One of my favorite desserts growing up was habichuelas con dulce. Although it almost sounds like a contradiction, this creamy bean dessert is heavenly, and for some, it can be an acquired taste. I think this is the most Dominican recipe you will ever find because I don’t believe ever seeing or hearing of another like it in Latin America or Spain.
It’s origins, like most foods in the new world, is a combination of ingredients from different places. The sweet potato is from the indigenous Taino from the island, beans and spices are a contribution from the Spanish, and the coconut milk is the influence of African people.
Habichuelas con dulce is an especially popular dessert during the season of Lent and Easter. Recipes vary from family to family but they are all usually garnished with milk cookies or with casabe – a flatbread made of yucca (casaba root) flour. Since they are hard to find, I had to create my own milk cookie recipe.
This recipe is made in large quantities. Since my husband and kids haven’t acquired a taste for this recipe, it’s perfect for me to share with family, neighbors, and friends.
How-to video: sweet cream of beans -habicuenlas con dulce
- 1 pound of red kidney beans (you can also use small kidney or pinto beans)
- 1 can of evaporated milk
- 1 can of sweeten condensed milk
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 2 large cinnamon sticks
- 10 sweet cloves
- ¼ tablespoon of grated ginger
- ¼ tablespoon of grated nutmeg
- ½ tablespoon of salt
- ½ cup of sugar (as needed)
- Vanilla (optional)
- 1 large sweet potato (batata) cubed. Feel free to add more if you like.
- Raisins (optional)
- Small milk cookies (optional)
There are two ways you can prepare the beans. The most traditional way is to soak the beans in water overnight. Next morning wash and discard the water. Cook in a heavy bottom pot at medium-high heat with plenty of water until they are soft and tender. Add water if they start to dry while cooking.
Since I’m not that patient, I prefer to use a pressure cooker. It only takes about 20 to 25 minutes to soften your beans (depending on your pressure cooker).
Once the beans as softened, let them sit until cooled. Put half the bean water and the beans through a blender until liquefied. Strain the liquid through a large strainer and discard the bean remains. Some like to save a bit of the remain to add into the beans later. I prefer mine smooth so I omit this.
Put the beans strained liquid, butter, coconut milk, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk into the pot and bring to a boil. Once it begins to boil add the rest of your ingredients at medium heat for at least 10 minutes. Bring down to a simmer and stir regularly to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the liquid has been reduced by ¾ or half of its original volume, depending on how thick you like it. Let it cool and serve.
It can be served warm or cold with some milk cookies and raisins sprinkled on top. When cold, it will have a thicker consistency.