Have you heard of the Peruvian sweet treat, picarones? If you have, and thought they sound delicious, but you’re not sure if you’d like them, or what they taste like, then you’re not alone.
When I first heard about this sweet pastry which is traditionally dipped in syrup, I thought that is something I want to know more about.
As a lover of all sweet tasting things, any dessert food is something that I always want to know more about.
If this sounds like you, then you’re in the right place to find all of this out.
In this article, I will be letting you know everything you need to know about picarones. I’ll be telling you a little about where they come from, how to make them, and what they taste like.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about this delicious traditional dessert from Peru.
What Are Picarones?
Picarones are a sweet dessert which are traditionally made and eaten by people who live in Peru. They might remind you of bunuelos, which is a similar doughnut-like dessert found in Spain.
The most important ingredients you would need to make picarones are sweet potato and squash. The pastries are shaped like a doughnut, in a ring.
Traditionally, in Peru, they are served along with anticuchos, which is another type of dish originating from and commonly eaten in Peru.
This tasty sweet tasting treat first became popular in Peru around the time of the colonial period.
They came into being because bunuelos, the aforementioned Spanish doughnut-like pastry, became too expensive to make. Peruvians became a less expensive alternative to bunuelos.
As banuelos became more and more expensive to make, many Peruvians could no longer afford the ingredients needed to produce them.
This left a gap in the Peruvian diet for something just as sweet and tasty which would cost less to make.
To make benulos more cost effective, people in Peru gradually began to replace each ingredient with a different, more inexpensive, substitute.
As more and more of the traditional ingredients were replaced with something else, the recipe no longer resembled the original benulos recipe.
The product made by the new recipe became known as picarones. And so, the picarone was accidentally invented.
Since then, picarones have become more and more popular, and are now a staple in any traditional Peruvian diet. They have found their place as part of Peru’s cultural history.
The beloved sweet dessert is mentioned in all different types of Peruvian novels, music, and poetry.
You might have heard of chancaca syrup, a sweet tasting syrup made from sugar.
Traditionally, picarones are served with this syrup. You either serve it in a side bowl to dip the picarones in, or pour it over the picarones.
It is no wonder the two are so often paired together; the sugary syrup goes perfectly with the sweet flavor of the picarones. Together, they make a perfect dessert dish.
What Do Picarones Taste Like?
Before you set about making picarones, you’ll probably want to know if they are something you would want to eat. Let me tell you a little about what they taste like.
Picarones are fried in a hot pan, which means they are hot and crispy.
If you enjoy eating warm, freshly made churros straight after they have been fried, then you will definitely like this element of the picarones. This makes them similar to American doughnuts.
However, where the picarones differ from churros and doughnuts is due to one key ingredient.
Picarones are made using squash and sweet potato, or sometimes even pumpkin can be substituted in for either of these things.
Occasionally, a recipe will suggest using all three. It’s good to play around with the ratios for different flavors.
This means that, although the picarones are sweet, they also have this savory element to them.
This is what makes them so delicious; they bring together both the best of sweet, and the best of savory, to make something new.
In many ways the picarones is a pastry of two sides. In the same way that it has both savory and sweet elements, it is also known for having both a sweet and spicy taste.
This is because it is filled with a range of spices, which give it great flavor and a bit of a kick.
It even has some beer in it, which makes it slightly bitter. However, it also contains white sugar and brown sugar, making it deliciously sweet.
Usually served with chancaca syrup, which is made from sugarcane, this adds to and complements its sweetness more.
Being both sweet and savory, and both spicy and sweet, there’s something that everyone will like about picarones. That’s what makes this dish so unique.
Even if you’re someone who can’t make their mind up when it comes to food, perhaps you opt for sweet and salty popcorn, then picarones would be perfect for you.
Delivering both sweet and spicy, they relinquish the need to choose just one option.
How To Make Picarones
So, now you know all about picarones, there is only one thing left to find out: how to make this delicious dessert.
To make picarones is easy. With the right ingredients and correct cooking equipment, anyone can do it. It is really easy. The process takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Making picarones is a simple process. You just need the correct ingredients.
To make picarones, you will need: 1 Tbsp of baking yeast, 1 tsp of sugar, 1 Tbsp of corn meal of ground corn, ¼ cup of water, ¼ Tbs of anise, ½ tsp of salt, 1 cup of beer, 3 cups of white flour, 1 to 2 cups of brown sugar, and another 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of butternut squash.
You get a lot of reward for your efforts, as all this makes about 52 doughnuts. This is perfect if you want to share what you’ve made with a few friends, or family.
The Cooking Process
Now that you’ve got all the ingredients you need to make picarones, you can start cooking them.
Once you have everything you need, making them is the fun part. It should take about 2 hours and thirty minutes.
- Firstly, dissolve the yeast and sugar in a bowl of warm water.
- Mix together the cornmeal, anise, and salt in a large bowl. Mix in 1 cup of the flour, and the beer. Add in the contents of the small bowl of yeast and sugar mixture.
- Next add 2 cups of flour and the squash. Mix together until you see dough forming.
- Leave the mixture in a warm place for two hours, covered with a towel, to let it rise. If you have more time, you can put it in a refrigerator for up to 12 hours to let it rise. Just make sure you cover it with film.
- Next, drop small pieces of the dough into a hot pan with oil. Let them fry until they look crispy and turn golden.
- Use a paper towel to drain excess oil.
- Serve up on a plate, along with a side of chancaca syrup, and dig in.