Calabaza en Tacha
Recipe courtesy of Jacqueline Tris for Food Network Kitchen

Calabaza en Tacha

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 5 min
  • Active: 15 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Calabaza en tacha—or candied pumpkin--is a traditional dish made during the celebration of Día de los Muertos. Here in the United States, my mom would cook it during squash season in the fall, substituting kabocha squash or pumpkin for the hard-to-find calabaza de Castilla typically used in Mexico. Though different regions use different spices, such as cloves or star anise, Mexican cinnamon is always used. The dish can be enjoyed many ways: as a dessert topped with sweetened condensed milk and chopped nuts, as a midday snack or served cold for breakfast, with milk poured over it.



  1. Add the piloncillo, cinnamon, star anise, if using, orange slices and 6 cups water to a large heavy-bottomed pot. Heat over medium-high heat until the piloncillo dissolves and the mixture comes to a simmer, about 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the orange slices to a plate. Add the squash to the pot skin-side down, top with the reserved orange slices and cover with a lid. Lower the heat to medium and cook until barely tender, about 15 minutes; discard the orange slices.
  3. Re-cover the pot and continue to cook until the squash is tender, about another 15 minutes. Remove the squash from the syrup. Simmer the syrup until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  4. Serve the squash with the piloncillo syrup. Or, let it cool and serve it with milk or sweetened condensed milk.

Cook’s Note

Piloncillo is similar to dark brown sugar or molasses; its flavor is robust and caramelized.