Sweet Pumpkin Dessert with Walnuts

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Here’s a striking, easy-to-make Turkish sweet called kabak tatlisi. The cooking method is fascinating: you macerate cubes of squash in sugar until they weep, cook the cubes at a low temperature, then gently cool, allowing the squash cubes to swell with the syrupy juices. It goes beautifully with walnuts and a cultured cream such as crème fraîche.

I suggest you use a tasty orange winter squash, such as butternut or hubbard, dense enough to hold its shape through the unique cooking process. Either variety will produce a sweet with an intense flavor and creamy texture.

Ingredients

  • 1⅓ pounds butternut squash
  • 1 cup superfine or baker’s sugar
  • cup shelled walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup cultured cream, such as crème fraîche, optional

Method

  1. Peel and trim the squash. You should have 1 pound. Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes. Mix with the sugar in a shallow ceramic baking dish and let stand for at least 30 minutes, or until the squash weeps and the sugar melts.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Use a wooden spoon to mix the squash and sugar. Cover with a crumpled sheet of wet parchment paper, place in the oven, and bake for hours, or until the juices boil and the squash is tender. Turn off the oven and leave the dish inside until completely cool. (The squash will continue to re-absorb their syrupy juices.) Store in a cool place or in the refrigerator. Let return to room temperature before serving.
  3. Sauté the walnuts in the butter until glistening. Serve the squash and a few teaspoons of the syrup in individual serving bowls. Garnish with a sprinkling of toasted walnuts. If desired, garnish with dollops of cultured cream.
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