Picarones: Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Doughnuts
These light and crispy doughnut-like fried treats are served for dessert in Peru and Chile. Picarones are good when drenched in spiced syrup.
- Serves: 30 persons
- 3cinnamon sticks , divided
- 2teaspoons whole anise seed
- 2teaspoons whole cloves , divided
- 1pound sweet potatoes
- 1pound uncooked pumpkin, or 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
- 1tablespoon instant yeast
- 1tablespoon granulated sugar
- Salt, to taste
- ¼cup pisco , or other brandy
- 3cups flour
- ¼cup molasses
- 1 ½cups light brown sugar, packed
- ½cup water
- 1quart vegetable oil, for frying
Step 1Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 teaspoons anise seed, and 1 teaspoon cloves to the water.
Step 2Peel the sweet potatoes, and cut into large chunks. Cut the fresh pumpkin (if you are not using canned) in large chunks as well.
Step 3Add the sweet potatoes and fresh pumpkin to the boiling water and cook until soft. You will need to remove the pumpkin first, as it will cook faster. Strain and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and let cool.
Step 4When the pumpkin and potatoes are cool enough to handle, mash them or run them through a food mill . Let cool. You will need 3/4 cup sweet potato purée and 3/4 cup pumpkin puree.
Step 5In the bowl of a standing mixer, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the 1/2 cup of cooled (slightly warm, not hot) reserved cooking water. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Step 6Add the eggs, salt cooled sweet potato puree, cooled pumpkin puree, and the pisco and mix with the dough hook attachment until well mixed.
Step 7Add the flour gradually and mix with the dough hook until smooth, about 5 minutes. The dough should be stretchy and smooth but still sticky. If it is very liquid, you can add up to 1/2 cup more flour.
Step 8Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, or about 2 hours.
Step 9Juice the orange and limes and reserve juice. Place the molasses, sugar, orange rind, lime rinds, orange juice, lime juice, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon cloves, and 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring.
Step 10Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until mixture thickens slightly. The consistency should be similar to pancake syrup, and it will thicken more as it cools. Strain to remove the orange and lime rind and spices.
Step 11When the dough has risen, heat the oil in a pot to 350 F.
Step 12Wet your fingers in the salted water. Form the doughnuts by grabbing a small handful of dough and stretching it into a ring around a couple of fingers, then tossing the dough quickly into the oil. Cook briefly, 20 seconds or so, and then flip the doughnuts using the handle of a long wooden spoon.
Step 13Cook the doughnuts in the oil until they are golden brown (about 30 seconds longer), then remove them to a paper towel-lined plate.
Step 14Serve immediately drizzled with the warm syrup.