You and I know the best part of Thanksgiving. Two words. Pumpkin. Pie.
You know what’s not the best part? All those poor souls (The Professor included) who can’t eat gloriously smooth and creamy pumpkin pie because it’s damn near impossible to make it taste good without half-and-half or cream or cow’s milk in one form or the other.
This year I aim to remedy this situation with tacha. Tacha Tacha What What?!!
Tacha is pumpkin or other winter squash that is simmered for hours on end in a cinnamon syrup until it completely falls apart and becomes almost like a pudding. You scoop it out into shallow bowls and eat it with thick dollops of lightly sweetened crema. It is fantastic soul food that is perfect on its own, but you know me, I can’t leave a good thing alone so I thought…..what if I turned it into…..PIE!!!
First things first, however, making the tacha. The foundation of good tacha is piloncillo. Piloncillo is sugar cane juice that is dried into solid form. It comes in cones of different sizes or in blocks. You can find it at Mexican markets or online. For this recipe we are using the piloncillo median or medium cones. If you can’t find the piloncillo you can substitute dark brown sugar.
To make the syrup dissolve the piloncillo in water then add a few sticks of canela or cinnamon, the zest and juice of an orange and the pumpkin slices.
We want the pumpkin to stay in nice, whole slices so we aren’t going to cook it as much as we would if we were making true tacha, about 15 minutes will do. After we take the pumpkin out we will continue to boil the liquid until it becomes thick and flavorful, about 35-40 more minutes.
In the meantime we can make the dough and assemble our tart.
Lay the pumpkin in a pretty pattern.
Fold the sides up over the pumpkin, pour some of that delicious, thick syrup over the top and bake. Serve the pie warm, room temperature, or cold with the remaining syrup and whipped coconut cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream (which obviously is not dairy free).