Last week I spotted a large pile of sweet potatoes in one of the vegetable stalls at the market. I immediately filled a big paper bag with lumpy tubers to make stuffed baked sweet potatoes that evening. While emptying my bag on the kitchen counter I wondered if there is a country where they make cookies from sweet potatoes. And there is! The mbatata cookie is a traditional treat made of sweet potatoes in Zimbabwe. In Sub-Saharan Africa the sweet potato or Ipomoea batatas is an important staple. The nourishing tuber grows well in tropical climates and is used in many different dishes. I was curious and sacrificed one of my baking potatoes to make this pretty yellow mbatata cookie from Zimbabwe. The result is a soft, not too sweet cake-like cookie with a lemony glaze that gives it a nice crunch. When you buy your sweet potatoes, check if they have orange flesh. There is also a white variety that tastes the same but does not give the mbatata cookie from Zimbabwe that warm sunny color.
Mbatata cookie from Zimbabwe
for the cookies
75 grams softened unsalted butter
25 grams sugar
½ loosely beaten egg
zest of ½ organic unwaxed lemon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
30 grams honey
225 grams flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
100 grams sweet potato
for the glaze
200 grams icing sugar
½ teaspoon softened unsalted butter
a few drops of lemon juice
With an electric mixer beat the butter with the sugar until light and creamy.
Beat in the egg, the lemon zest, the nutmeg and the honey.
Mix the flour with the baking powder and the salt.
Using your fingertips rub the flour mixture into the butter mixture until the dough resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Peel and grate the sweet potato.
Mix the grated sweet potato with the crumbly dough.
Bring together into a ball, cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 mins.
Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F. Roll out the dough to about ⅓ inch (¾ cm) and cut out cookies with a cookie cutter. Place them on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper. Bake them in the middle of the oven for about 7 minutes.
Mix the icing sugar with the butter and just enough lemon juice to make a thick glaze. Cover until use.
Take the mbatata cookies out of the oven and leave to cool on a rack. Brush the cooled cookies with the glaze and leave to set.
This post is also available in: Dutch