Angel Hair Jam – How to Make Pumpkin Jam and What Can You Make With It?

Angel Hair Jam or Cabello de Angel in Spanish is the perfect confection for this time of year, the sweet caramelized fibres of pumpkin with the light aroma of cinnamon. Rather than using it as a spread it is often used as a pastry filling in various Spanish baked goods. Who says it has to be pumpkin spice everything this time of year? This is another great way to enjoy your pumpkin this fall and it is great fun to make, although there might be some violence involved in the process. Check out this recipe to find out more.

Cabello de Angel, also called cidra, used to be the bane of my existence when I was a kid. On every holiday to Spain, which was the only place we ever went, whenever my mother would buy a sweet treat she would always buy these various Spanish pastries that were always filled with Cabello de Angel and I hated them. They were too sweet made with puff pastry or a crumbly crust, covered with some powdered sugar. Can you just buy any other cake or dessert? Anything else? Nope, always the same once and if she had known that you can buy Cabello de Angel in cans she would have brought them home and made my birthday cake with it, too. I’m sure she wasn’t aware that she did it, but she just had the nostalgic food of my childhood goggles on that refuse to let you see anything other than what you had growing up. I was also very bad asserting myself, so I suffered through the pastries, or rather didn’t have any, and the birthday cake that I did not like that much. They say your taste changes all seven years, and I don’t know when it changed, but I like Cabello de Angel now. Or maybe I just like my own, who knows. Even though I was never crazy about it, when I saw a kind of pumpkin you could use to make it (not the ideal one but I made do) I figured I would give it a try. Here is everything I learned from this experiment.

What is Cabello de Angel?

Cabello de Angel, also called Dulce de Calabaza, literally translates to the angel hair but unlike the decoration with the same name this one is a sweet confection that can be used in a variety of pastries. It is made by caramelizing the fibres of certain kinds of gourds, in Spain the most common variety uses the fig-leaf gourd but any fibrous cucurbits can be used. The colour will then turn very lightly yellow unlike the one I made using Spaghetti squash which turned into a very golden yellow. Although in terms of colour this looks a lot more angelic to me as angels always seem to be portrayed as blond, which is a problem in itself. In some South American countries they also make it using mango, which is quite interesting. Finding the origin of this confection is actually really difficult, hours of research I am non-the-wiser. According to the English Wikipedia page (here) Cabello de Angel originated in Mallorca, which is a fact I found nowhere else so it has to be true. Cabello de Angel seems to have been around so long that no one seems to know where it is actually from.

How to Make Cabello de Angel?

I won’t lie to you, this is a lot of work. To make Cabello de Angel you also need the what seems to be the hardest pumpkin varieties, which can make this really difficult. I tried taking a knife to one of my Spaghetti squashes and I would not recommend that. Anybody who recommends that method on the internet should be banned, it is straight-up dangerous. Here I will show you how I made it, which was relatively easy (once I put the knife away) and not dangerous (still have all of my fingers intact and no sharp knife sticking out of my belly, which could have been quite timely considering that Halloween is right around the corner). It is also a great way to get your frustrations out of your system. Some people do therapy, I wrap Spaghetti squash in a kitchen towel and throw it onto a concrete ground thinking of the people who have wronged me until it breaks apart. You cannot argue with the results, I slept well that night.

Cabello de Angel

Ingredients:
• Any fibrous pumpkin (for example fig-leaf gourd or Spaghetti squash)
• Sugar
• Lemon juice
• Cinnamon stick

Instructions:
1. Wash the pumpkin and wrap it in a kitchen towel. Go outside and throw it on hard ground (not grass) until it breaks apart. Remove the seeds (can be roasted) and the guts.
2. Add the pumpkin to a large pot and cover it with water. Bring everything to a boil until fork-tender. Drain the pumpkin and leave it to cool enough to handle.
3. Scrape the fibres away from the skin with a fork and put it into a bowl. Drain the pulp in a sieve to remove excess water.
4. Weigh the pumpkin pulp and add half the weight in sugar. Add the juice of one lemon and a cinnamon stick per one kilo of pulp. You can also omit the cinnamon stick and add ground cinnamon to taste.
5. Now bring everything to a boil and all the excess moisture evaporate until the pulp is golden and relatively dry. Keep stirring it in the process to make sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom of the pot. When you caramelize it too much it can turn too hard, almost candied. It is better to think of it as a loose puree consistency once done.
6. Fill the angel hair jam into sterilised jars and leave them to cool. Use it as a spread or as a filling for puff pastry and pastry dough.

A pumpkin spiced latte is not the only way to enjoy pumpkin this time of year, although it certainly is the most basic and popular. Maybe you would like to try enjoying pumpkin the traditionally Spanish (as far as I know, boy have I browsed the web to figure it out) way. You can used it as a jam or pastry filling. I will certainly introduce you to my further experiments with it, I mean I only made five jars of it and I like it now. I may pass the recipe on to my mother. I hope you enjoyed this quite lengthy post and have a wonderful day!

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