- In a small saucepan, combine the dark brown sugar, 1 cup granulated sugar, cinnamon, chili pepper, and cloves with 1 cup water.
- Simmer over a low flame for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens into a syrup.
- Set aside to cool.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the milk and yeast with 1 tablespoon of sugar and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, or until creamy.
- Stir in the cornstarch and allow to sit a few minutes longer.
- Place the puréed squash or sweet potatoes in a large bowl.
- Add the yeast-cornstarch mixture and blend thoroughly.
- Stir in the flour and salt and continue to stir vigorously to make a runny, soft, well-blended dough.
- Place the mixing bowl in a draft-free place, cover with a dampened cloth of plastic wrap, and let rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.
- Deflate the dough with a wooden spoon.
- The dough should be soft.
- In a deep fryer or heavy saucepan, heat the oil to 325 °F.
- Dip out 1 tbs of the dough and, with another tablespoon, scrape the dough into the hot oil and fry until golden.
- As soon as they are cooked, remove the picarones from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
- To serve, arrange the picarones on a platter and pour the syrup over them.