Pumpkin Sweet 3In Mexico we also use pumpkin in fall desserts, but in a totally different way compare to a pumpkin pie or to pumpkin muffins. In Mexican desserts, pumpkin remains in chunks, not as a puree, and we cook it in a piloncillo (brown sugar) syrup. This Mexican Sweet Pumpkin is very traditional; it’s part of the Day of the Dead foods and usually plays a role in the Altares de Muertos (Dead Offerings).

Pumpkin Sweet 2I think it’s important to mention that the most common pumpkin in Mexico, and the one we use to make ​​this dessert, is called “Calabaza de Castilla” (Cucurbita moschata) which is very different to the ones usually used in other parts of the world for cooking. It’s big, with a hard shell and a light orange flesh. I took a photo in the supermarket for you to see how this type of pumpkin looks, I think an image could exemplifies it better.

Pumpkin Sweet 5I love when I start seeing this pumpkins in the supermarkets! Generally you can ask the person in charge of the fruit/vegetable department to cut it into small chunks, this really helps because you only purchases the required amount and you save a lot of trouble trying to cut it in your kitchen.

Pumpkin sweet 1In my house we really like this dessert, and in pumpkin season we prepare it around 3-4 times (We need to take advantage of pumpkin season! Hahaha). It is a recipe with few ingredients and it is very easy to prepare.

Mexican Sweet Pumpkin
Serves 4
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr
  1. 1 ½ kilogram (3.3 lb) calabaza de Castilla, coarsely chopped
  2. 500 gr (17.6 oz) chopped piloncillo (Brown sugar)
  3. 2 star anise
  4. 1 cinnamon stick
  5. ¾ cup water
  1. Wash the calabaza de Castilla.
  2. In a large saucepan, place the piloncillo (brown sugar), anise, cinnamon and water. Let it boil over high heat until the piloncillo (brown sugar) dissolves completely and forms a syrup. This specific type of pumpkin loses a lot of liquid when cooking, so if at this stage, you see a very thick syrup I recommend that you don’t add extra water.
  3. Add the pumpkin chunks into the saucepan, with the pulp facing down. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let it simmer until the pumpkin is tender (about an hour). You can try the tenderness using a fork.
  4. Remove from heat. Remove anise and cinnamon.
  5. It is better to let it rest in the refrigerator for at least a day, to take more flavor.
  6. It can be served hot or cold.
  7. Enjoy!
  1. Serve with milk, so it balances the sweetness of the syrup.
Sweet Cannela http://www.sweetcannela.com/