Cruising along the Ria de Aveiro really opened up my appetite. Going to Aveiro and not having ovos moles is like going to Italy and not having gelato. Ovos moles are the sweet of choice in that part of Portugal and one of my all-time favorite Portuguese foods. When I heard of a place where you could actually make your own ovos moles, I had to try it for myself.
The Oficina do Doce can be found a stone’s throw away from the tourist information area in Aveiro, but you have to know where to look: ask to book a tour at the shop on the main street and, when the tour starts, make your way down a long narrow hallway.
We ended up on the same tour as another family and a whole class of what I presume were 9- or 10-year-old kids. Depending on your opinion on large groups of children is, we either got really lucky or really unlucky! They tour started with a short video on the history of ovos moles and how they were invented, which is very similar to other conventual sweets. We saw all the different sweets that are derived from the same standard recipe. The lady giving the tour was great with the kids and asked them all the right questions. I knew some of the answers but still learned a thing or two, such as the fact that the shapes for ovos moles are representative of the city of Aveiro and the region, and that those shapes are patented. The clams represent the river and the seashells represent the sea. The barrels are used for transporting the doce de ovos (the ovos moles’ filling) and walnuts are representative of the many walnut trees in the area.
Then – much to my excitement – the demonstration began! We learned that it takes 3 days to make ovos moles from start to finish. But because they had already done all the preparation work for us, we would get to do the two most fun parts of the entire process: the filling and the eating! The guide showed us all the steps first and then the kids lined up to have a go. With disinfected hands they took turns to use the piping bag to fill the host shells. The line grew shorter and I began to worry that I wouldn’t get a chance to fill my own ovo mole as they hadn’t called the adults up to have a turn. A mild panic ensued so I decided to hand my camera to my husband and line up behind the last child (I’m absolutely shameless). After I proudly finished filling my ovo mole, they then called up the other three adults. Oh dear, I’d jumped the gun too soon!
After they snapped the two shells together to make the ovos moles, we got to eat them. Normally you’re supposed to wait a day for the two half-shells to fully seal, but we decided to be rebels and risk the gooey goodness bursting out the sides as we bit into it. Shortly after, we made our way to the two gift shops right outside and stocked up on sweet treats, some of which mysteriously disappeared before we could gift them to relatives.
If you’re interested in making a conventual sweet similar to ovos moles at home, check out this recipe I posted about (I just hope your culinary skills are better than mine!).
The Oficina do Doce is open almost all year round and is a fun, 30-minute experience for people of all ages who enjoy food and it really is a cute experience for kids to learn and play pastry chef for a little bit. Put it on your to-do list when you’re next in Aveiro.