Easter holidays are a time filled of traditions everywhere around the world. I personally find it fascinating how basically the same holiday can be celebrated in so many different ways by different people in different places, but one thing remains the same everywhere: those staple foods inherent to this special time of the year, that bring family and friends together around the table. Whether it is dyed boiled eggs in North America, hot cross buns in the UK, lamb for the Jewish, or pancakes in Russia (prior to Easter), to name a few, each region in the world has their own special Easter delicacies. This dish is one of those.
Sweet cream of beans is a traditional Lent and Easter time dessert from the Dominican Republic. It is usually prepare in big quantities, as it is meant to be shared with family members, relatives, neighbors and even colleagues. Every household has its own way of preparing it, but in essence it is a sweet cream made with red kidney beans, different types of milks, including coconut milk, spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and sweet potatoes.
I know that for anyone who has not tried this, it would probably sound like a very odd combination of ingredients, but there is a reason why we Dominicans can’t have enough of this dish: It is simply delicious!… Well, and perhaps because we get to enjoy it only once a year, but trust me, once you wrap your head around the idea of having beans as a dessert, you will love this! (It tastes similar to pumpkin pie, in a way) So here you have the recipe for this unique delight.
Ingredients (Serves 10):
2½ cups cooked until very soft red kidney beans
2½ cups of water where the beans were cooked in
2 cups evaporated milk
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 medium sweet potato (cooked and mashed*)
¼ – ½ cup brown sugar (start with ¼ and adjust to taste)
¼ cup raisins
2 cinnamon sticks
8 – 10 cloves
¼ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbs. unsalted butter (optional)
Small milk cookies to serve (optional)
Blend the cooked beans and their cooking liquid and strain into a big sauce pan. Add the evaporated milk and the coconut milk and bring to a gentle boil.
Lower the heat and add the rest of ingredients, except for the cookies.
Stir well, making sure to mix and combine the mashed sweet potatoes, so there wont be any big lumps.
Cook until it has thickened and reduced its volume by ¼, stirring frequently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. It should take about 1 hour.
Adjust the sugar if necessary.
Serve warm or cold, with the cookies on top.
It can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days.
*Note: the original way of adding the sweet potatoes is cut into small cubes (cooked), but I prefer the mashed method, since the result is a smoother cream, therefore a nicer texture, in my opinion. Also, there is a specific type of cookies which are used as a topping for this dessert, but they don’t have those here in Canada, so I used the Teddy bear graham cookies you see on the picture.
Enjoy and Happy Easter!