|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 1g||2%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||1%|
|Total Carbohydrate 157g||57%|
|Dietary Fiber 12g||42%|
|Total Sugars 132g|
|Vitamin C 119mg||595%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
The flavors in this dish are similar to those in candied “yams” or sweet potatoes, but unlike that iconic American Thanksgiving dish, candied pumpkin is not generally served as a side dish. Calabaza en tacha is enjoyed in Mexico as a dessert, snack, or even as breakfast. It is also one of the most common foods placed on family altars for Day of the Dead holiday.
In Mexico, candied pumpkin is usually made with calabaza de Castilla, a rustic, lighter-colored squash with a tough rind, or with a similarly large, very dark green—nearly black—squash. Sometimes holes are drilled in the squash (to allow the steam out and the syrup in) and it is candied whole; at other times, the vegetable is cut into wedges or strips—rind still on—and prepared in large pieces. Feel free to use the bright orange Halloween pumpkin to make this, though, and to cut it into smaller pieces if that seems more manageable.
Regardless of the type of squash you use, don't forget to keep the seeds of it to toast and make pepitas.
"The candied pumpkin was delicious and extremely easy. I couldn't find piloncillo in my area, so I used dark brown sugar. The sweet cinnamon-flavored syrup penetrates the pumpkin pieces. The candied pumpkin was excellent with a scoop of vanilla ice cream." —Diana Rattray
Gather the ingredients.
Cut the stem off of the pumpkin. Cut the pumpkin in half crosswise and scrape out the seeds and stringy parts, saving seeds to make pepitas, if you like.
Leaving the rind on, cut each piece in half lengthwise again and again until you have 8 to 10 long strips of pumpkin. Leave pumpkin in strips or cut it into smaller pieces.
In a large saucepan, bring orange zest and juice, piloncillo or brown sugar, water, and cinnamon sticks to a boil.
Add the pumpkin pieces and reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer until pumpkin is fork tender, about 1 hour. Uncover the pan for the last 20 minutes or so of simmering so the liquid reduces to a glaze.
Remove pan from heat and let cool (the glaze will thicken slightly). Serve at room temperature (one portion is about 1 or 2 long strips or several smaller pieces), spooning a little of the glaze over the pumpkin pieces. Eat with a spoon, leaving the inedible outer pumpkin rind (and any cinnamon sticks) in the dish.
Candied pumpkin is wonderful on its own, but if you’d like to vary it a bit, consider one or more of the following.
- Increase the spice flavors with 1 whole star anise, 2 whole cloves, and 2 allspice berries.
- Add 1 sliced orange for a more pronounced orange flavor.
- Pour a little liquid crema or evaporated milk over each portion. Alternatively, add a dollop of whipped cream.
- Sprinkle a few shelled, toasted, and salted pepitas over the pumpkin.
- Top with a few raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped prunes, pecans, or walnuts.
- Serve the candied pumpkin over vanilla ice cream.
How to Store
- Refrigerate leftover candied calabaza in an airtight container and consume within 5 days.
- Leftover candied pumpkin may be mashed and used in any recipe calling for pumpkin purée, but be sure to reduce the sugar accordingly. Add it to pumpkin pancakes, a pumpkin spice latte, doughnuts, or pumpkin crème brûlée.