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Butternut squash cooked in piloncillo and spices

Dulce de zapallo or candied squash in spiced syrup

Dulce de zapallo or calabaza is a dessert made with squash or pumpkin simmered in a syrup of panela or piloncillo (hard brown cane sugar) and spices.
Course Dessert, Sweets
Cuisine Ecuadorian, Latin American
Keyword Butternut squash, Candied squash, Caramelized squash in sweet spiced syrup, Dulce de zapallo, Panela, Piloncillo, Pumpkin, Squash
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes


  • 1 medium squash or small pumpkin about 2 lbs – organic if possible
  • 1 lb panela or piloncillo broken into chunks - can substitute with 1.5 cups of dark brown sugar
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 all spice peppers
  • ~ 3 cups water

To serve:

  • Fresh cheese slices can use quesillo or queso fresco or fresh mozzarella


  • Wash the squash well, slice it open and remove all the seeds and membranes.
  • Cut the squash into medium sized pieces and place them in a large pot with the chunks of panela and spices.
  • Add the water and bring to a boil over medium heat, boil for about 30 minutes with the lid on.
  • Uncover and simmer for about 1 hour or until the syrup thickens.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Can be served warm or room temperature with a slice of fresh cheese. Can also be used as a filling for empanadas and tarts or pies.