The popular dulce de batata is a traditional Paraguayan dessert made with sweet potatoes. Native to Central and South America, this almost sweet edible root is a fundamental staple in the South American cuisine. From savories to sweets, this versatile veggie is featured. It is commonly used in stews, as accompaniments and it is also a popular choice in desserts! South Americans love to use fruits and vegetables like corn, squash and sweet potatoes as the star ingredients in many desserts!
Dulce de batata
This irresistible sweet potato candy is a result of Guarani’s excellent culinary expertise using locally available produces. There is a huge debate about the origin of this dessert as this is widespread in the whole Río de Plata region – Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. While the Argentines and Uruguayans strongly claim for this dessert’s nativity, for now, let’s just call this a traditional Latin American dessert!
Preparation of this dish is very simple and straightforward. All you need are good quality sweet potatoes that are sweet in nature with deep orange color non-fibrous flesh.
Dulce de batata or doce de batata as known in some parts, is made by slow cooking mashed sweet potato with sugar, flavored with vanilla essence and is set to a jelly-like candy using gelatin that gives it a beautiful shine on the outside. Unlike regular candies, this has a firm texture and a soft bite to it.
This recipe falls under the easy category or beginners level. With few ingredients and little patience, this delectable candy is ready to be devoured.
Variations and varieties of dulce de batata
The authentic way is to use only sweet potatoes in this dessert. But with time, various versions of this sweet evolved and became popular, especially the addition of chocolates and cherries.
This candy is very similar to the popular Spanish dulce de membrillo, which is a sticky marmalade like candy from the quince fruit paste. These irresistible sweet dishes like dulce de guayaba (made from guava), dulce de mamon (made from papaya), dulce de zapallo (made from squash or pumpkin), made out of fruits and vegetables, are traditional and typical to Latin American gastronomy!
Ways to serve dulce de batata
Dulce de batata is used in making a vintage dessert postre vigilante. Literally translated as “watchful dessert”, it has its origin in the Río de Plata regions of Argentina, dating back to the 1920s. The police officers and night watchmen hugely consumed cheese and the sweet potato paste, as it was economical and easy to carry for work.
Soon, this evolved to be a classic and an elegant dessert where the dulce de batata is either sandwiched or just layered on top of the cheese. It was called postre vigilante in honor of those guards.
Every region in Latin America has it version of postre vigilante. The Paraguayan one uses a high quality queso paraguay, a local speciality cheese made with cow’s milk. The highlight of this cheese is its processing as explained here.
In Uruguay, a similar dessert is served with cheese and a dulce made with quince instead.
In Brazil, a similar combination with cheese and guava paste bears the romantic name of Romeu e Julieta (Romeo and Juliet).
Commonly, dulce de batata is served along with cheese and nuts after dinner or in between meals as small snacks. You can also have this with bread and a good wine! Nowadays, it is also served as a dessert in many Paraguayan restaurants and homes.
Enjoy this simple sweet as a part of aperitif or a snack or like some natives do, even as a breakfast. It is way too irresistible for just one bite!
- 3 lb sweet potatoes
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon glucose syrup (or corn syrup)
- 1 tablespoon agar-agar
- 2½ cups water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla essence
Cook the sweet potatoes with their skin in a large pot with boiling water for 20 to 30 minutes.
Once cooked, drain and peel.
Mash the sweet potatoes and add the sugar and glucose syrup. Mix vigorously.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the preparation detaches from the bottom of the pot.
Dissolve the agar-agar in cold water, add it to the mashed potatoes and cook for another few minutes, stirring constantly until reaching a temperature of 220 F.
Add the vanilla essence and remove from heat. Pour into a pan or casserole dish lined with parchment paper.
Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.