Finding the best word to describe the last four months of the year is simple to me: cozy. Even though we live in Los Angeles where it isn't too uncommon for the thermometer to climb to 90s on a September or October day, I still insist on baking to walk the walk. This easy vegan pumpkin dessert recipe was tested and photographed on such a day. No matter— I still put on the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack and lit a vanilla-scented candle to capitalize on all the Fall *feels*.
This family-favorite dessert, or kabak tatlisi in Turkish, is so easy to create that, I am once again very surprised to not see it commonly consumed outside of Turkey. Sure, it does take a day to macerate the pumpkin, but all you literally have to do during that period is find enough space for a baking tray in the fridge.
Easiest Pumpkin Dessert
Three common ingredients are all you need. You probably already have sugar and cinnamon in the pantry anyway.
If you don't cinnamon sticks, powdered cinnamon, or pumpkin spice, will also work.
If you are at all worried about the amount of sugar we have in this recipe, don't be. I've also tested it with erythritol and it works perfectly as a substitute.
In case you are curious about why I am recommending erythritol specifically, go to this turmeric rice pudding post with a more detailed explanation.
What Type of Pumpkin is Best for Desserts?
Any variety that is dense and sweet will work best in desserts. Not just for this recipe, but also for pumpkin pies, dump cakes, muffins, cookies... even for soups.
If you can find "sugar pumpkins" or "pie pumpkins", these will work best. Second preference would be a butternut squash or a Hubbard squash. If all you have is a giant jack-o'-lantern pumpkin, this recipe will most likely turn out bland. Plus it will be much harder to cut into slices or shapes. For this same purpose, stay away from the gourd variety. Which brings me to my next point...
How to Cut a Pumpkin for Cooking
...the easiest way to cut into a large pumpkin with all your fingers intact is to first halve it with a sharp chef's knife vertically (like you would an onion). Clean out the stringy seeds. Then lay it down on a cutting board on its cut-side for a solid foundation.
If the skin is thin enough, peel with a vegetable peeler. Otherwise, cut into desired sizes and cut the skin off with the same chef's knife. This approach is more wasteful than the peeler, but in my case, it was also necessary.
How to Serve Easy Vegan Pumpkin Dessert
Ta-da! You are almost done with the recipe. Now just let the oven/stovetop do its magic. After you chill it in the refrigerator one last time, you can heat it back up for a warm treat. Serve it with the following:
- Crushed walnuts
- Clotted cream (not the sweetened kind)
- Other macerated-fruit seasoning ideas by Serious Eats
This Kabak Tatlisi recipe is...
- perfect for Halloween 😉
Easy Vegan Pumpkin Dessert: 3-Ingredient Recipe
- Total Time: 21 hours 15 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
Try this easy vegan pumpkin dessert requiring only 3 ingredients! This traditional Turkish recipe is perfect for a cozy fall day. Naturally gluten-free. Sugar-free option included.
- 4 slices* of pumpkin** (a slice is 1.5" by 2.5")
- ¾ cup sugar (or 1 cup erythritol if avoiding sugar. decrease amount if using a denser variety like butternut squash)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup water
- Arrange pumpkin slices/cut-outs with the cinnamon stick on a roasting pan and sprinkle with sugar. Cover and let it rest in the refridgerator for at least 18 hours.
- To cook, preheat oven to 350F; or turn on low-medium setting for stovetop.
- If using a stovetop instead of an oven, transfer the pumpkins including the juice into a saucepan. For either option, add 1 cup of water.
- If baking in the oven, cover with aluminum foil and cook for 40 minutes.
- Afterwards, reduce heat to 325F (or low on stovestop) and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Let it rest at room temperature, then in the refrigerator for two hours.
- Serve with crushed walnuts & tahini, or with clotted cream.
- *You can cut the pumpkin into any shape you wish. The most traditional way is to cut them into long, thick slices as described.
- **If you can find "sugar pumpkins" or "pie pumpkins", they will work best. Second preference would be a butternut squash or a Hubbard squash. If all you have is a jack-o'-lantern pumpkin, this recipe may turn out bland.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes + 18 hours resting
- Cook Time: 1 hour + 2 hours chilling
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Cook, Bake, Macerate
- Cuisine: Turkish, Mediterranean
- Serving Size: 1 Pumpkin Slice
- Calories: 230
- Sugar: 45.5 g
- Sodium: 12.7 mg
- Fat: 0.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 57.8 g
- Fiber: 7.5 g
- Protein: 2.7 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: pumpkin dessert, vegan, kabak tatlisi, halloween
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