Almond blossom – Algarvian Snow and Sweet Almond Delights.

This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch) Português (Portuguese (Portugal))

Almond Blossom

I love this time of year when the almond trees in the Algarve are in blossom. The sight always gives me a happy feeling! Their delicate white and pink colours are the first signs that spring is on its way. Almond trees originated from the Middle East; how did they end up here in Portugal? There is a beautiful legend about this which I would like to share with you. After all, a little romance doesn’t hurt anyone …😉

The Legend

Legend says that the almond trees first appeared in the Algarve, particularly in Silves, around the time of the Arab occupation, hundreds of years ago.
After one of his many battles, the Arab King Ibn-Almundim fell in love with one of his prisoners, a tall, blonde, blue-eyed princess called Gilda. King Ibn-Almundim gave Gilda her freedom but as time went by, he ended up winning her heart and marrying her. Over time Gilda  became homesick and fell into a deep depression. The King was desperate to help and ended up finding a creative solution. He issued orders that almond trees should be planted all over the region. The following spring the King took his Queen to one of the castle terraces so that they could both look over the almond trees that were already covered with small white and pink flowers. The Queen gazed at the  view that so resembled her homelands’ snow-covered fields and felt her depression lifting and started to improve day after day. ❤


Besides the delicious (not quite so healthy  ☺) sweets that are available everywhere in the Algarve, the almond is nowadays also considered a “superfood”. It is one of the most popular snacks in the world because of its great health benefits. Rich in protein, vitamin E, magnesium, and monounsaturated fat (kind to the heart), it is considered (like avocado and olive oil) to be extremely effective in preventing diabetes and heart problems and in lowering high cholesterol.

Almond Picking

First come the flowers, then the leaves, and when the petals fall the almonds start to grow. Initially coated in a velvety green skin which eventually hardens and peels off, revealing a hard brown shell, they are ready to harvest by late summer. The traditional way of picking almonds in Portugal is by laying down a big net or sheet on the ground underneath the almond tree and hitting the branches with a long pole, causing the almonds to fall onto the net. After collecting them, they then need to be dried out in the sun for a few days before they are ready to be cracked open to separate the edible fruit from the outer shell. Cracking this very hard nut is not easy and has regularly left me with bruised fingers ! Believe me, after this experience you are more than willing to pay a little more for shelled almonds.

Sweet Almond Delights

As mentioned before, there is a wide range of sweet delights prepared with almonds and (I almost don’t dare say it …) a delicious liqueur called “Amarguinha”. But you’ve just read that the almond is a superfood so how bad can it be ?  Especially if you add a few slices of fresh lemon.

A few well-known sweets are :

Doces Finos 

Doces finos 

Real pieces of art made with the wonderful marzipan that only almonds from Algarve can produce.

Candied Easter Almonds – Amêndoas de Páscoa

Candied almonds, which are popular in Portugal during Easter, were used to celebrate weddings in Roman times. Perhaps this Roman custom was inspired by a Greek legend about almonds as a symbol of love. Why does it always seem that they were much more romantic in those days? ☺

Toucinho do céu and Morgado de Amêndoa (Portimão)

Toucinho de Céu – (translates Bacon from Heaven)

The use of pork fat is traditional in Portuguese confectioneries. Toucinho do céu, literally translated as “bacon from heaven,” is an almond cake made with pork lard. Created in the 18th century by nuns at the Santa Clara Convent in northern Portugal, this dense cake is one of the most popular desserts in Portugal.

And last but not least the “Tarta de Amêndoa” probably the most famous almond tart in Portugal. I am hoping you would like to taste a slice of Portugal…. so here’s the recipe!

Tarta de Amêndoa 

Tarta de Amêndoa


For the dough:

  • 175 g self-raising flour 
  • 175 g of sugar
  • 150 g butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50 ml hot milk
  • Greasing margarine
  • For the filling:
  • 200 g peeled almonds, sliced
  • 200 g of sugar
  • 100 g butter
  • 100 ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Prepare your baking tin by greasing it with margarine.

Preparing the dough: 

in a bowl, beat the butter with the sugar until mixed well. Add the eggs and flour, little by little, keeping beating until you have added them all. Finally add the hot milk, continue to beat, until everything is well mixed and a dough has formed. Press the dough into the baking tin in the required shape and bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, remove and set aside.

Prepare the filling: place the sugar, butter, milk and lemon juice in a pan over a gentle heat and stir until everything is well dissolved. Add the almonds and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Pour this almond mixture over the already cooked base and bake again until golden brown. Remove from the oven, let it cool and serve. Enjoy!

Almond Blossom Art

Almond blossom inspires us all, especially the artists. I would like to share with you some of Joelma Artes works of art. This time, of course, with the subject of Almond Blossom. I do hope you love the image.  Joelma Artes has a large collection of unique works of art, including Mandalas, beautiful paintings and amazing natural creations in wood! If you would like to see more you can go to Joelma´s site on Facebook or Instagram.

With warm greetings from Carvoeiro, I say farewell to you and hope to be back soon with my next post.


Joelma Arts

Joelma Arts  –  /


This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch) Português (Portuguese (Portugal))


No Comments

Leave a Comment