Doce de Abóbora – Sweet Butternut Pumpkin with Coconut

This traditional Brazilian butternut dessert is made by cooking butternut squash with sugar and spices.  The resulting flavours are similar to those in pumpkin pie, but the texture of this dessert is more like a compote or a thick jam, mixed with a delicious caramel syrup. The added coconut is optional but very tasty. This dessert is often served cold, but is excellent warm as well, or even spooned over ice cream.

Candied pumpkin is also very popular in Mexico, where it is cut into thick slices that are simmered in a sugar syrup (Calabaza En Tacha) until they are tender and infused with the spiced syrup. In Brazil the pumpkin is also cooked this way (usually cut into cubes instead of slices). Sometimes the resulting cubed pumpkin is served in its syrup, and sometimes the cubes are allowed to dry slightly, before rolling them in sugar to make candies (doce de abóbora cristalizado).

Doce de Abóbora - Sweet Butternut Pumpkin with Coconut
This traditional Brazilian dessert is made by cooking pumpkin with sugar and spices.
Cuisine: Brazilian
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: About 2½ cups
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 900g peeled, cubed butternut squash (reserve seeds for roasting)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4-5 whole cloves
  • pinch of salt,or to taste
  • ¾ cup shredded coconut (fresh or dried)
  1. Place the pumpkin in a large stockpot with the water, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and salt.
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pumpkin is very soft. Mash the pumpkin with a fork or potato masher.
  3. Stir in the coconut and continue to cook over low heat. stirring frequently, until mixture has thickened and has a deep orange brown colour. The candied pumpkin is ready when you can scrape a spatula across the bottom of the pot, and it takes one or two seconds for the mixture to close back over the track of the spatula along the bottom of the pot.
  4. Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon stick and cloves. Chill until ready to serve.

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