Calabaza en Tacha, pumpkin covered in a thick sweet syrup, is one of those traditional treats on the Day of the Dead Celebration, “Dia de Muertos”. Every region in my country has its own special way to make it, but usually, the pumpkin is cooked in a Piloncillo syrup with cinnamon sticks for a richer flavor.
Candied Pumpkin | Calabaza en Tacha
You will find it cooked also with other spices, like whole cloves or anise star; with other fruits like Guavas, sugar cane chunks, oranges, and even fig leaves. Cooked whole, poked with a few holes to let the syrup get inside the pumpkin or cut in large pieces with or without the pumpkin seeds.
Sometimes it is served loaded with syrup or just plain dry.My mom tells me that, on the farm, people used to submerge the pumpkin pieces first in a large pot with water and lime (Calcium Hydroxide), this makes the pumpkin a little more firm, since the pumpkin tends to get soft while cooking.
Calabaza en Tacha - Candied Pumpkin Mexican recipe
Some people still eat Calabaza en Tacha -pumpkin candied for breakfast with milk, the same way as we eat the candied sweet potatoes. But why is called Calabaza en Tacha? Well, there are stories that say that the pumpkin used to be cooked this way in large pots called “Tachos”, large copper cauldrons where the Piloncillo used to be made, The pumpkins were cooked in the molasses residues from those recipients and hence the name “Calabaza en Tacha”
I had adapted the way I cook Calabaza en Tacha here in the States, because you don’t find the traditional Calabazas de Castilla (curcubita moschata) everywhere, most pumpkins here have a softer skin and cook faster than the Traditional Calabaza de Castilla we use in Mexico, which has a harder skin, a thick flesh-pulp and lots of seeds.
Mexico is a country where people love sweets. I guess we have a special sweet treat for every occasion.Christmas celebrations have a Piñata filled with candies, oranges, apples, and sugar cane pieces, the crispy Buñuelos and warm Atoles. Easter time is a time for our Capirotada, a type of bread pudding dessert layered with raisins and peanuts.
The Three Kings Celebration (Epiphany) with the sweet bread shaped in an oval with colorful decorations and served along with a warm cup of Mexican chocolate. Mexican candies come in all shapes and forms, but most of them are made using natural wholesome ingredients like fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
How to make Calabaza en tacha
- Cut the pumpkin into 3" sections, serving size. Place Piloncillo cones, cinnamon sticks and orange slices in a large and heavy pot. (Please check the ingredients list below)
- Add four cups of water and turn heat to medium-high until it starts boiling. The piloncillo cones will start to dissolve. Once the piloncillo has dissolved, place some pumpkin pieces skin side down, add the rest of the pumpkin with the skin side up.
- Lower heat, cover pot and simmer. Cook for about 20-30 minutes.
- Once the pumpkin is cooked, removed from the pot using a large slotted spoon and transfer to a tray. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm while the syrup keeps cooking and reduces.
- Return syrup to boil, turning heat to medium-high. Keep cooking stirring occasionally until it becomes thick.
- Serve pumpkin warm or at room temperature with a drizzle of syrup or in a warm bowl of milk.
Other Day of the Dead Recipes: Day of the Dead Bread, Candied Sweet Potatoes, Atoles, Tamales and more.
Receta en español Calabaza en Tacha.
Calabaza en tacha
- 1 Medium pumpkin About 4-5 pounds
- 2 small piloncillo* cones about 10 oz
- 3 Mexican cinnamon sticks whole or cut in half
- 1 orange sliced (optional)
- 4 cups of water
CHECK THE RECIPE VIDEO
- Cut the pumpkin into 3″ sections, serving size. Remove seeds and strings. Place Piloncillo cones, cinnamon sticks, and orange slices in if using, a large and heavy pot.
- Add four cups of water and turn the heat to medium-high until it starts boiling. The piloncillo cones will begin to dissolve, stirring occasionally. Once the piloncillo has dissolved, place the pumpkin pieces with the skin side down and up. If you see that the pieces aren’t covered with the liquid from the piloncillo, don’t worry, the pumpkin will release some of their own juices, and steam will also help with the cooking.
- Lower heat, cover pot, and simmer. Cook for about 20-30 minutes at medium heat, it will be ready when the pumpkin is fork tender, and it has soaked some of the syrup. The cooking time will vary depending on how thick your pumpkin is.
- Once the pumpkin is cooked, removed from the pot using a large slotted spoon and transfer to a tray, cover with aluminum foil to keep warm while the syrup keeps cooking and reduces.
- Return syrup to boil, turning heat to medium-high. Keep cooking stirring occasionally until it becomes thick. Return pumpkin pieces to pot and spoon syrup all over the pumpkin pieces.
- Serve pumpkin warm or at room temperature with a drizzle of Piloncillo syrup or in a warm bowl of milk. The pumpkin flavors will be better the next day, so save some for later.
I have a leftover whole pumpkin and was looking for some recipes and found yours. That long process you replied to is what my father used to do My mother hated pumpkin in milk but my dad loved it, also with sweet potatoes. That made me laugh and miss them, since both have passed. I think next weekend I’ll give this a try Thanks for the memories. By the way pumpkin like this is delicious 😋.
Can you make dulce cooking the calabaza the same way? I love pumpkin candy but can’t seem to find a good recipe. I want the outside to be firm and the inside soft. Gracias!
To make that type of candy is a long process that takes several days. The pumpkin pieces need to be soaked first in a bath or cal and water.
Greetings from Fresno co.
My mom is 90yrs old She used to make this pumpkin candy .
I just harvested a 20 Pumpkin. She was so amazed. She keeps on flashing back to the Mexican candy.. But she isn’t able to give me instructions..
If you don’t mind explaining the long process, we all would appreciate it.
I’m will to make it for my mom.
This is the most popular way we cook pumpkin in Mexico. Would you please let me know what long process do you mean?
Qué hermosa calabaza Mely! Y cómo se antoja ya con el dulce de piloncillo!
I make it with buttercup or butternut squash, and use dark brown sugaar instead of piloncillo.
looks delicious and fun to learn more about your culture and traditions