This is a seasonal dessert that is typically eaten during Día de Muertos season in Oaxaca. The belief is that its spiced, sweet aroma is so tantalizing that it attracts the spirits to come and indulge. The sweet smell brings me back to the beautiful colors of my favorite time of year in Oaxaca. Muertos has always been a big part of my family’s culture. I still remember the smell of copal incense, cempazuchitl (marigold) flowers, mole, and this dulce de calabaza taking over my grandma’s house. She had a special room in her house dedicated to making an altar for my grandpa, who had passed on. I still remember spending Muertos week helping her get ready for my grandpa’s visit. It was so beautiful, and it is a tradition that I still keep alive today in my home. In Oaxaca, when cooking this dish, they use a type of firm pumpkin named calabaza de castilla. In the States, I use kabocha squash because of the similarities in flavor and texture. Eat it for dessert on a windy fall day.
Put the pumpkin, skin-side down, in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and add 1 cup (
Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until the piloncillo and water form a honey-like syrup. Serve warm.
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