Sweet potato pone (Belize)

Belize is a tiny country located in Central America, neighbouring Mexico and Guatemala. According to Wikipedia Belizeans eat a lot of chicken and fish, as well as the traditional Latin American staples like beans, cassava, bananas, plantains and coconut.

“I had no idea Belizean cuisine even existed”, said a friend when I mentioned this dessert. Well, it seems like there’s pretty much only one dish with a recipe that can be located online, but luckily it’s a pretty good one. I like ginger and sweet potatoes, so I was instantly sold, even though I don’t usually like things with heavy coconut flavour.

I used this recipe, but I cut down on the ginger (and a little on the sugar) because the amount (2 oz or 55 grams!) seemed so excessive. That was definitely a good thing, as the ginger was still quite dominant. Later I found a recipe with even less ginger.

I made the dish in a metal baking dish and one portion in a ramekin, simply so that I could get better pictures. I put raisins in the ramekin, but not in the larger dishes, because my boyfriend doesn’t like them.

Only after I had already put it in the oven I realized I probably should have reduced the amount of liquid slightly, because some of it is absorbed in the raisins. The ramekin was done in 30+45 minutes, as I expected (might have been a little earlier), but the larger dish actually took more like 30+120 minutes before it had set, even though I upped the temperature at some point!

Anyway, both dishes were tasty (incredibly rich, as you might guess), but the one without the raisins did not have such a nice, crispy caramelized crust as the ramekin (but obviously it was smaller too, so liquid evaporates more quickly).

You could replace some of the coconut milk with a plant-based cream. Some other recipes I saw used a combination of evaporated milk and coconut milk. I’ve used homemade cashew cream in place of evaporated milk before.

Sweet potato pone

Sweet potato pone

1 lb/450 g sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
0.5-1 oz/15-30 g grated fresh ginger
0.5 cup/1.2 dl raisins
0.5-1 tsp cinnamon
0.8 cups/1.9 dl brown sugar
1-2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups/4.8 dl coconut milk
1 tbsp margarine

Grease a 9×13 baking dish (or even better, cover it with baking parchment to save on dishes!). Heat oven to 450F/225C. Peel the sweet potato and grate it. Add the ginger, raisins, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla. Melt the margarine, add to the coconut milk and stir this mixture into the sweet potato mixture.

Pour into the prepared dish. Bake for 30 minutes near the bottom of the oven. Lower temperature to 350F/175C, move the dish to the top part of your oven and bake for another 60 minutes (see notes). The dish is done when it looks set and preferably has formed a little “crust”. If it looks like a stew, bake it some more. Serve hot, perhaps with some vanilla sauce.

This recipe makes 6-8 portions. If you were to make it all in ramekins, I’d recommend halving the recipe and making four ramekins (though I can’t guarantee it will all fit in – don’t fill them too full, as it bubbles quite a bit before shrinking down, as you can see in the picture).

P.S. I’m hoping to get to colorful foods soon, things that aren’t just brownish mush. ;->

6 Responses to “Sweet potato pone (Belize)”

  1. 1

    Sounds very gingery but good! I love sweet potato but have never really used as a main ingredient in desserts.This must be very nice.

  2. 2

    Really interesting recipe – I’ll definitely be giving this one a go.

  3. […] sweet potatoes, vanilla, coconut and cinnamon (which curiously are the main ingredients in the Belizean sweet potato pone featured in Vegventures several months ago). The cuisine, luckily, has not been influenced too much […]

  4. 4
    diana curiel

    I love sweet potato pone very much from growing back home in Belize.
    I love the way how the Garifuna community make it soooooo yummy.

    Diana from Curacao

  5. 5

    I’m a Belizean who loves out pone… But just as a side note to everyone.
    The sweet potato we use is the WHITE SWEET POTATO
    The white potato is considered to be sweeter than the orange sweet potato.
    milder n flavor Boniato = tropical sweet potato

  6. 6

    Thank you for adding that information! When I cooked this dish I still lived in Finland where white sweet potato is harder to find and a lot more expensive. Here in the Netherlands it is just as easy (if not easier) to get than the orange variety and often even cheaper, so nowadays I tend to use it for cooking desserts.

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