Pumpkin Quesillo: A Deliciously Nourishing Dessert!

Gabriela Velásquez

Pumpkin, squash, calabaza, zapallo or curcubito are some of the many names given to this thick rind fruit, which grows in many places worldwide, and is one of the main ingredients in the Latin-American diet.

Pumpkin has a pleasantly sweet taste and once cooked its flesh is very soft. It is rich in potassium, calcium and vitamin A, has a low calorie value as it’s largely water, so it can be consumed up to three times a week without altering your body weight.

Pumpkin has great benefits so it is an important part of many diets, especially those for the care of kidney disease, high blood pressure, digestive disorders, eyesight impairments and cancer.

In Latin America pumpkin is used in soups, creams, purees, cakes, pancakes, steamed and sprinkled with white cheese, and even as a base ingredient for desserts. And today, we are making just that! A pumpkin quesillo or flan.

Here’s the recipe for a delicious Pumpkin Quesillo:

Ingredients:

For the Quesillo:

  • 500 gr of pumpkin pureé
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 400 ml of milk
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon

For the Caramel:

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • The juice of one lemon

Directions:

  1. In a quesillera or double boiler, pour the cup of sugar and drizzle with the lemon juice. This will prevent the caramel from sticking to the walls of the double boiler. You don’t need to use water.
  2. Place the quesillera on the stove over medium heat. Wait -without stirring- until sugar has melted completely and turns golden brown. Once it has its caramel color, remove from heat and very carefully swirl it around to coat the bottom and sides of the pan, until it’s completely covered with caramel.  Set aside.
  3. Wash the pumpkin, discard all the seeds and chop into medium sized chunks.
  4. Place the chunks in a pot with water; bring to a boil. Remove from heat when the pumpkin chunks are tender and you can pierce the skin easily with a fork.
  5. With a fork, mash the poached pumpkin until it has the consistency of a puree; keep the skin to preserve vitamins and flavor.
  6. Place the pumpkin mixture and the rest of the ingredients (condensed milk, eggs, milk, nutmeg and cinnamon) in the blender.  Blend for approx. 4 minutes. Once finished pour the mixture in the quesillera over the caramel coat, and close it tightly.
  7. The quesillo will cook in a water bath or bain-marie: place the quesillera inside a large pot, pour water to almost cover it. It is important that the quesillera is firmly placed so that the mixture is leveled. You ca also use a double boiler.
  8. Cover the pot and cook for an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the quesillo mixture is soft but firm.
  9. Let it cool. When it has cooled to room temperature, over-turn it on a flat plate and place in the refrigerator -at least 4 hours.
  10. Serve cold.

Enjoy!