Print
clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon facebook facebook icon print print icon squares squares icon

The BEST Pumpkin Dessert: Turkish Kabak Tatlısı

  • Author: Gonul
  • Prep Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 27 hours
  • Yield: 10-12 Servings 1x
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: Turkish

Description

Try Turkish pumpkin dessert—two ways, and a sugar-free alternative! The regular version and one made with slaked lime that only very few get to taste outside of Turkey. Video with step-by-step instructions available.


Scale

Ingredients

Crispy Version:

  • 1/2 cup pickling lime (aka cal, calcium hydroxide, slaked lime)
  • 1 gallon of water (for soaking)
  • 6lb of pumpkin flesh, sliced (about half of a medium-sized Cinderella pumpkin*)
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups* of water (for syrup)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 whole cloves
  • topping: 1 cup of walnuts, crushed
  • topping: 2/3 cup of tahini

Regular Version:

  • 6lb of pumpkin flesh (about half of a medium-sized Cinderella pumpkin*)
  • 2 cups* of sugar (or 2.5 cups of erythritol or date syrup)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 whole cloves
  • topping: 1 cup of walnuts, crushed
  • topping: 2/3 cup of tahini 

Instructions

Crispy Version:

  1. Halve the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds.
  2. For this crispy version, cut them into crescents. This ensures that there’s some soft pumpkin in the middle after it’s been cooked.
  3. Make a calcium hydroxide bath by mixing the pickling lime with water—remember to turn away from the dust cloud. Gloves recommended.
  4. Place the pumpkin slices inside the bath, weigh them down with a heavy bowl or place to submerge everything, then let them harden in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. The next morning, drain out the water and wash each piece to remove any excess lime.
  6. Transfer the rinsed pumpkin into a large pot and pour sugar all over.
  7. Add water and mix, bring to a boil, add cinnamon sticks and whole cloves, then turn down the heat and let it simmer for up to 3 hours. 
  8. When its syrup gets very thick, you can take it off the heat and let it cool down. Personally, I enjoy eating all versions of the Turkish pumpkin dessert cold.
  9. Top with tahini and crushed walnuts, or enjoy with clotted cream for an even richer taste!

Regular Version:

  1. Halve the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds.
  2. For the regular version, you can cut them into any shape you like—smaller pieces will cook faster.
  3. Place the pieces of pumpkin into a large pot, and pour the sugar all over. Let it macerate in the refrigerator overnight.
  4.  When the pumpkin has released its water, transfer the pot onto the stovetop and bring to a boil.
  5. Add cinnamon sticks and whole cloves, mix, then lower the heat to a simmer with the lid on.
  6. Occasionally mix and continue simmering until it reaches a consistency you like—mine took about 2.5 hours to get very soft. If you’d like for the pumpkins to have more texture, 1.5-2 hours should suffice.
  7. Let it rest at room temperature for an hour, then top with tahini and crushed walnuts. Enjoy on its own, or add it to oatmeal, pancakes, or waffles!
  8. Each of these recipes will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Notes

You may substitute Cinderella pumpkins with butternut squash if needed.

If you think the dessert is not sweet enough for your palate, feel free to add more.