Sweet Potatoes in Syrup with Guava

This sweet and citrusy Mexican-style dish can be served as a side or as a dessert.

3 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½" chunks
1 3" stick cinnamon, preferably Mexican canela
1 1" piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
Peel of 1 orange, white pith removed, roughly chopped
4 oz. sugarcane, fresh or canned, cut into 2" lengths (optional)
1 20-oz. can guava wedges in syrup, drained

Heat the sugar, orange juice, and 1/2 cup water in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often, until dissolved, 10 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, cinnamon, ginger, and orange peel; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Remove lid from saucepan, add the sugarcane and guava, and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the liquid is reduced to a syrupy consistency, 30 minutes. Serve warm.