Picarones are a doughnut shaped fried dessert made primarily from a squash or sweet potato batter, covered in a type of syrup. The batter (see picture 4) is taken and made into round doughnut shapes and fried (see picture 1). They are fished out of the hot oil by a long pole and left hanging, to drip the excess fat back into the pan (see picture 2). They are then put onto a plate and drizzled with chancaca syrup.
They are ridiculously tasty.
I found out last minute that there was a very small festival in the San Borja district of Lima, at the weekend, celebrating picarones (and other desserts). Of course I had to go, so my boyfriend and I drove down that very same day.
There were a a lot of picarone stands dotted around, amongst other stalls selling locally made desserts, such as pye de limon (lemon meringue pie) and arroz con leche (rice pudding). The festival offered different varieties of picarones and their syrup, aside from the regular batter and chancaca syrup. There were picarones made from potato or quinoa, drizzled with syrups such as mango or higo (fig). There were also amazing hams, cheeses and butter from Cajamarca in the northern highland area of Peru, and tables of different breads.
Meat, cheese, bread, dessert….. Oh happy days!
Now I have to also mention queso helado. Yes, you heard correctly; cheese ice cream.
However, there is no actual cheese in it, just milk. The name definitely does not reflect the flavour or the ingredients. In fact, it has a coconut flavour and is normally topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Very, very delicious. It is made by spinning this ice cream mixture in a rounded kind-of-cone shaped bowl over a lot of blocks of ice (see picture 5). The bowl gets very cold and freezes small amounts of the mixture to the sides of the bowl. These are scraped off and popped into a tub. Voila! Ice cream.