How to make chef Miriam Echeverria’s syrup-drizzled candied pumpkin
Miriam Echeverria has cooked Italian at L’Unita and French at Greta Solomon’s, but for her friends and family, she loves to go straight-up Mexican—especially for holidays. Dulce de calabaza, or candied pumpkin, is a traditional fall dish commonly served in late October for Day of the Dead. “Back home, Día de los Muertos is two days of food, family and friends,” she says. “I’ve got a huge family, and every year, somehow, we fit more than 30 of us into my grandmother’s house.” Since moving to Toronto in 2008, the chef hasn’t made it back to her hometown of Veracruz for Día de los Muertos, so she often makes the dish around this time of year, when field pumpkins are abundant. It can be served hot, cold or at room temperature, and Echeverria likes to pair it with a scoop of ice cream—or eggnog as the calendar ticks closer to Christmas—because why not?
1 large pie pumpkin, at least four pounds—Echeverria looks for the porcelain doll varietal
1 ½ cups water
2 cones piloncillo sugar, about 8 oz. each
3 cinnamon sticks
Pinch sea salt
1 pint ice cream (either vanilla, dulce de leche, coffee, maple walnut or pistachio)
1. Using a sharp knife, slice the pumpkin in half. Remove and reserve the seeds. Cut the pumpkin into four-inch cubes or wedges, leaving the skin on.
2. In a wide pot, combine the water, piloncillo sugar and cinnamon to make a syrup. Bring to a light simmer on a low heat.
3. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the pumpkin—skin side down—to the syrup.
4. Cover and cook the pumpkin over low heat for about 40 minutes. To get that candied texture, baste the pumpkin flesh with the syrup every 10 minutes.
5. While the pumpkin cooks, preheat the oven to 375°F.
6. For the toasted pepita garnish, place the seeds on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 12 minutes. Let them cool, then remove the husks.
7. Sprinkle the hulled seeds with salt and return to the oven for five more minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
8. Check the pumpkin. Once a knife can slide through it effortlessly, remove it from the pot and strain the syrup. Reserve the strained syrup.
9. When the pumpkin is cool to the touch, remove the outer skin. (Echeverria says some people like to keep the skin on, but that’s entirely optional.)
10. Drizzle the pumpkin with the syrup, sprinkle with toasted pepitas and serve with