This recipe for Turkish Candied Pumpkin (kabak tatlısı) is inspired by the traditional Middle Eastern dessert. Cut squash is cooked with sugar until it becomes a taffy-like sweet treat. Try it in place of pumpkin pie one day and see what you think!
What is Turkish candied pumpkin?
Turkish candied pumpkin(or Kabak tatlısı, “kah-BAHK’ TAHT’-luh-suh”), is a Turkish dessert made by cooking slices of pumpkin in sugar until they become candied. Once cooked it is often topped with chopped walnuts, tahini and kamak (which is similar to clotted cream).
Unsurprisingly, to candy the very hard squash, a large amount of sugar is needed. Therefore, the end result is intensely sweet and really benefits from a sharper pairing of yogurt or tahini. Warning: this recipe needs to sit overnight prior to baking. This is a very important step as it draws out the liquid from the pumpkin and creates a very moist, almost melted texture. Other than a long sit on the counter, this recipe is very low maintenance and only requires a few ingredients.
This recipe is inspired by one from the Yasmin Khanh cookbook Ripe Figs (one of my favorites).
- One small to medium pie pumpkin (around 2 lbs)
- 2 cups of organic cane sugar
- Toppings of choice such as chopped nuts, tahini, or yogurt
Is a pie pumpkin the same as a sugar pumpkin?
Yes, these terms can be used interchangeably. This is what you will commonly find in the grocery store.
What is the difference between a pie pumpkin and a regular (carving) pumpkin?
Pie pumpkins tend to be smaller, heavier for their size, and richer in flavor than carving pumpkins. The flesh of pie pumpkins is much more dense and less stringy than carving pumpkins. Carving (or Jack-o-lantern) pumpkins have a pale interior flesh that is rather thin and easy to scrape out.
How to Make Turkish Candied Pumpkin
1. Using a sharp knife, begin by slicing the stem and bottom stamp off of your pumpkin. Halve the pumpkin and scrap out the seeds with a spoon or fork. Slice pumpkin halves into into 1-2 inch (3-5 cm) wide wedges. Add to a large casserole dish and sprinkle with all of the sugar, tossing to combine. Cover the dish and let rest for 30 minutes.
2. After 30 minutes, you will see that the sugar has begun to dissolve. Toss with a spoon once more, cover, and let rest overnight (10-12 hours).
3. The next morning, preheat the over to 350 degrees F/180 C. The pumpkin will have released all of its juices and be more fragile at this stage. Cover the baking dish (with a lid or with foil).
4. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Every 20 minutes or so during the baking process, carefully spoon sugar syrup back over any exposed pieces of squash. This will help them cook more evenly. One finished cooking, remove from oven and let cool completely in the dish. During this stage, the jammy texture of the pumpkin will set in.
5. Once fully cooled, serve pumpkin slices with toppings of choice. It is naturally very sweet so I encourage you to try more tart fixings such as plain yogurt or tahini.
Is pumpkin skin edible?
Yes! Once fully cooked, pumpkins (and nearly all squash varieties) have edible skin. If a pumpkin skin is particularly tough, it will take a very long time to cook fully. In this recipe, we bake the pumpkin for an hour so this softens the outer layer very nicely.
If you’d like, this recipe can be made with peeled pumpkin or squash. I find this is too bothersome of a process so tend to skip it.
What to Serve With this Recipe
Some traditional ideas:
- Chopped walnuts
- Yogurt, clotted cream, or kamak
- Runny tahini (sesame seed paste)
- Date syrup
Some non-traditional ideas:
- Pomegranate arils
- Freshly grated cinnamon and nutmeg
- Chopped almonds or pecans