Pumpkin is everywhere! Literally! Go to the stores and you will see the aisles filled with pumpkin butter, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soda, pumpkin pasta sauce and of course the always anticipated pumpkin spice latte. I though I would do a little pumpkin-ing myself, but this isn’t your traditional pumpkin recipe. Actually if we are going to get super technical this is a kabocha squash recipe, but allow me to explain.
Back home in Puerto Rico it hard to find a traditional pumpkin. You know the big orange pumpkin that gets carved with silly scary faces for Halloween. They aren’t impossible to find, but it’s slim pickings. What can be found in PR is the kabocha squash, in fact, it can be found growing in the wild. When referencing pumpkin or calabaza in PR it’s the kabocha squash.
In Puerto Rico kabocha is typically sold in slices because people are looking for the bright orange color. The kabocha squash’s flesh is firmer than a pumpkin but much sweeter. It a great option for any “pumpkin” dessert.
These little fritters are always a popular treat, and they even have a funny little name. Barriguitas de Vieja literally translates to “Old Lady Bellies”. Yup, you heard that right, “Old Lady Bellies”. The name is a play on how the fritters look, they are round, a little wrinkly and have a dimple in the center, like an old lady’s belly. They are also called Tortitas de Calabaza which means pumpkin fritters, but that’s not as fun to say.
Although these little fritters look like a little old lady’s wrinkly belly, they are absolutely delightful. Let’s make some barriguitas!
Break the kabocha down into wedges. Pre-heat and oven to 400 degrees. Generously spray a sheet pan with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper. Place wedges on a sheet pan.
Roast in the oven for 40 minutes or until fork tender, turning half way.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh into the food processor and blend until smooth.
Add flour to puréed squash, pulse until just combined.
Add egg, sugars, spices, vanilla & salt. Pulse until well combined. At this point you can give the mixture a taste and add more spices or sugar if desired.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
Heat a skillet with 1 1/2 inch of vegetable oil to 350 degrees. Using two spoons scoop some of the mixture into one spoon and use the other to scrape mixture into hot oil. It should quickly form a shell and begins to lightly float. Using a fork quickly flip and press down with the back of the fork to form a patty, flip back. Fry each side until golden orange. The fritters should be firm when pressed with the back of the fork.
Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
Serve dusted with powdered sugar or with a side of ice cream or with a cup of chai latte!
The fritters should be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Almost like a soft cakey donut with crispy edges.
These little fritters pack a serious pumpkin punch. Like slap your mama with a pumpkin kind of punch. Not that I am endorsing the slapping of your mama. That would be muy malo!!
I highly recommend you add these to your pumpkin repertoire this Fall, and when your friends or family ask you what you are making just say “old lady bellies” followed by an evil cackling laugh, perfect for Halloween.