Happy Valentine’s Day! Today it’s all about sweets for your sweet. My home State, Minas Gerais in Brazil, is famed for its jams and compotes. They make many sweets from lots of different fruits, including: guava, pineapple, passion fruit, bitter orange, jabuticaba, quice and pumpkin, to name just a few. As a kid, I fondly remember watching my mother spending lots of time preparing these wonderful sweets. She gave them to neighbors and to the Church for their weekend auctions to raise funds for charity.
I bought a huge French pumpkin last November with the intention of using it for decoration through the holidays and then eating it in the New Year. Well, 2011 is now.
You can’t really tell that well from the picture, but it must have been at least 18 inches in diameter (about a half meter!)
Here are a few others. I read somewhere about French pumpkin. The description of it made me think that it would work for my mother’s pumpkin coconut compote. The French one has a similar texture to the ones from Brazil; with a similar, bright orange flesh that’s slightly fibrous and a relatively soft and pliable skin that makes it easy to peel.
The thing was absolutely gigantic for two people. I cut it up last Thursday and used some for quibebe, a popular savory pumpkin dish from Minas; some I gave to Jasmine Turner, she wants to experiment cooking with fresh pumpkin as opposed to canned for more pies (Here’s the latest version); Steven plans on making some into pumpkin-filled ravioli with sage and shitake mushrooms; and the rest I used for this sweet.
This is essentially a dessert. Typically you’d have it with a white, salty but mildly flavored cheese after the meal. We ate ours with slices of Mexican queso fresco. You might enjoy it as a small snack or at breakfast-time as well. It is delicious and can even be elegant.
pumpkin coconut compote
3½ lbs French pumpkin (or similar) peeled, seeds and inner strings removed, cut into small cubes
1½ lbs sugar
1-2 cinnamon sticks
1½ cup dried coconut flakes
Add pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon and cloves to a large pot on medium heat. Stir occasionally. Pumpkin will release liquid and melt the sugar. Cook for about 1 hour, uncovered, stirring every 3-4 minutes to prevent burning or sticking. Pumpkin should dissolve by the end of cooking and much of the liquid should evaporate. If it remains firm, use a wooden spoon to mash it in the pot. Add coconut flakes and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Eat at room temperature or chilled. This could easily be preserved in jars, which is how you find it in Brazil. I didn’t do that here, so we ate it over a few days and gave some to friends. This recipe is also similar to this from a Brazilian blog.