Resembling doughnuts, picarones are typically made from pumpkin and sweet potato and served with a molasses syrup.
The dish is thought to have Arab origins before being adapted by Afro-Peruvians into today’s exquisite dessert.
More than most countries, Peru is a land of flavors. And much as Peruvians love savory and spicy foods, they also have a serious sweet tooth, with the country home to numerous original desserts that simply cannot be found anywhere else. One of the most classic is picarones, a uniquely Peruvian kind of mini-doughnut, made from mashed sweet potato and pumpkin, and sometimes even yuca (the Peruvian term for cassava or manioc).
The Art of Peruvian Cuisine (a beautiful coffee table book, the English language edition of which is a popular purchase among visitors to Peru), gives a good quick overview of picarones’ history, noting: “Arabic in origin, picarones were introduced to Peru by the Spanish, where they were again adapted by black African cooks who replaced wheat flour with mashed pumpkin.” Peruvian cooks also throw in a dash of yeast, sugar, aniseed, cinnamon and cloves, before serving the picarones with a syrup made from molasses and often including a diced fig leaf and orange peel.
The result is an addictive dessert that can be eaten in the street with your bare hands and that is a huge hit across Peru. Traditionally, picarones were served on Sundays, often after anticuchos, a Peruvian dish of marinated beef heart grilled on a skewer. But these days, most Peruvians don’t bother to wait until the Sabbath, or until they have dined on anticuchos, to treat themselves. Of Peru’s mouthwatering, unique panoply of home-grown desserts, picarones are likely now the most popular.
To try picarones as part of your unique, individually tailored itinerary, contact the Peru Empire Company at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +51-1-700-5100 or, if you are in the US, 347-713-7030/34.