Japanese kabocha pumpkin squares recipe

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This creates a firm, crunchy outer layer in the pumpkin pieces while their inside will turn soft and creamy.
This is a very traditional Brazilian recipe. Kabocha is a wondrous Japanese pumpkin that is sweet and creamy, working well with both savoury dishes and desserts. The skin has a lot of the goodness from the vegetable and can be eaten, so do not throw it away, but use it in the Kabocha Pumpkin Skin, Onion and Chorizo Fritter recipe.

  • Yield: 12 Servings


  • 2¼ lb (1 kg) kabocha pumpkin
  • 1¼oz/3 tbsp (30 g) quicklime powder (calcium oxide, available online or from hardware shops)
  • 28 fl oz/3 1/3 cups (800 ml) water
  • 14 oz/1¾ cups (400 g) granulated white sugar
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
How to Make It
  1. Peel the kabocha pumpkin and cut it into 3 cm (1¼ inch) cubes. Place the cubes in a large sealable container.
  2. Dissolve the quicklime powder in 2 litres (3½ pints/8 1/3 cups) of water and pour this alkaline solution over the pumpkin, ensuring that the cubes of pumpkin are completely submerged in the solution. Cover the container and let it rest overnight.
  3. Discard the quicklime solution; place the pumpkin cubes in a large colander and thoroughly wash them under fresh running water to eliminate any traces of the quicklime mixture.
  4. In a pan large enough to hold the sugar syrup and pumpkin cubes, place the measured water and sugar, and mix well over a low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon and let it simmer for a few minutes until nearly boiling. Add the pumpkin cubes and continue simmering for about 30 minutes until the pumpkin is cooked, then remove from the heat. The pumpkin should have a firm exterior but be very soft inside; you may need to try a couple of pieces every so often to check doneness.
  5. Let the pumpkin squares cool down completely. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until needed. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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