Camote en dulce is a Mexican sweet treat so easy to make. The recipe features sweet potatoes simmered in a fragrant and delicious piloncillo syrup to create a comforting and rich dish perfect to serve for dessert or breakfast.
Mexican Sweet Potatoes (camotes)
Camote, is a tuber whose name comes from Nahuatl and means edible root. It also goes by the name boniato or batata in Spanish-speaking countries.
Originating in the Americas, the sweet potato has been consumed In Mexico since pre-hispanic times. Its sweet taste and nutritional value have contributed to its worldwide popularity. Many countries have adopted it as part of their local gastronomy.
There are many recipes that include sweet potato, from savory to sweet. Today we will highlight camote en dulce, prepared as a dessert because of its natural sweetness.
Since the camote has some natural sweetness, you can prepare it as a dessert with any amount of piloncillo syrup you like. It is all a matter of individual taste.
However it is prepared, for breakfast or dinner, accompanied with or without a cold glass of milk, it is always delicious.
What is camote en dulce?
Camote en dulce is a Mexican dish very popular all over the country. The recipe consists of sweet potatoes simmered in water with piloncillo and spices until a thick, delicious syrup forms and coats the tender potatoes.
In my country, you will find two popular ways of making Mexican candied sweet potatoes.
The first recipe is from the Mexican state of Queretaro and is called camote achicalado. The camote is crystalized with brown sugar and lemon, aired in the sun, and baked in its juices. This process takes about three days!
The second recipe, popular in other areas of Mexico, has the potatoes partially cooked, then taken out to be basted in piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar) which is absorbed during the end of the cooking process.
The dish takes various names throughout the states, such as camotes enmielados, camotes en dulce, camotes con piloncillo, or dulce de camote, to name a few.
In Mexico, camotes en dulce can always be found being sold as street food by camoteros, who are street vendors dedicated to selling this product.
The camoteros go through the city with a cart which has a small oven where the Mexican candied sweet potatoes are cooked, the oven has a small chimney which generates a whistle every time the steam from the oven comes out.
It is never a surprise, whether at home resting or working, to hear the familiar whistle of the sweet potato cart. Over the years it has become part of the “traditional sounds of Mexico”.
Types of camotes and health benefits
There are hundreds of varieties of sweet potatoes (camotes) in Mexico. I will mention only a few, you can make this recipe with any of those varieties.
Purple sweet potato: Has purple skin and a similar purple inside. Originally from Mexico, it is now produced mostly in China. It is known to aid in the prevention of vascular disease and diabetes
Red sweet potato: Has red skin and is white inside, and is an excellent source of vitamin C, B6, and E. Its beta carotene is believed to be helpful in reducing the risk of cancer.
White sweet potato: Has a light or cream color inside and out. It is easily digestible but is not as sweet as other varieties. It is a good source of vitamins C, B2, B6, and E. In addition, it provides dietary fiber, potassium, copper, manganese, and iron.
Yellow sweet potato: This is the variety easier to find outside of Mexico. It is one of the sweetest, is yellow on the outside and orange inside, and is a source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as antioxidants and beta-carotene. Its fiber content aids in digestion.
Desserts made from sweet potatoes are delicious and healthy. Choose the sweetness that is most to your liking, add less sugar if you like, and you will still have a marvelous dessert for any meal and occasion.
How To Make Camote Dulce
Start by cleaning well the camotes.
- First, wash them by running them under cold water to remove the dirt.
- Then, use a vegetable brush to scrub thoroughly the dirt that sticks to each piece.
- Next, rinse the potatoes under running cold water to remove loosened dirt.
- Last, pat dry them with paper kitchen towels.
Place camotes into a large pot and add the piloncillo, cinnamon, and anise star. Pour enough water to slightly cover the ingredients.
Bring the water to a boil and cook for 10 minutes stirring from time to time to allow the piloncillo to dissolve well.
Set the heat to low and simmer for 50 minutes, making sure you bathe the sweet potatoes every now and then with the piloncillo cooking water.
The camote dulce recipe will be ready when there’s only about 20% of the liquid left, a thick syrup has been created and coats nicely the tender potatoes.
Allow the camotes enmielados to cool down to room temperature and serve as suggested below.
- You can cut the potatoes into 2 inch round pieces if you want. Just take in mind that they will cook faster, so might need to remove them and allow the syrup to thicken separately.
- Do not cover the pot as you want all the water to evaporate to make the thick syrup.
- During the cooking of camote en dulce, do not stir, as you don’t want the potatoes to fall apart but want them to keep their form.
How To Serve
Camote en dulce can be served for breakfast or merienda with a glass of milk which helps to balance the sweetness of this dish.
Another way of serving these Mexican candied sweet potatoes is as dessert. Place the potatoes on each plate sliced, and then drizzle on top with the delicious earthy syrup.
- Store the camote en dulce leftovers in an airtight container and place them in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Got some syrup leftover? Use it to drizzle over pancakes or waffles or use it for serving with corn ice cream or pumpkin tamales.
Watch How To Make It
More Mexican Sweet Treats
- Calabaza en Tacha – Mexican candied pumpkin.
- Mazapan – Peanut crumbly candy made with only 2 ingredients.
- Pumpkin empanadas – Hearty sweet empanadas with a soft filling made with pumpkin and spices.
Camote en Dulce (Mexican candied sweet potatoes)
- 5 sweet potatoes (about 1.5 lb total)
- 8.5 oz piloncillo (or packed brown sugar)
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 anise star
- water (as needed)
- Put camotes into a large pot and add the piloncillo, cinnamon, and anise star.
- Pour enough water to slightly cover all ingredients.
- Bring the water to a boil and allow to cook for 10 minutes stirring from time to time until piloncillo dissolves.
- Set heat to low and simmer for 50 minutes, making sure you bathe the sweet potatoes every now and then with the piloncillo cooking water.
- Once camotes are fork tender and a thick syrup has been created turn off the heat.
- Allow to slightly cool and serve.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.