- Cinnamon sticks 3 (divided)
- whole anise seed 2 teaspoons
- whole cloves 2 teaspoons (divided)
- Sweet Potatoes 1 pound
- Pumpkin 1 pound (uncooked, or 3/4 cup canned pumpkin) • 250 kcal
- Instant yeast 1 tablespoon
- Sugar 1 tablespoon • 470 kcal
- Eggs 2 • 130 kcal
- Salt (to taste)
- Pisco 1/4 cup (any other brandy will be fine)
- Flour 3 cups
- Orange 1
- Limes 2
- Molasses 1/4 cup (black treacle)
- light brown sugar 1 1/2 cups
- Water 1/2 cup
- Vegetable Oil 1-quart
These doughnuts have a wonderfully warm and spicy-sweet flavor, a bit like spice cake. Served crispy, warm and smothered in the sweet syrup, they are the perfect fall or winter comfort food.
It can be a bit tricky to shape the dough into rings to deep fry them, so don’t worry if your first attempts are a bit wonky! Whatever shape your picarones end up as, they’ll taste just as great as if they were perfect rings.
As the dough needs to be left to rise for around two hours, make sure you have plenty of time in hand to make these sweet treats.
Fill 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.
Peel the sweet potatoes, and cut into large chunks. Cut the fresh pumpkin (if you are not using canned) in large chunks as well.
Add 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.
When 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 purée.
In 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.
Add the eggs, salt cooled sweet potato purée, cooled pumpkin purée, and the Pisco/brandy.
Mix with the dough hook attachment until well mixed.
Add 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.
Cover with a clean tea towel or loose cling wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, or about 2 hours.
Juice 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.
Lower 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.
When the dough has risen, heat the oil in a pot to 350 F. Test by using a cooking thermometer, or throw a cube of bread into the oil to see if it crisps up within 10 seconds.
Wet 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.
Cook the doughnuts in the oil until they are golden brown (about 30 seconds longer), then remove them to a paper towel-lined plate.
Serve immediately drizzled with the warm syrup.
If you can’t serve the picarones immediately, they can be kept warm in a 200 F/ 80 C fan oven for up to 1 hour.
Don’t be tempted to keep lifting the tea towel or cling wrap up to look at the dough when it’s rising – you’ll let cold air into the bowl and it will take longer to rise.