A Delicious and Sweet Peruvian Dessert
Picarones are a beloved dessert in Peru that is made of sweet potato and pumpkin dough. They are often compared to donuts, but the texture is softer and spongier. They are then fried and served with a sweet syrup made of chancaca (unrefined sugar), cinnamon, and clove.
Origins of Picarones
Picarones have their roots in the pre-Columbian era when the Incas made a similar dessert with squash and sweet potato called "tawa-tawas." During the colonial period, African slaves brought molasses to Peru, which was used to sweeten the dough. Later, Spanish colonizers introduced wheat flour, which was incorporated into the recipe.
Today, picarones are a common street food in Peru, especially during holidays and celebrations such as Independence Day, All Saints Day, and Carnival. They are often sold by street vendors who set up stalls on the side of the road or in markets.
Making picarones is a relatively simple process, but it requires some patience and attention to detail. The first step is to prepare the dough, which is made of sweet potato, pumpkin, wheat flour, yeast, sugar, and anise seeds. The dough is then left to rise for about an hour before being shaped into rings.
The rings are then fried in hot oil until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside but soft and spongy on the inside. Once they are fried, they are drained on paper towels to remove excess oil.
The final step is to make the syrup, which is made of chancaca (unrefined sugar), cinnamon, and clove. The syrup is heated until it reaches a thick, syrupy consistency, and then it is poured over the picarones. The result is a delicious and sweet treat that is loved by many in Peru.
Here's a recipe for picarones:
- 1 lb. sweet potato
- 1 lb. pumpkin
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground aniseed
- 1 tsp. dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- Oil for frying
- Chancaca syrup (recipe below)
- Peel and chop the sweet potato and pumpkin. Boil them in a large pot until tender. Drain and mash them together until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, and aniseed.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water.
- Add the flour mixture and yeast mixture to the mashed sweet potato and pumpkin. Mix until a smooth dough is formed.
- Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Wet your hands with water and take a small amount of the dough. Form it into a ring shape about 2-3 inches in diameter.
- Carefully place the picarones in the hot oil, making sure not to overcrowd the pot. Fry until golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Remove the picarones from the oil and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
- 10.Serve the picarones hot with chancaca syrup.
To make chancaca syrup:
- 1 lb. chancaca (unrefined cane sugar)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- In a saucepan, combine the chancaca, water, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the syrup thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and let the syrup cool.
- Serve the syrup with the picarones.