It’s the Great Pumpkin

Okay, so it’s not quite the great pumpkin. It’s more like a tiny pumpkin. But if Mr. N and Miss A have taught us anything it’s that great things can come in tiny packages. 

Our cooking experience with Ecuador has taught us some helpful child rearing techniques. First we learned that serving popcorn with dinner is a way to ward off any complaints about dinner – even one that includes their least favorite ingredients, tomatoes and onions. We also learned that the quickest way to stop a three-year old’s tantrum in its tracks is to cut open a pumpkin. 

Our last Ecuadorian recipe on this little culinary tour is a dessert (of course!). We found tonight’s recipe, Dulce de Calabaza, while perusing Laylita’s Recipes and thought it sounded both fun and seasonal. The first step in the sweet pumpkin dessert is to remove the seeds and pulp from the pumpkin. I’m telling you, this step put an instant end to the so-called “witching hour” described by Parents magazine as “when the day’s stresses catch up with the whole family, turning well-mannered children into kidzillas.”

I’m telling you, I’m considering keeping a bin of these in the garage this season! So after the kids took care of gutting the pumpkin, we sliced it in half and then each half into slices.

We then gathered the seasonings. The recipe called for a pound of panela, an unrefined, whole cane sugar. We were fortunate to have found this easily in the Hispanic aisle of our local grocery store, but if unavailable, you can combine brown sugar with molasses for a similar flavor. We opted to use 3/4 of a pound in this case though, a full pound just seemed like a lot to me (not that 3/4 is that much less). We also used cinnamon sticks, all spice and whole cloves.

We tossed the pumpkin slices, seasonings and about 3 cups of water into a stock pot and brought it to a boil over medium heat.

We let the ingredients boil for about 20 minutes and then turned the heat down. The mixture was left simmering for an hour, until the syrup was good and gooey. We then served the warm dulce de calabaza as suggested with a fresh cheese. We opted for one of Miss A’s favorites, fresh mozzarella.

We had a variety of opinions on the dessert. It was definitely sweet. Too sweet for me. I’m only giving this one 2 spoons. I’m all for gooey sweetness, but the texture of this one was a little too much like pumpkin pie for my liking. It’s one of those weird things for me. I love cooked pumpkin (in risotto for instance), pumpkin cake, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin doughnuts, but absolutely not pumpkin pie. So I guess it’s saying something that I found this tolerable. Miss A found it less tolerable, giving this 1 spoon. She wouldn’t even touch the pumpkin, but she did like the cheese.

Mike and Mr. N, on the other hand, both enjoyed this dessert. Mr. N was particularly fond of the pumpkin bites, but he preferred not to dip it in extra syrup. Mike said that it reminded him of candied yams (which he hates about as much as I can’t stand pumpkin pie), but that it tasted like pumpkin instead of yams. So he actually liked it. So the boys came in with 3 spoons.

Despite the dolce de calabaza’s mixed reviews, it did stop a tantrum and provided some really interesting flavors and reactions again teaching us that great and tiny aren’t necessarily opposite.

Print this recipe: Dulce de Calabaza

48 thoughts on “It’s the Great Pumpkin

  1. smartfoodandfit says:

    I love pumpkin and pumpkin pie maybe I’ll try this recipe though I think I’ll be the only one in my family eating it. I’ve been on a huge pumpkin kick and I just used my last can of Libby’s pumpkin. I like it in my oatmeal with stevia to sweeten, just plain and simple.
    I think I need to buy real baby pumpkins to keep my kids busy, looks like fun!


    • Kristy says:

      I’m telling ya Lisa, these little pumpkins are great! They’re not nearly as messy as the big ones and enough to make the kids happy. It’s an added bonus that you can eat them. 🙂 And I love the idea of pumpkin in my oatmeal!


    • Kristy says:

      Thank you so much Kelly!!!! So far today is great – sun is shining (at least for now) and I get to spend my day with Miss A. 🙂 (And not working…yesterday was one of those frustrating days at work and I’m giving it a rest today!!!!) Thanks for thinking of me. You put a smile on my face.


  2. Caroline says:

    Though it wasn’t a family favorite, I still think this looks like a great recipe. I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I’m right there with ya on the pumpkin pie. I’m not a huge fan either…I think it’s the texture. Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s the texture, because I love pumpkin otherwise!


  3. ChgoJohn says:

    This is a completely new dish for me and, like you, I think it may too sweet for me. Still, any kind of activity that will help to tame the “kidziallas” in one’s home has got to be considered an unqualified success.


  4. Stefanie says:

    Another interesting dish from Ecuador! I’ve never seen a recipe where you keep the pumpkin in slices instead of mashing it or cubing it. Made for a beautiful presentation! And yay for finding something to calm your adorable children 🙂


  5. kitchenbelleicious says:

    Oh girl, so interesting and amazing. I can just imagine how wonderful your house smelled with all those flavors- the cinnamon, the pumpkin. It is to much for me to handle right now. for some reason now I want a pumpkin latte from starbucks! LOL! This is simple an amazing recipe, thanks for sharing


  6. spicegirlfla says:

    How very interesting this was received by everyone. In reading the recipe it sounded like it would be awesome..tho a bit too much sugar for me. I like the idea behind the making of this with the cinnamon and slowly simmering. I’m not giving up on this as I think it holds alot of potential for a wonderful, different dessert!


  7. Kelly says:

    Wow, this dessert looks fantastic! But first off, and I know I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll repeat myself if I must: can I adopt your children?? That said, it would be cool to experiment with using a quarter cup of panela to see how you like the sweetness. I personally love pumpkin pie so this sounds wonderful to me. (I was wondering, at first, why the ‘ice cream’ wasn’t melting with all that delightful heat :)). Funny what you say about keeping back-up pumpkins on hand – a while back, my nephew arrived at a family party with a bunch of pumpkins as an activity to amuse the kids. Well, he was instantly everyone’s favourite uncle! It’s the eve of your birthday Ms. Kristy, are you getting excited?!!


    • Kristy says:

      🙂 They are such little cuties aren’t they?! I wish I could just freeze times at certain moments. And I think I will try the 1/4 pound of panela next time. (I happen to have a 1/4 left!) And what a smart nephew you have! Pumpkins are magic with kids. 🙂


  8. Charles says:

    “pumpkin coffee”??

    Never heard of this dish before – In fact I rarely cook with pumpkins, using them only for the hallowe’en carving instead (people don’t seem to do that in France :/) Maybe I’ll make a point of buying a little diddy pumpkin this year and cooking up something like this… looks yummy 🙂


    • Kristy says:

      Oh Charles! No pumpkin coffee?! That settles it…when you show up here on my doorstep for the blueberries and lobster, I will now also make sure you get a pumpkin latte. It is heavenly! It’s a latte full of cinnamon and fall spices! Yum! And you should definitely put a pumpkin on your list of things to try…it’s fun to cook (you can season and bake the seeds too!) and it can be so good. 🙂


    • Kristy says:

      You’re a poet and didn’t even know it. 😉 Actually you probably did. LOL. Funny, I think this is our first recipe that ran the gender line around here…That said, both Mike and Mr. N like pumpkin pie. I don’t know that Miss A has ever had it.


  9. A_Boleyn says:

    Do you peel the slices of pumpkin before you put them into the syrup to stew?

    I doubt I’d ever make this but it’s ‘interesting’. I don’t eat pumpkin pie but I make a mean pumpkin cheesecake with canned pumpkin. 🙂


    • Kristy says:

      The peels are left on through the cooking process. When we ate it, we just used a fork to scoop the “meat” off the rind. Now a pumpkin cheesecake I can probably get behind! 🙂


    • Kristy says:

      I’d say it’s an apt description for the way both kiddos can be at this time of day – not every day mind you – but at least once a week. Fortunately (knock on wood) they seem to have their moments individually and usually not on the same day. 😉 Yeah maybe I could handle it with less sugar too. Maybe.


  10. sallybr says:

    Very cute post…

    You know, in Brazil “doce de abobora” – best translation would maybe be “pumpkin sweet” – is not too different from what you showed in this Ecuador post. However, the Brazilian concoction is a bit more like a paste, a thick paste, sometimes paired with coconut flakes – and enjoyed either on its own, or with some farmer’s type cheese.

    Funny thing is, growing up I did not care for it, would not touch it – but now I can see it as a wonderful use for a pumpkin.

    your kids are so adventurous, it’s wonderful!


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