Hi christina. I, too, am of Portuguese descent–from the Azores. My family is from the island of São Miguel, from the towns of Maia and Ponta Delgada. I also grew up in Fall River and spent a lot of time in New Bedford as a kid, so I know of the treats you’re speaking.
This recipe, which I don’t call queijadas, is from my aunts. Pastéis de coco is what they called it. They prefer not to use the thin crust, opting for the paper cups when the came to America.
What I learned when I wrote my book and spent the better part of a decade traveling all over Portugal, Madeira, and the Azores is that there are a million different names for the same dish. Take torresmos. Im my family, they’re big chunks of pork, covered in a pepper paste and roasted. Others call pork preserved in fat torresmos. And still others, around the Bairrada region on the mainland, call pork cracklings torresmos.
I try to be very careful when qualifying Portuguese recipes as coming from my family or a particular cook, as I try to honor what that family or cook calls their food. As you can see, for example, from Karen’s comment, her mother-in-law made queijadas with a crust and with coconut. Also, if you research, you’ll see cooks who call a treat “queijada” and there’s no crust. And to make things more confusing, almost all of these have no cheese in them, but, according to lore, the original ones, supposedly from Sintra, so contain cheese (requeijão), hence the “queij” part of “queijada.”
The term “queijada” is used very indiscriminately these days to mean just about any treat, crust or no crust, coconut or not, made in a “forma.” Of course, that is with the exception of pastéis de nata, pastéis de feijão, pastéis de limon, etc.