When you think of sweet potato, Portugal is probably not the first country to come to your mind. But the fact is, we’ve eaten it for a long time and, actually, we grow one of the best types (if not the best type) of sweet potato in the world. In Portugal sweet potato is sometimes eaten as a snack in Autumn and Winter, alongside with chestnuts. It is also one of those food items that used to be considered “poor man’s food” until recently, when they started being seen for all the health benefits they bring. These days, there’s even a festival dedicated to sweet potato! And where is that? In Aljezur, home to the best sweet potato in Portugal and, so it seems, among the best in the world.
Today, and just in time for Christmas, I’m bringing you a recipe from Aljezur for sweet potato pastries. It’s a traditional recipe with a few modern (and personal) tweaks. I also chose this recipe because it uses two of the most common flavorings in traditional Portuguese cuisine (where sweets are concerned): lemon and cinnamon.
500 gr cooked and puréed sweet potato
300 gr sugar
Powdered cinnamon to taste
50 ml water
In a pan mix the sugar, the lemon zest, the cinnamon and the water. Bring this to a boil until it reaches something in between 112°C and 116°C (aka, soft ball stage). The whole thing will triple in size and become a hot bubbling sugary mess, so choose your pan wisely.
Add the sweet potato purée and mix it thoroughly to avoid any lumps. Let it cool down a little and either use it to make pastries or pour it into small bowls/serving cups.
I used store bought puff pastry because: a) the original recipe used a type of dough which had to rest for 4 to 6 hours and then be deep fried; b) life’s too short to make your own puff pastry.
I suggest you enjoy these lovelies with a glass of Portuguese bitter almond liqueur, aka, amarguinha or amêndoa amarga, traditional to the Algarve. You can drink this either at room temperature or cold – but you can also try my favorite version: cold with a few drops of lemon juice.
The blog will go on a much needed and deserved vacation until the beginning of January. I wish everyone a merry Christmas and a wonderful new year or, as we say in Portuguese: Feliz Natal e bom ano novo! 🙂