To whet your appetite for our newest tour, Exploring Andean Cuisine in Peru & Bolivia, we are featuring a classic Peruvian dessert: picarones.
These fried treats may look like a donut (or an onion ring!) but they have a unique flavor this is all their own due to the inclusion of pumpkin, squash, or sweet potato (or all three).
Picarones have an obvious relationship with the classic Spanish buñuelos, but what makes them uniquely Peruvian (and delicious) is how they incorporate traditional Periuvian ingredients.
Despite the presence of a vegetable, picarorones are not a health food: they are fried and drizzled with syrup. If your first attempt does not produce perfectly formed rings, don’t worry, it won’t affect the taste!
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1-2 minutes
Cook method: Fry
- 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp crushed anise seed
- 1 Tbsp cornmeal
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup beer or pisco
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/3 c cooked butternut squash or sweet potato, mashed well or passed through a ricer
- 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- orange or lemon peel (a couple pieces)
- oil for frying
1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in a couple tablespoons of warm water.
2. Mix together the cornmeal, salt, anise seed, half the flour, and the beer or pisco.
3. Mix well, then add the yeast mixture and mix again.
4. Add the squash and pumpkin, the egg yolk, and then the rest of the flour, mixing for several minutes. The dough will be very soft and somewhat sticky (add more flour or water as needed).
5. Cover and set aside in a warm place and let rise for about 2 hours.
6. In the meantime, make the syrup by combining the brown sugar, 1/2 cup water, and the citrus peel in a heave saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes to form a thick syrup.
7. Heat the oil in a fry pan or wok to 350 F.
8. Divide the dough into 15 equal portions, then take them one at a time and quickly stretch it around 2 fingers to form a ring and toss it into the oil. (This works better if your fingers are rubbed with a little oil.) Repeat with other portions of the dough but do not overcrowd the fryer.
9. Fry for about 30 seconds per side, or until golden brown, flipping halfway through.
10. Remove them, draining on a rack or on paper towels, and make another batch until you have used all the dough.
11. Serve warm drizzled with the syrup.
Picarones are but one of the many Peruvian treats you can enjoy on our Exploring Andean Cuisine: Peru and Boliva tour. We can offer the tour for a minimum of 2 people. Please inquire for details!
By Peg Kern
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