Sweet, creamy and delicious, this sweet beans cream or habichuelas con dulce is the most popular dessert in the Dominican Republic during Lent.
Sweet beans cream or habichuelas con dulce is a popular dessert in the Dominican Republic, made most often during Lent. The dessert is usually made in very large quantities and shared among relatives and friends. I’ve seen people that make enough of this stuff to feed their neighborhoods and they usually do share it with the entire neighborhood.
Dominicans are very friendly people. In most neighborhoods and small towns outside of the city, people always know each other and they love to share food. I remember growing up at my grandmother’s house how she would always cook extra food at lunchtime, just in case anyone came by unannounced. And by anyone, I mean anyone, even the messenger that came every month to bring the money my mom had sent from the United States or the delivery guy from the colmado (grocery store), who came to bring the bread or soda we ordered (Yes, in DR small grocery stores offer home delivery). If it was lunch time, she would ask them, “Did you eat yet? …Come have some lunch before you go back to work.” A sweet woman my abuela. She seemed tough, like many old school Latina grandmas, but in reality, she was very sweet.
I grew up watching my grandmother, my mother and my aunts make this dessert every year during this time of the year. When I moved to New York and came to live with my mom, I was surprised at how my mom would still make this dessert during Lent just for the two of us. She would still make a little extra to bring to her coworkers. It was nice seeing how my really tough mama had those same sweet giving gestures she most likely acquired from grandma.
Many Dominican restaurants around New York City also make the delicious dessert and sell it warm in small foam coffee cups. I have seen quite a number of people take early breaks from work just so that they can go and get their hands on one of those small cups before it runs out. It’s really amazing the things people would do to maintain their customs and traditions even in a foreign country. Take me for example, I started this blog to help me learn more about Latin cooking, mostly Dominican cuisine, and share what I learn with those who like me needed the help of the internet. 🙂 But mostly, to cook more dishes reflective of my culture and teach it to my kids.
This is a dessert that my kids had never even heard of until the day I made it. I got the opportunity to teach them what it was and what it represents back in DR. Not only did they learn something new but they tried a delicious new food and they truly enjoyed it. I’m sure you will too.
Sweet Beans Dessert ~ Habichuelas con Dulce
- 4 cups pinto beans, cooked
- 7 cups water in which the beans had boiled in
- 13.5 oz can coconut milk (13.5 oz)
- 24 oz evaporated milk (2 cans)
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 pound batata, cubed
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 10 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Small milk round crackers
- Soak dry red beans in water over night. The next day discard water in beans. Boiled beans in a pot of water until cooked.
- Blend together the 4 cups of red beans and water. If necessary, add more water. Strain and set aside.
- In a pot put together the beans, the coconut milk and the evaporated milk over medium heat.
- Add the sugar, salt, raisins and batata. Let boil over medium heat for about ten minutes.
- Add the cinnamon sticks and cloves. Stir occasionally.
- Let boil until it reduces to about 3/4. Turn heat off and let cool.
- Place it in the refrigerator until it is cold, add the crackers when ready to eat.
*This post was originally posted in April 2012. Photos have been updated.