Have you ever had habichuelas con dulce? Well, then be prepared to be pleasantly surprised by this fantastic Dominican sweet cream of beans. This is a strange combination of ingredients for a dessert, but Dominicans absolutely love this Lenten tradition. You may too!
Why we ❤️ 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 essential part of our culinary DNA, and the flagship dish of the Dominican Lenten season.
What is it?
Habichuelas con dulce is a Dominican dessert made with beans, milk, coconut milk, sweet potatoes (batata), raisins, and spices. The result is a soup-like sweet, creamy dessert that is served with our iconic galletas de leche, and toasted casabe.
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 is 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.
Habichuelas con dulce and ingredients.
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 about the origin and history of habichuelas con dulce. It's a very interesting read.
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 the 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, even without sugar.
- Habas con dulce: Follow the same instructions, but replace the beans with fava beans. These usually have a little grated fresh ginger.
- Other spices: There are many other spices that can be added to the beans, some popular ones are nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, star anise and malagueta.
- Cracker substitutes: If you can't find the classic crackers, any other milk crackers (such as Animal Crackers [Amazon affiliate link]) work just fine. They have the same taste and texture, but different shapes.
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.
If you want to try something fun, I have a recipe for habichuelas con dulce popsicles.
This awesome free recipe contains Amazon affiliate links, we receive a small commission from any purchase you make at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
Habichuelas con Dulce [Recipe + Video] Sweet Cream of Beans
- 4 cup boiled red kidney beans, (or cranberry or pinto beans)
- 6 cup water, from boiling the beans
- 2 cup coconut milk
- 3 cup evaporated milk
- ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 cup sugar , (white, granulated)
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 10 cloves
- ½ pound batata (sweet potato), [0.24 kg], cut into small cubes
- ½ cup raisins
- 8 pieces casabe , (cassava bread), may be omitted
- 2 teaspoons butter , (salted)
- 1 cup milk cookies, (see notes)
- Blending: 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.
- Boiling: Pour the beans, coconut milk, evaporated milk, salt, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and sweet potatoes into a pot.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).
- Chilling: Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Chill before serving.
- Making casabe: Spread butter on the cassava bread and toast in the oven until it turns golden brown.
- Serving: Serve the beans with the cassava on the side. Put cookies in the beans when you serve.
Tips and Notes
Cookie substituteNo milk cookies? Use Animal Crackers (Amazon affiliate link). They are nearly identical in taste and texture to the traditional ones, only in different shapes.
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutrition information.
More beans recipes
Habichuelas (beans) are a staple of Dominican cooking, and we have a lot of bean recipes that we love. Habichuelas guisadas (Dominican stewed beans) and moro de habichuelas (rice and beans) are probably the most popular.
Habichuela con dulce is a traditional Dominican Lenten dessert made with beans, milk, spices, and other ingredients. It's served chilled with traditional cookies embossed with a cross in the center.
Kept in the refrigerator, habichuelas will last 2-3 days. It will start to ferment after that. You can freeze it for a couple of months and thaw it in the fridge for 24 hours.