Calabaza en Tacha (also called "candied pumpkin" in English, which is way less fun to say) is a Day of the Dead recipe, which, I think, makes it translate well to a Halloween recipe. But it would also be a nice substitute for those cloyingly sweet yams with the marshmallows on top at Thanksgiving. (And, in fact, I am told you can make this with sweet potatoes, too - Camote en Tacha - which, to someone who likes a little sweet potato with her brown sugar, as Sergio used to joke, sounds divine.)
piloncillo (photo from LatinMerchant.com)
It's a simple recipe - pumpkin cooked with cinnamon, orange juice and zest, water and piloncillo, a Mexican brown sugar with molasses that comes in a lovely shaped cone. Piloncillo isn't usually hard to find these days and, if it is, it's worth the effort to get; it has such a distinct flavor. In a pinch, you can substitute brown sugar and molasses for the piloncillo, but only if you must. Christy said that the traditional preparation method is to pierce the pumpkin with several large holes and to cook it whole. But there are simpler and faster cooking recipes than that. Here are links to a few ...
How to Make Day of the Dead Calabaza en Tacha
Calabaza en Tacha Day of the Dead Recipes
Earlier today, I asked Sergio what Calabaza en Tacha meant. He said, "Well, calabaza means pumpkin," - um, yeah, I know that already, Sergio: I did take Spanish 1 back in high school - "and en tacha ... I don't know what that means." We debated it further tonight at dinner with Christy and family - but never arrived at an answer - while enjoying our calabaza the traditional way: served cold in a bowl of milk. I thought that was a strange-sounding combo at first, but the creamy milk balances out the super sweet syrup ... it's definitely not strange. It's perfect.