Doce de abóbora (Pumpkin Jam)

The "doce de abóbora" is one of the traditional "festas juninas" (June country parties) dishes, although it's eaten all year round in Brazil. Pumpkin may be crystallized, preserved, molded in heart-shaped tins (the pulp paste is poured into heart-shaped molds) and jam. Pumpkin jam is served for dessert or as a snack, accompanied with fresh cheese or cream cheese, and it is also used to fill biscuits and cakes. 
I prefer using the butternut squash because the pulp don't get pasty. Grated coconut is usually added toward the end of cooking. 
After the discovery of America pumpkin was introduced to Europe and the "doce de abóbora" ("chila") became a traditional Portuguese sweet, prepared with walnuts or almonds instead of coconut.

Ingredients

  • • 1 Kg peeled butternut squash or pumpkin
  • • 500 g sugar
  • • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • • 4 dried cloves
  • • 50 - 100 g di dry grated coconut, optional

Preparation method

1. Peel and cut the butternut squash into pieces. The smaller the pieces the faster it will cook. 
2. Combine all the ingredients except the coconut in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a little water, stir, cover and allow the sugar to dissolve over a gentle heat.  
3. When you notice an increase of liquid in the saucepan remove lid and continue cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally. The cooking time depends on the butternut squash, but is hardly ever less than 30 minutes. If it is a really good butternut squash it will take little time to cook, otherwise you may add a little sugar to it. 
4. Mash the butternut squash pieces with a fork over halfway through cooking time. 
5. Add the dried or fresh grated coconut and mix well. 
6. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally. The cooking time should not be too long so as not to impair the  butternut squash's flavor, so as not to dull the beautiful butternut squash orange color and also to prevent the crystallization of the sugar.   
7. Once cooked remove and discard the cinnamon sticks and cloves.
8. Serve with fresh cheese (queijo branco) or cream cheese (requeijão)
9. Store in fridge.
Posted on: 31 January 2012
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