Street food is a big part of the Peruvian culture. You can find vendors selling grilled meats, corn on the cob, tamales, popcorn and more.
If you have a sweet tooth, you’d definitely want to give picarones a try.
Picarones are a local and tourist favorite alike. Not only are they delicious, but the talented picaroneras who make them are fun to watch in action.
Read on to hear more.
What are Picarones?
Picarones are a dessert made from dough fried in oil, then drenched in syrup called chancaca. They are also called picarones peruanos made with the traditional receta picarones.
While receta picarones looks a lot like a Peruvian doughnut, they differ in how the batter is made.
Traditional doughnut recipes we see in the U.S. begin with flour, eggs, yeast, sugar, and salt. Other ingredients can be included, such as vanilla, for flavor.
But what really sets picarones peruanos flavor and texture apart is the addition of squash and sweet potato to the batter.
For the Picarones
- 3/4 cup of canned pumpkin puree
- 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 dashes of salt
- 3 cups flour
- 32 oz. vegetable oil (for deep-frying)
Optional: Confectioner’s Sugar to sprinkle on the cooked picarones
You can buy chancaca syrup or make it yourself;
- 2 pieces of chancaca, chopped (or 1/4 cup molasses)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 or 2 star anise (use 1 if you don’t want a strong anise flavor)
- Juice from 1 orange
- Juice from 2 lemons or limes
How to Make Picarones
Here is our favorite way to make picarones.
1. To make the syrup, combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Add just enough water to cover the contents in the pan. Cook until the chancaca breaks down into a liquid. Strain and retain only the syrup. Set aside to cool.
2. Cook the sweet potatoes. Place the sweet potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water, and boil until easier pierced with a fork. Remove the sweet potatoes from the water and mash them, then set aside to cool.
3. Put 1/2 cup lukewarm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast and sugar, then stir gently so the yeast dissolves.
4. Add remaining dough ingredients except for the flour. Mix well on low speed using the mixer’s dough hook.
5. Once the ingredients are mixed, start adding flour 1/2 cup at a time, allowing the flour to begin being incorporated before adding the next 1/2 cup. Mix for five minutes.
6. Once the dough is smooth and stretchy, stop the mixer and remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Place the bowl somewhere warm. In about two hours, the dough should have doubled in size.
7. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper to place the hot cooked picarones as you remove them from the saucepan.
7. Heat oil to 350 degrees in a large, heavy saucepan. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the heat of the oil by dropping a little batter into it. The dough will rise up quickly when the oil is hot enough.
8. For this step, you need to be careful and work quickly so you don’t get burned by the oil. And it may take a few tries to get the technique down.
Wet one hand, then grab a small portion of the dough, quickly pushing your thumb into the center, then pulling the dough gently apart to make a ring shape. Then carefully place the ring into the oil by dropping one end in then pulling back a little as you drop the ring.
9. Use a very long wooden spoon or dowel to turn the rings over once they brown. You want both sides to be golden brown. It should take about 2 minutes for each side.
Serve the picarones hot, sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar and plenty of the chancaca syrup.
For a real Peruvian experience, you could try pairing this dessert with chicha morada. It’s the Peruvian go-to drink.
Treat Yourself to these Peruvian Dessert Delights
Picarones have to be tasted to fully appreciate how special they are. They are truly a sensory delight.
So simple, yet so delicious. But if making them is more than you bargained for, you can buy picarones mix ready made.
Be sure to bookmark our blog so you can return to find more great Peruvian dishes to try. We’re sure you’ll find many new favorites!
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