It has always surprised us that of all our recipes, Habichuelas con Dulce is the most popular. This is a strange combination of ingredients for a dessert, but Dominicans love it!
For some foreigners, Habichuelas con Dulce might be the answer to the question "what's the most unusual sweet you've ever eaten?", but we Dominicans love it and never seem to have enough of it.
This sweet cream of beans is an important part of our culinary DNA, and the flagship dish of the Dominican Lenten season.
Amongst the many versions of Habichuelas con Dulce found in Dominican homes, we can also find an Habas con Dulce version (Sweet Cream of Butter Beans), which seems very popular in the Southwest, as well as the habichuelas blancas (navy beans) version which some people seem to favor. And for extra strangeness, there is guandules (pigeon peas) con dulce! This dish is a traditional cocolo dish, and not widely spread.
There are also many combinations of spices, most commonly cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Other people may add one or a combination of ginger, star anise, cardamom, allspice, etc. Read the comments and you will see how many different touches our readers have added to it.
Where did it come from?
Unlike most of our dishes, there isn't an equivalent in other countries that we've found (although bean-based desserts are known in some countries).
In short, we have no definitive answer yet, but you can see where Aunt Ilana's investigation led us. It's a very interesting read.
About our recipe
It shouldn't need to be said, but I'd be remiss if I didn't: 11 million Dominicans can't agree on the exact same recipe for Habichuelas con Dulce. And thank goodness for that, we can enjoy ours as well as neighbors', friends' and relatives'. It's also a very forgiving dish that even the beginner cook can make well, and hey! any error can be explained as just your style.
This is my family version, the one I grew up with. Please let us know in the comments how your family makes it. We love to learn about your own family traditions.
Because I grew up with a diabetic mother, and have been around an assortment of picky eaters and people with unusual diets, I've tested many versions, and I share them with you.
If you're lactose intolerant, you can use almond, rice or soy milk instead of milk.
See above. Toast the cassava bread (casabe) with oil of your preference.
Use skim milk if you are counting calories. You can use your sweetener of choice in lieu of sugar. Just cook everything without the sugar and add the sweetener as the last step.
Low-Carb, and diabetics
My mom, a diabetic, made hers with Splenda / sucralose and they tasted just fine. Use the sweetener of your choice instead of sugar. Just cook everything without the sugar and add the sweetener as the last step, as some sweeteners do not do well heated, and it's hard to gauge how much you'll need to add in the end.
If like many people, you get heartburn from eating sweet potatoes, don't sweat it, just don't add them.
Keto or LCHF
This is not a keto or LCHF friendly dish though, even without sugar.
Habichuelas con Dulce Recipe (Sweet Cream of Beans)
- 4 cups soft-boiled red kidney beans (or cranberry or pinto beans)
- 6 cups water from boiling the beans
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 3 cups evaporated milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 10 cloves
- 1/2 lb sweet potatoes (batata) [0.24 kg], cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 8 pieces cassava bread (casabe), may be omitted
- 1 cup milk cookies (see notes)
- 2 tsp butter (salted)
- Put the beans (and the water in which they boiled) in a blender and puree. Strain the beans to get rid of the skins and undissolved solids. Pour the beans, coconut milk, evaporated milk, salt, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and sweet potatoes and simmer over very low heat until the sweet potatoes are cooked through. Stir regularly to avoid sticking.
- Add the raisins and simmer for another 10 minutes (don't worry that it may look too thin, the cream of beans will get much thicker when chilled). Remove the cinnamon sticks (and cloves, if you like). Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Chill before serving.
- Spread butter on the cassava bread and toast in the oven until it turns golden brown.
- Serve the beans with the cassava on the side. Put cookies in the beans when you serve.