Diana's Desserts - www.dianasdesserts.com


Servings: 8-12
Every market and public space in most Peruvian cities is a destination for street food vendors. Almost always there is one selling one of Peru's unique desserts, Picarones.

These are extremely sweet fried squash, sweet potato or pumpkin dough or combination of pumpkin and sweet potato dough (doughnuts or fritters) served as hot as possible and covered in a warm syrup called "Chancaca", a raw cane sugar melted into a syrup.

For the Fritters:
1/2 pound pumpkin (calabaza) or any winter squash, peeled and sliced
1/2 pound sweet potato, preferably white sweet potato (boniato), peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground anise seeds
4 cups all-pourpose flour, sifted
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons/1/4 oz./7g) active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
Vegetable oil, for deep frying

Miel De Chancaca (Sugar Syrup):
2 cups dark brown sugar or Chancaca (raw unrefined sugar) Note: Use 14 ounces or 1 block or 400 grams, if using Chancaca)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups water
1 large piece lemon peel
1 large piece orange peel

1. Cook the pumpkin or squash and sweet potato in enough water to cover until they are tender.

2. Drain the pumpkin and sweet potato mixture, mash them, and force them through a sieve. Mix in the salt, ground anise seeds, and flour.

3. Soften the yeast in the 1/4 cup lukewarm water and mix it into the flour to make a fairly firm dough, adding a little more water if necessary (although the pumpkin and sweet potato will probably supply enough moisture).

4. Knead the dough until it is smooth and satiny, about 5 minutes. Place it in a bowl, cover with a cloth, and allow to stand in a warm, draft-free place for 2 or 3 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

5. Pull off pieces of dough by tablespoons and shape them into rings. Deep fry them in hot oil (375 degrees F/190 degrees C) until they are browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve with Miel de Chancaca (Sugar Syrup).

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until the syrup is quite thick. Remove and discard the orange and lemon peel. Serve as a dipping sauce with the Picarones.

Makes 8-12 servings.

Chancaca can be purchased online at Amigofoods.com or at latin or hispanic markets. Chancaca is sometimes called Panela or Piloncilla and can be purchased at Mexgrocer.com.

Date: June 11, 2007