Camote en Dulce, or Mexican candied sweet potatoes, are hearty sweet potatoes stewed in a piloncillo syrup flavored with warm spices. Only a handful of ingredients are needed to make this traditional Mexican dessert.
Mexican Candied Sweet Potatoes Recipe
Even though you can find camotes, or sweet potatoes, year ’round, I really like to cook with them when they are in-season. In Latin American countries they also know as boniato or batata.
November is actually sweet potato month so that is why you see so many sweet potato recipes around this time. They are harvested from August and on into November.
November is the perfect time for this sweet potato dish because it is often served around Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead which begins on 1 November and ends on 2 November every year.
This recipe makes the perfect side dish for the holiday season. They are fancy enough to make for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but can be served as a dessert or breakfast.
Even though they are called candied sweet potatoes, these are not the same candied yams that are made with marshmallows and brown sugar for a holiday dinner in North America.
These camotes get cooked with aromatic spices while the piloncillo dissolves into a warm sweet syrup.
What is Camote en Dulce?
Camote en dulce, or Mexican sweet potatoes in syrup, is a dessert in Mexican cuisine that is full of flavor. It is also be known as camotes enmielados, which is honeyed sweet potatoes.
Both recipes are made the same, which is simmering sweet potatoes in a sweet piloncillo sauce that has different spices added in like star anise and Mexican cinnamon sticks.
Depending on where you are in the country, this dish may be called camotes con piloncillo, camotes enmielados, or dulce de camote.
It is a traditional Mexican recipe that is easy to make all year long.
What is Piloncillo?
The sugar that is used in camote en dulce goes by various names. In this recipe it is piloncillo, but may also be called Mexican brown sugar, panela, or panocha. This is the raw form of pure sugar cane. It is pressed into a mold and that is how it gets its unique cone shape.
If you are unable to locate this unrefined sugar at your local grocery store or Latin market, the closest substitute would be to make a similar product out of brown sugar. Brown sugar is just refined white sugar, that’s why it is not the same thing as piloncillo.
To make piloncillo substitute combine 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons of molasses to equate to one 8- to 9-ounce cone.
What Type of Sweet Potatoes to Use?
There are many varieties of sweet potatoes like purple sweet potatoes, white sweet potatoes, and a bunch with orange interiors. The orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are the ones we want to use here.
When I make this recipe, I like to use organic sweet potatoes. They are normally on the smaller side. Large sweet potatoes will also work, but if you have to cut them off they may cook faster than the syrup.
This just means you will need to pull out the potatoes when they are done but continue cooking the liquid for it to thicken. If you keep the large sweet potatoes whole, they may need extra time to cook until tender.
What is the Best Cinnamon to Use?
There are two main types of cinnamon, they are Ceylon cinnamon and cassia cinnamon.
Cassia, also known as Saigon cinnamon, is the most common and what you normally find when you see cinnamon on the grocery store shelves. It has a very thick bark and is the traditional curled cinnamon sticks you see. It has a very strong cinnamon flavor, but also has a higher level of coumarin which if taken in large amounts can cause health issues.
Ceylon cinnamon or Mexican cinnamon is what we are using in this recipe. It has a thin flakey curled bark and a mellow herby flavor.
What can I do with any Leftover Syrup?
If you have eaten all of the sweet potatoes out of the camote en dulce, but still have reserve syrup it can be kept and used later. Use it on fruit, pancakes, waffles, or over ice cream. If you have a favorite way to use it let me know in the comments below.
Camote en Dulce Recipe Ingredients
Here are the key ingredients to make camote enmielado. For the full list of ingredient amounts check out the recipe card at the bottom of this blog post.
- Small Sweet Potatoes: I like to use long thin sweet potatoes not the big, roundish ones. If you can find small ones and they fit in your pot, that is perfect.
- Piloncillo Cone: Piloncillo may also be called panela. You will need one 8 oz piloncillo cone or panela cone.
- Mexican Cinnamon: You will need sticks of cinnamon (rajas de canela).
- Anise: Whole anise stars are easily found at local markets or ordered online.
- Water: Just enough water to cover your ingredients.
How to Make Camote en Dulce
Here are the basic instructions to make this easy recipe for these sweet potato treats. Check out the recipe card for full instructions.
STEP 1: Rinse the camotes in cold water. Make sure to scrub them well to get off any dirt.
STEP 2: Add the sweet potatoes, piloncillo, cinnamon stick, and star anise into a dutch oven or large pot. Add enough water to barely cover the ingredients, the amount depends on the size of your pot.
STEP 3: Bring up to a boil over medium high heat breaking up the piloncillo cone with a wooden spoon if needed. Then, drop the heat down to low.
STEP 4: Simmer sweet potatoes for 45-50 minutes and then check to see how done they are. If the sweet potatoes are cooked through (a fork easily slides into them), pull them out and set aside. Cook the liquid for another 20-30 minutes until it has thickened. If the potatoes aren’t fully cooked, continue cooking them for another 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the syrup has thickened.
NOTE: Keep a close eye on the sauce at the end to make sure it does not burn.
STEP 5: Take off the heat, discard cinnamon sticks and spices. Allow to cool a little before serving.
Recipe Tips & Variations
- Don’t overfill. Make sure not to overfill the pot with too many sweet potatoes.
- Single layer. Keep sweet potatoes in a single layer.
- Add salt. Add a touch of salt to cooked sweet potatoes to bring out the sweet flavor.
- Don’t stir. Once the sweet potatoes have cooked they are going to be delicate, so you don’t want to stir the pot.
- Don’t cover. You want the liquid to evaporate off, so keep the pot uncovered to help it along.
- Raising temperature. If the liquid is taking too long to boil down to a thickened sauce, raise the temperature a little to help cook off the water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use ground cinnamon? I don’t recommend using ground cinnamon. You want the cinnamon bark to flavor the water and sweet potatoes, not eat the cinnamon.
Should I cover the pot during cooking? No, you want the liquid to reduce so you will not need to cover the pot.
Storage Instructions for Camote en Dulce
How to refrigerate camote en dulce? Let sweet potatoes cool and put in an airtight container. They should last 3-5 days in the fridge.
How do you reheat sweet potatoes? Heat sweet potatoes in the microwave until heated through.
Try these other recipes!
- Elotes Mexicanos
- Cheese Enchiladas
- Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Mexican Candy Shot
- Whole Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes
If you’ve tried this camote el dulce recipe, don’t forget to give me a star rating and leave me a comment below in the comment section. I love to hear from people who have made my recipes!
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Camote en Dulce
- 4 small sweet potatoes
- 1 Mexican cinnamon stick
- 8 ounce piloncillo cone
- 1 anise star
- water to slightly cover
- Rinse the camotes in cold water. Make sure to scrub them well to get off any dirt.
- Add the sweet potatoes, piloncillo, cinnamon stick, and star anise into a dutch oven or large pot. Add enough water to barely cover the ingredients, the amount depends on the size of your pot.
- Bring up to a boil over medium high heat breaking up the piloncillo cone with a wooden spoon if needed. Then, drop the heat down to low.
- Simmer sweet potatoes for 45-50 minutes and then check to see how done they are. If the sweet potatoes are cooked through (a fork easily slides into them), pull them out and set aside. Cook the liquid for another 20-30 minutes until it has thickened. If the potatoes aren't fully cooked, continue cooking them for another 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the syrup has thickened. Keep a close eye on the sauce at the end to make sure it does not burn.
- Take off the heat, discard cinnamon sticks and spices. Allow to cool a little before serving.
Did you make this recipe?
Please let me know how it turned out!