These sweet potatoes in their rich and complex spiced syrup make for a very indulgent dessert either for a weeknight or special occasions.
I had a version of these Mexican sweet potatoes (camote enmielado) some time ago at an old school Mexican restaurant during my Chicago years. At first bite, I knew I was experiencing an over the top decadent version of my childhood Southern candied yams. Regarding candied yams, don’t believe the hype, sweet potatoes are actually used in the Southern-style dish.
What is Camote Enmielado?
Camote enmielado is simply a sweet potato dessert dish. It’s very simple to make and only requires a few ingredients to get to the most delectable comfort food. Sweet potatoes are boiled and topped with a spiced syrup that’s also infused with the sweet potato flavor.
- Sweet Potatoes
- Star Anise
- Whiskey (optional)
How to Make Sweet Potatoes in Mexican Syrup
There is really only one step to this dish.
Step 1: Boil and Reduce all the ingredients in a saucepan.
Serve this as dessert for any meal. It’s a fall classic given the flavor profile. Some good vanilla ice cream (Blue Bell for my Texas peeps) works great with this dish. I also like to bottle the leftover syrup and use it to make syrup sandwiches, top pancakes, or sweeten oatmeal.
What are key tips for making candied sweet potato (camote enmielado)?
- Key is making sure the sugar dissolves fully when making the syrup. Be sure to use adequate amounts of water, not only to cook/boil the sweet potatoes but to completely dissolve the sugar which ensures the syrup won’t break down
- It’s likely that sweet potatoes will be done cooking before syrup in finished. If so remove the sweet potatoes and continue cooking the syrup down to remove excess water and reduce syrup to proper consistency
- If you don’t have access to piloncillo (it’s worth the time if you can find it) use brown sugar vs. white as the brown version has some bitterness and more complex flavor with the molasses presence.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Is Camote enmielado different from Candied Yams?
The first most notable difference is the use of different spice ingredients like star anise, plus the piloncillo. After that, the Mexican version is all cooked in one step, using the stove-top vs. Southern candied yams which is baked and includes a few more steps. Lastly, the syrup is baked into candied yams vs. merely being drenched over the sweet potatoes.
What is piloncillo?
Piloncillo may be a mystery ingredient to most, but it is the core to making this dish work. If you’re unfamiliar it is an unrefined Mexican sugar that is made from cane sugar made from boiling and evaporating cane juice. It’s that brown block in the shape of a cone wrapped in plastic you may have seen in the grocery store and wondered what it was.
It puts all sugars – brown, white, molasses, etc. to shame. It is sweet, but not as much as refined sugars and has both smokey and earthy elements like a good dark aged spirit, but also acidic notes that along with the whiskey helps the syrup avoid too sweet territory.
For other sweet potato-based recipes you might dig, check out these:
If you make this camote enmielado recipe please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
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- 1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into 2 inch thick rounds
- 1 medium cone piloncillo or 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 star anise
- 1 medium cinnamon stick
- 1 whole clove
- 1 teaspoon whiskey
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a pot, combine sweet potatoes, 2 cups of water, cinnamon, piloncillo, star anise, clove, whiskey, and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and let cook for about an hour or until sweet potato is very soft and liquid is reduced and thickened
- Serve with syrup spooned over the sweet potato
- If the liquid is still runny when sweet potatoes are cooked, remove the sweet potatoes and continue cooking the liquid until it is reduced to more syrup-like consistency
- Reserve any unused syrup and use on pancakes and waffles or as a glaze for roasted vegetables. It's absolutely addictive.
- Key is making sure the sugar dissolves fully when making the syrup. Be sure to use adequate amounts of water, not only to cook/boil the sweet potatoes but to completely dissolve the sugar which ensures the syrup won't break down
- It's likely that sweet potatoes will be done cooking before syrup in finished. If so remove the sweet potatoes and continue cooking the syrup down to remove excess water and reduce syrup to proper consistency
- If you don't have access to piloncillo (it's worth the time if you can find it) use brown sugar vs. white as the brown version has some bitterness and more complex flavor with the molasses presence.