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picarones-linkA famous Peruvian dessert, picarones are soft, doughnut-like rings made from pumpkin and sweet potato with a distinct sweet and spicy flavour. Picarones are deep fried until golden and served with chancaca – a citrusy molasses syrup.

anise seed

Sweet, aromatic anise has a distinctive licorice-like flavour and is typically used to flavor a variety of dishes, drinks, and candies.


  • 1 lb uncooked pumpkin, or 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes
  • 3 Cinnamon sticks
  • 2 teaspoons whole anise seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 quart vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 orange
  • 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. 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.
  2. Peel the sweet potatoes and pumpkin, and cut into large chunks.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and pumpkin to the boiling water and cook until soft. Strain and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and let cool.
  4. When the pumpkin and potatoes are cool enough to handle, mash them or run them through a food mill. Set aside to cool completely. Measure 3/4 cup of the mashed sweet potato and 3/4 cup of mashed pumpkin.
  5. 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.
  6. Add the eggs, salt, sweet potato, pumpkin, and the brandy and mix with the dough hook attachment until well mixed.
  7. Add the flour gradually, and mix with the dough hook until smooth, about 5 minutes. The dough should be stretchy and smooth, but sticky. If it is very liquid, you can add up to 1/2 cup more flour.
  8. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, or about 2 hours.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. When the dough has risen, heat the oil in a pot to 350°F.
  12. Wet your fingers in 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. This may take a little practice but misshapen picarones still taste heavenly so don’t fret too much! Alternatively, you can scrape the dough into a piping bag and pipe circles into the heated oil. Cook briefly, 20 seconds or so, and then flip the doughnuts using the handle of a long wooden stick or spoon.
  13. Cook the doughnuts in the oil until they are golden brown (about 30 seconds longer), then remove them to a paper towel lined plate.
  14. Serve immediately, drizzled with the warm syrup.