Camotitos Potosinos (Sweet Potatoes and Guavas in Syrup)

These sweet potatoes and guavas are simmered in clay ollas for the fiesta of San Francisco de Asis in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Enjoy them as a wonderful, healthful dessert (with or without ice cream) or as a syrup for French toast. Yum!

1 pound piloncillo (sugar made from sugar-cane juice that has been boiled and poured into molds; available at Fiesta and other Mexican markets), grated, or light brown sugar
juice of 1 large orange (reserve the peel without the pith)
1 five-inch piece cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican (available at Fiesta and other Mexican markets), cut in 6 to 8 pieces
2 cloves
3 allspice
1/2 pound sugar cane, peeled and cut in 2-inch pieces (optional)
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and rinsed (if using medium or large potatoes, cut in 2- to 3-inch pieces)
1 pound fresh guavas (available in season at Fiesta and other ethnic markets), stemmed, or 1 sixteen-ounce can, syrup drained off

Place the piloncillo or brown sugar, the orange juice, and 1 1/3 cups of water in a 2-quart saucepan or clay cazuela with a lid and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved.

Add the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, reserved orange peel, and sugar cane. Bring to a quick boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Add the sweet potatoes, turning them a few times in the syrup to cover. Continue to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Gently stir in the guavas and continue to simmer for an additional 20 minutes (uncovered for the last 10 minutes). Note: If using canned guava, just heat through over low heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Serve in small bowls or on plates, making sure that the orange peel and cinnamon sticks from the syrup are equally distributed. Serves 6 to 8.

From A Good Mango Is Hard to Find Texas Monthly, April 2002.