Dulce de Camote

African-American families in the South have baked sweet potato pie for generations. Sweet potatoes are native to the Americas and slaves in North and South America replaced the familiar West African yam with sweet potato in their recipes. In Peru, sweet potato is called “camote,” and it’s popular in sweet and savory dishes. Afro-Peruvian singer Lucila Campos gives the sweet potato musicality in “Saca Camote con el Pie.” The song’s chorus means, “to remove the [buried] sweet potato with your feet,” but it’s really about dancing, about celebrating life, and the lyrics are an allegory to an energetic foot stomping dance. Modern Afro-Peruvian band Novamila fuses traditional Black rhythms with electronica in an updated version of “Camote.” In this sweet potato pudding, soy milk makes it vegan while cinnamon and cloves add spice. Sweet vermouth gives it a boozy aromatic hit. Colorful sprinkles complete the creamy mash.

Dulce de Camote / Sweet Potato Pudding

Serves 8

  • 1 pound sweet potato (orange Garnet), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ cup soy milk
  • ½ cup raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons sweet vermouth
  • sprinkles, for garnish

In a 2-quart pot over medium heat, combine the sweet potato, cinnamon, cloves, and water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sweet potato is fork tender, about 20 minutes.

Strain the sweet potato and transfer to a bowl. Compost the cinnamon and cloves.
Use a fork to mash the sweet potato into a soft purée. Return the mashed sweet potato to the pot.

Mix in the milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. Bring to a simmer, and stir to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the vermouth, and continue to stir another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Serve in small ramekins and decorate with sprinkles.