cream is a mixture of meringue and whipped cream.
The dessert layers alternate between the meringue cream mixture and crumbled Maria cookies. The sweet egg cream is reserved for the top.
‘Natas’ means cream and ‘do ceu’ means of the sky. The dish is affectionately called the cream of heaven.
Natas do Ceu has a similar appearance to another Portuguese dessert called Serradurra, or Sawdust pudding. It is also a layered dessert, alternating between whipped cream and maria cookie crumbles. The two can be easily differentiated by their topping as the Serradura does not have a yellow egg topping but rather whipped cream topped with a garnish like cinnamon, nuts or passion fruit pulp.
Origin & Cultural Significance
Natas do Ceu is popular as a Christmas food. In Portugal, Natas de Ceu and other cream pastries alike aren’t just desserts. They are also enjoyed as breakfast and eaten at any time of the day as an accompaniment to coffee.
Portuguese Natas de Ceu Recipe
- Maria cookies, package – 1
- Heavy cream – 2 cups
- Eggs, yolks and whites separated - 6
- Water – 2 tbsp
- Sugar- ½ cup plus 2 tbsp
- Milk – 1 tsp
- Crush the cookies into fine crumbs and set aside.
Sweet egg topping
- In a small sauce pan, pour in 2 tablespoons of water and 1/4 cup of the sugar and stir.
- Heat the sugar until it forms into a light threadlike syrup but do not boil or allow it to become golden.
- In a small bowl, whisk the yolks with a teaspoon of the milk.
- Gradually, while still whisking, drizzle in the sugar syrup, incorporating it thoroughly into the yolks and set aside.
- Beat the cream with 1/4 cup of sugar until peaks form and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites, until foamy and continue to beat on high speed while gradually incorporating 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- Beat until soft peaks form.
- Fold the egg whites into the cream until they are thoroughly incorporated.
- In alternating layers, starting on the bottom of glass bowl or individual serving cups, add the cookie crumbs.
- Pour a layer of cream followed by a layer of cookies until there's no more left
- Top with the sweetened egg yolks.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 498Total Fat: 47gSaturated Fat: 29gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 227mgSodium: 76mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 12gProtein: 6g