Mexican Candied Pumpkin

November 1, 2011

Mexican candied pumpkin or calabaza en tacha is a sweet treat prepared to celebrate Day of the Dead.  This holiday honors the deceased by assembling a shrine with their favorite foods, flowers, and other articles that a person liked when they were living.  The pumpkin is cooked in a sugar syrup with spices until soft.  The complex flavored flesh is delicate and melts in your mouth.  Serve the pieces of candied pumpkin with crema de leche (a Mexican cream) and a drizzle of the syrup.  This fabulous dessert is not to be missed.

Mexican Candied Pumpkin


1 medium pumpkin, about 5 pounds
8 cups water
1 1/2 pounds piloncillo/panela or dark brown sugar, about 4 cups
2 cinnamon sticks, about 3 to 4 inches each
Cut the pumpkin into medium (2½" to 3" squares or triangles) pieces, keeping on the rind. Remove seeds and strings.
Put the sugar in a pan with the cinnamon, orange juice, and water. Bring to a boil and stir until the piloncillo has dissolved.
Place the first layer of pieces of pumpkin upside down so they absorb as much juice as possible. The second layer should be with the pulp upwards. Cover and simmer. When ready the top of the pumpkin pieces should look somewhat glazed, and the pulp soft and golden brown.
Let cool and have pumpkin sit in the syrup for a couple of hours. Serve with the syrup and cream.

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