The two cute pumpkins on the left may be laughing, but they don’t know what awaits them. They served their purpose well: they were carved by the children themselves this year for the very first time! I am impressed. It gave the kids hours of entertainment and a break for us. I still got to carve Cecilia’s pumpkin and one in Julia’s class, which I thought was a piece of cake after a few years of requests for Hello Kitty faces, Storm Troopers or Star Wars anything. Now it is time for those to go and for me to get back to focusing on the ones I love, the better tasting ones.
If you are looking for a simple fall dessert or snack, or something to bring to a meal at a friend’s place, or an edible gift, this recipe is for you. Okay, you can make the gift prettier on the lid decoration, I know. I used what I found in my kids’ project bin before heading out to a (fabulous and hopefully now regular) mommy & babies lunch.
This is a simple, no-fail recipe. It is not overly sweet (in my books), and simply perfect when paired with fresh farmer’s cheese. In Brazil I would have used queijo Minas, a white fresh cheese originally from Minas Gerais State. Here I found its equivalent (queso fresco) at a supermarket near me that sells Latin American foods and it was just as good.
I was going for my Grandmother’s recipe, but since I could not find it, I used this one posted by The Cookie Shop (which the author also found when she was looking for her Grandmother’s recipe and realized there was never a recipe).
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND COCONUT COMPOTE (adapted from Dona Palmirinha Onofre’s Doce de Abóbora com Coco via The Cookie Shop)
Makes about 2 jars
2 pounds of butternut squash, peeled and chopped in large cubes
2 cups of sugar (I use demerara sugar)
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of grated coconut
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine squash, sugar, cinnamon sticks and cloves.
Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved into a syrup and the squash starts to soften. Lower the heat and cook for about 30-40 minutes, stirring often, or the syrup will burn. I like to leave chunks of squash, so I stir very gently and don’t smash it with the spatula. When the mixture has thickened, add the coconut and cook for another 3 minutes. Let it cool and keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.
If you need to cool it quickly, spread it on a shallow dish (I sprinkle a bit more grated coconut at this point for a crunchier texture).
I prefer unsweetened grated coconut, grated thick, for texture and better visual appeal, but any kind that you have in your pantry would work.
Lastly, since it was not obvious to my Dad who used to hide cloves in his pockets when encountering them on his food without knowing what to do with them (Dad: were you a kid or an adult?): the cloves are for flavor and decoration, not for eating. I suppose you could eat them, but you may not find them very pleasant.