BRYANNA’S QUICK PICARONE DROPS (Pee-kah-roh-nays) (PERUVIAN PUMPKIN DROP DOUGHNUTS)
Makes 52 drop doughnuts
Traditionally, these are shaped into a ring right in the hot oil, but I just make them as a drop doughnut. It takes some practice to get the dough to fall into the hot oil formed as a ring! (And they are often lopsided!) There are many versions of this treat-- some are made with sweet potato as well as squash. I "veganized" this recipe from an old (1950's) Peruvian cookbook of my mother's. It’s a great Halloween specialty!
1 T. dry active baking yeast (or 2 teaspoons instant yeast)
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. warm water
1 T. cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. crushed anise seed
3 c. unbleached white flour
1 c. beer, at room temp (can be dealcoholized)
1 c. canned pumpkin puree, or cooked, WELL-drained, pureed winter squash, at room temperature
(TIP: hang home-cooked mashed pumpkin or squash over the sink in a jelly-bag or in several layers of cheesecloth until it is as thick as canned pumpkin puree)
2 to 4 c. oil for frying (peanut or canola, preferably)
SYRUP: (This is called "miel de chancaca" in Peru because it is made with raw unbleached sugar called "chancaca". It translates roughly to "honey of brown sugar".)
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. water
3 x 1/2” strip of organic orange peel
(some people also add a cinnamon stick and a couple of whole cloves, but that's up to you!)
In a small cup, dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water. In a large bowl mix the cornmeal, salt, anise seed, 1 c. flour and the beer. Add the dissolved yeast. Mix well. Add pumpkin and remaining flour. Mix to form a soft dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place 2 hours, or cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the fridge 4-12 hours.
To make the syrup, mix the ingredients (including the orange peel) in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and boil gently until a thick syrup forms, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and discard the orange peel.
Heat the oil in a wok or deep pot (you use less oil in a wok), to about 375 degrees F. To test for proper oil temperature, drop a small spoonful of dough into hot oil. If it rises quickly to the surface, it’s hot enough.
Drop tablespoons of dough in the hot oil. Fry until golden. (If they are browning too fast and are raw in the middle, lower the heat a little.) Drain on paper towels.
Serve hot with hot syrup poured over them, on a dessert plate with a fork. Tip: Doughnuts can be kept warm in a 200 degree F oven for up to 1 hour.
To reheat pre-made Picarones, place them on baking sheets in a 350 degree F oven for about 5 minutes.