I’ll never forget the first time I tasted fresh pumpkin (without it being so over processed). My experience took place in a fabulous country: Mexico. As I looked inside my clay bowl, those chunks of pumpkin didn’t look that appealing.
However, Mexicans have a way of transforming boring, bland pumpkin into a treat by cooking it in sugar syrup made with water and piloncillo (this is natural brown cane sugar). And, those exotic cinnamon sticks are added to the boil.
Yup! Just three ingredients are needed here to satisfy my big sweet tooth!
Prep time: 40 to 50 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8
3 cups cold water
2 piloncillo cones* (Mexican natural brown cane sugar)
2 cinnamon sticks, cut in half
Dash ground cinnamon
One 2-pound fresh pumpkin
Make the sugar syrup:
1. In a 2-quart sauce pot, combine the water, piloncillo cones, cinnamon sticks and dash ground cinnamon
2. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 to 8 minutes or until the sugar melts down. Set aside, uncovered, to cool.
3. Meanwhile, cut the pumpkin in fourths. Remove and discard the stem, seeds and fibers. Peel the pumpkin (this is optional, since it is left unpeeled when this recipe is prepared in Mexico).
4. Cut pumpkin into 3-inch chunks; transfer pumpkin chunks to a 6 to 8-quart saucepot.
5. Pour the sugar syrup over the pumpkin in sauce pot. Cover and bring to a boil.
6. Cook on medium-high heat for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork-tender.
7. Cool and serve Mexican Pumpkin Treat warm or, alternatively, refrigerate a day ahead and serve cold.
*Piloncillo is hardened, natural brown sugar shaped in cones. The cones measure about 5 inches and can be found in Latin American supermarkets or grocery stores.
Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real