These sweet potato biscuits are one of the most famous Portuguese winter treats. They are indispensable at a Christmas table and can be seen in all pastry shops as soon as the temperatures drop. They are known as Broas Castelar because they were created by the Castelar brothers in their pastry shop in my hometown Lisbon. They are sweet, with a perfect balance of crisp outside and soft in the middle, giving you a chewy and very aromatic bite. Although they require some continuous stirring and some patience (or fun, as I like to call it), these biscuits are incredibly delicious and will hit the spot if you are craving an autumnal sweet treat.
Preparation Time: 15-20 min | Cooking Time: 15 min | Cooling Time: 2h | Serves: About 30 biscuits
What you’ll need:
- About 400g of mashed sweet potatoes
- A pinch of salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 700g sugar
- 150 ground almonds
- Zest of one orange
- 150g cornflour
- 80g all-purpose flour
- 50g desiccated coconut
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 egg, beaten, for brushing
- 2 egg yolks, beaten, for brushing
- Start by boiling your diced sweet potatoes with a pinch of salt. Once they are soft, drain them and mash them.
- Combine the sugar and honey with the mashed sweet potatoes in a large pot and stir everything together in medium heat. It might feel like it’s too much sugar at this point, but keep stirring for a bit until everything is combined and the sugar has melted. Once it starts to boil, remove from the heat.
- Now add the almond, the orange zest, the coconut, the eggs and the cinnamon. Combine everything together and then add both flours.
- Take the pot back into the stove and keep stirring under medium heat until this mixture turns into a ball and doesn’t stick to the pot anymore. It takes a bit, but be patient and keep stirring, it will be worth it.
- Once the mixture is done, transfer it to a tray and cover it with cling film. Let this cool completely in the fridge for a couple of hours or so. You will need the dough to be completely cool so you can shape the biscuits in their traditional boat shape.
- Now that your mixture is cool, preheat the oven to 200ºC. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and start shaping your biscuits. You can use a regular spoon to scoop a bit of the dough, then use your hands to make boat shapes.
- Brush them with the beaten egg and let them sit for about 3 or 4 minutes, then brush it again with the beaten egg yolk. This will create the traditional crispy top that gets nice and golden.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until they are golden. Let it cool down completely before you eat them, so they harden a bit outside.