dreaming of doce de batata roxa

by Stevie on March 5, 2010

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mmmm! I love this thing!

I love roadside snacks almost anywhere. In the American Southwest I chomp on Cornuts. In Virginia or at the movies, nothing is better than cherry Twizzlers. When I took a three week tour of China about fifteen years ago, the other members of our little tour group started calling me “snack man” because I would buy anything and everything from little hole-in-the-wall shops to nibble. Brazil is no different. There they’ve got a lot of “rustic” sweets made from pumpkin, peanuts, coconut or sweet potatoes. I particularly adore the doce de batata roxa, or “purple potato sweet.”

On our recent visit to attend Hegui’s nephew’s graduation from engineering school (congratulations, Neto!), we stopped to refuel and stretch our legs a bit at this large market/restaurant/bar/gas station/rest stop. Inside they had an extensive array of homemade sweets, including doce de batata roxa. I was in heaven!

You can see me in the pic devouring my sweet right outside the store in the parking lot. These candies are typically either log-shaped or come in lumpy, freeform disks. The color is always dark purple. When you bite into the better ones there’s a chewy, almost crunchy outer shell hiding a soft, creamy interior. It tastes very sweet, a little like sweet potato, and sometimes coconut-y.

Brazilian roadside sweets including doce de batata roxa

I wanted to reproduce the magical dessert here at home, so looked around online for some recipes to try. Most of them were for a pudding made of sweet potato rather than the firmer candy. Finally I discovered one recipe that added gelatin to make the sweet into bars that could be individually cut and served. I had to improvise a bit as I can’t find sweet purple potatoes. I used the red ones instead. Mine didn’t quite turn out as I had hoped. It tastes wonderfully. That’s not it. The problem is that it didn’t firm up enough to cut. So it was sweet potato pudding after all.

Sweet Potato Pudding

3 lbs sweet potatoes (about four medium sized ones)
2 cups sugar
2 whole cloves
¼ cup light coconut milk
6 g. Gelatin
some water for gelatin
brown sugar as garnish

Clean sweet potatoes and put in a large pot. Cover potatoes with water and heat to boiling then simmer for about half an hour to cook potatoes and soften skin. Test them with a fork for doneness. Remove when soft.

sweet potatoes

Drain and rinse to cool. Peel off and discard skin (I did this by hand as it was quite easy). Throw into food processor and process a few minutes until smooth.

Put potato purée, sugar, coconut milk and cloves in medium sauce pan over high heat. Once it heats up to boiling, lower heat to simmer. Stir with wooden spoon to prevent sticking. Cook about an hour until it glistens.

Dissolve gelatin in some cold water for a minute. Pour half a cup boiling water over gelatin and stir until fully dissolved, about five minutes.

Mix gelatin into potato. Pour into a baking dish and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Here’s where my recipe diverged. The original says that you “Corte o doce em quadrados ou em losangos e role no açúcar cristal um pouco antes de server,”or ‘Cut into squares or lozenges and roll in crystallized sugar before serving.’ Ah, if only it had been so easy!

sweet potato pudding

I ended up serving mine in a bowl sprinkled with brown sugar and ate it with a spoon. It has a very intriguing flavor from the clove and coconut milk: really quite good and better than pumpkin pie filling. Nevertheless, if you know a reliable recipe for the bars, please send it to me!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

madhura March 5, 2010 at 7:34 am

looks interesting….

Pam March 5, 2010 at 10:36 am

I really like your blog…pretty cool!


tasteofbeirut March 5, 2010 at 10:16 am

Stevie! You got me on a challenge here! I am thinking maybe agar-agar would work better or to cook it like we do in Lebanon with a starch; this method is used for “khabeesa” which cuts like a loukoum.
Hey, I noticed on the top shelf some kadaifi dough, looks totally mid-eastern. what are those?

Heguiberto March 5, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Hi Pam,
I am glad you find it entertaining. Please do come back. The egg sandwich recipe you posted the other day on your blog looks incredible. I have not had eggs sandwiches in a while 🙂

Stevie March 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Thanks for your suggestions! I do want to try this again.

You’re right about the other treat in the case. I had to consult with Heguiberto on it. Apparently it’s made with some sort of filo, nuts, honey and rose water. The names in Portuguese sound a little like racial profiling to me but here it is: ‘doce de macarão e nozes’, ninho de pássaro ‘osh el bobol’ but most of the time they’re just called ‘doces árabes’ (Arabia), ‘doces sírios’ (Syria) or ‘doces libaneses’ (Lebanon).

I understand that Brazil has a large population of folks that immigrated from Lebanon. There are lots of foods there that seem to be Lebanese in origin.

Rob(yn) March 5, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Really liked your blog. Good stuff. Have a nice weekend.

Heguiberto March 6, 2010 at 9:43 am

Thanks Rob(yn). Come back again soon!

Devaki @ weavethousandflavors January 18, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Oh I remember you talking about these Stevie and that pic of the Brazilian sweet potatoes is wonderful. BTW the pudding looks wonderful too and the fact that it’s made with coconut milk is lovely. I know that we’re going to love it especially since hubby is sweet potato crazy!

hugs! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

PS – Working on a posole especially for you! Will keep you posted.
Devaki @ weavethousandflavors recently posted..Rise of the Souffle ~ Horseradish Cheddar SouffleMy Profile

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