A Portuguese pastry named for their resemblance to religious vestments.

Various Jésuitas at Leitaria Do Carmo (photo: Brent Petersen)

Jésuita origin story

Similar to the French pastry Jésuite, which originated in Bordeaux, the Portuguese version is called Jésuita.

The story goes that Confeitaria Moura, a bakery in the town of Santo Tirso, about 15 miles from Porto was looking to diversify their offerings. As luck would have it, a Spanish pastry chef was passing through town and he brought with him a recipe for a puff pastry filled with egg custard and topped with meringue.

Jésuita from Confeitaria Moura (image: Confeitaria Moura)

The owner of Confeitaria Moura hired the Spanish chef who began making the treat which sold like crazy. The Jésuita was born!

Unfortunately, the name of the Spanish pastry chef is lost in time. However, the same recipe has been in use at Confeitaria Moura for well over 100 years. And, even the current owners of the bakery, 4th generation descendants of the original owner, don’t know where the Spanish chef got the recipe, although many believe it came from a convent, perhaps in the Basque region of Spain.

How the Jésuita is made

Jésuitas for sale (photo: Brent Petersen)

Jésuita is a puff pastry filled with egg custard and topped with meringue. The pastry is cut into a triangular shape to resemble a Jesuit’s habit. Variations on the Jésuita include filling the pastry with chocolate and other delights. The meringue on top can also have different flavors or be omitted altogether in favor of sliced almonds (my favorite).

Some people say that the best way to eat a Jésuita is to open it up and flip over the puff pastry so the filling is now on the outside. Sounds messy!

Where to get Jésuita

Leitaria Do Carmo advertising their Jésuitas (photo: Brent Petersen)

I’ve had very good Jésuitas all over northern Portugal. Of course, if possible, it’s best to go the source, Confeitaria Moura, in Santo Tirso. They also have a shop in Porto and a little takeaway in the newly renovated Porto market. In Viana do Castelo, Leitaria Do Carmo is a terrific old-school bakery with a variety of different Jésuitas.

About the Author

Brent Petersen is the Editor-in-Chief of Destination Eat Drink. He currently resides in Setubal, Portugal. Brent has written the novel “Truffle Hunt” (Eckhartz Press) and the short story collection “That Bird.” He’s also written dozens of foodie travel guides to cities around the world on Destination Eat Drink, including in-depth eating and drinking guides in Portugal to Lisbon, PortoSintraÉvoraBragaLouléAlmadaMonsaraz, and Batalha. Brent’s podcast, also called Destination Eat Drink, is available on all major podcasting platforms.

Author: Brent