Vaniljbullar, the Swedish variant of the Portuguese pastéis de nata.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

A souvenir I often bring home after travelling to a new country, with the opportunity to sample their local fare, is to try to recreate a version of what I love and have experienced, right back at home. In this case, it was not much of a challenge, but rather, something nice to do on a summer’s afternoon in Sweden – to bake vaniljbullar (custard tarts), which is the Swedish version of the Portuguese pastéis de nata.

The vanilla cream uses:

2 dl full cream milk
2 egg yolks
1 tbs granulated sugar
1 tbs corn starch
1 tbs vanilla extract or vanilla sugar

This version uses puff pastry, where the tops of the custard are not characteristically burnt / caramelized as in the Portuguese version. The preference for which comes with the context of dining. In Portugual, you wouldn’t dream of having the tops pale. It wouldn’t look or taste right. In Sweden, pale it is, else, it wouldn’t look or taste right.

A fun project to do, and in this instance, it reminded me of how culinary influences travel and adapt to the new circumstances and consumers.