Ayote en Miel: A Delicious and Easy Guatemalan Dessert

Ayote en miel is a delicious Guatemalan dessert typically served on November 1st  for All Saints Day, the Dia de Los Muertos festivities in Guatemala. Ayote en miel (or ayote en dulce) is a delicious squash cooked in a sweet syrup of panela (unrefined cane sugar) and spices. It is a popular traditional dessert among many Central American countries like El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Here is my super easy recipe for ayote en miel, a traditional Guatemalan dish perfect for Día de Todos Los Santos celebrations.

Ayote en miel recipe from Nicaragua

Many of my family’s traditions are tied to childhood memories around my Abuelita’s kitchen. She used to cook so many delicious Guatemalan foods. One of those traditions is cooking unique Guatemalan food for special holidays, like tamales colorados at Christmas and Fiambre on Dia de todos Los Santos (All Saints Day) on November 1st.

When I moved to the US, I missed family gatherings sitting around delicious Guatemalan dishes prepared only on special occasions.  So I made it my mission to continue my grandma’s legacy and started cooking my favorite Guatemalan traditional foods with my kids. One of those Guatemalan celebrations centered around food is  All Saints Day and Día de Los Difuntos (or Dia de Los Muertos), a day in which special dishes are prepared to commemorate the lives of the family members who have passed away. Many of these dishes are shared in family gatherings. They are also taken to the cemetery when visiting the graves of those family members who have departed. 

Besides the typical fiambre (a Guatemalan delicacy you have to try at least once in your life), I love ending a great family meal with something sweet that reminds me of back home. I was surprised that ayote en miel was so easy to make, one I knew my kids would love; I was right! And once you taste the sweetness of the syrup and the subtle nutty taste of the squash, you are going to love them too!

Ayote En Miel: A Juicy Dessert That Transcends Frontiers

Ayote en miel or ayote en dulce is among the most popular desserts for Día de Todos Los Santos and Lent across many Latin American countries. You will find the Honduras ayote en miel almost identical to the El Salvador dessert, let alone Guatemala’s version of this traditional dish. This dessert is typically eaten in Guatemala on Nov. 1st, along with Fiambre, jocotes en miel, and molletes. 

Ayote en miel recipe

The way to prepare ayote varies very little from one region to the next. For example, the El Salvador recipe starts from a light syrup made out of panela and spices, much like the Honduran recipe. In Guatemala, many (like me) add ginger to give the syrup a slightly spicy taste, while others like to put a fig leaf or even a little bit of orange zest.

But for what I could dig up, acorn squash, panela, allspice, and cinnamon are the three ingredients most ayote en miel recipes have in common. These ingredients infuse the ayote with a woodsy aroma and spicy taste. Panela or rapadura, also known as piloncillo in Mexico, is unrefined whole cane sugar. It is typical of Central and Latin America, used in many traditional recipes instead of white sugar. It has a more robust flavor than regular sugar and darker color that gives desserts a golden touch.

One of the things I love about the ayotes en dulce recipe is that it’s quick and easy to make. It’s one of my go-to Guatemalan desserts when squash and pumpkin are in season. So although I do make it for our family when we’re celebrating our loved ones on November 1st para el Dia de Todos Los Santos, it’s a family favorite easy Guatemalan recipe any day of the week.  

What is Ayote?

Ayote is a species of winter squash native to Latin America, somewhere between a pumpkin and acorn squash. If you have a hard time finding ayote, you can make this recipe using acorn squash. Since we share a rich history and great weather, you will find many traditional recipes across Central America using the same ingredients. One very popular Guatemalan dessert (and also in El Salvador and Honduras) is ayote en miel or ayote en dulce. This is a sweet squash in honey syrup usually served during Lent or Day of the Dead celebrations.

Acorn squash or ayote

I would like to point out that All Saints Day or Día de Todos Los Santos is on November 1st, and Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Difuntos) is on November 2nd. Similar to Day of the Dead in Mexico, this holiday is focused on honoring the memory of loved ones that are no longer with us. 

How to Make Traditional Guatemalan Ayote en Miel:

Whether you’re looking for the ayote en miel recipe from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, or Nicaragua, it is almost the same across Central America. 

Ayote en miel from Honduras

Ingredients

  • 1 Ayote (or acorn squash), medium size
  • ½ lb. of panela (piloncillo) or regular sugar
  • ½ a cinnamon stick
  • ½ a ginger root
  • 1 whole allspice seed 
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Wash the ayote (acorn squash) thoroughly and cut it into smaller pieces.
  2. In a large pot, place the ayote, panela, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Add enough water without covering the ayote and bring to a boil.
  3. Cook over medium heat until the ayote is soft and absorbs most of the miel (syrup).
  4. Serve the ayote warm or cold in a deep dish bathed in its sweet syrup.

Guatemalan traditional dessert Ayote en dulce or ayote en miel

Make Ahead of Time

You can make this Guatemalan dessert the same day, but I like cooking it ahead of time. When I finish simmering the squash, I let it cool off on my kitchen counter. Then I store it in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator; it lasts about 15 days. Well, that is, if my kids and husband raid the fridge, then it only lasts about an hour! 

Other Traditional Guatemalan Recipes for Day of the Dead or All Saints Day

  • Fiambre: A traditional Guatemalan food made from loads of veggies, cold cuts, cheeses, and a delicious caldillo rolled up into an elegant cold salad. It is the main dish prepared specially for Dia de Los Santos on November 1st.
  • Molletes: Molletes is a traditional Guatemalan dessert perfect for the Day of the Dead or All Saints Day festivities. Quite different from the Mexican molletes, Guatemalan molletes are similar to stuffed French toast. The sweet bread is stuffed with custard soaked in a delicious syrup made with panela or raw sugar and rum.
  • Jocotes en miel: Jocotes en Miel is a traditional Guatemalan food commonly served around the Day of the Dead celebrations. These juicy jocotes (hog plums) are cooked in a bubbling sweet syrup and heavenly spices.

jocotes en miel Guatemalan traditional dessert for Day of the Dead

  • Torrejas:  Similar to French toast, torrejas are sweet bread or brioche soaked in a milk or eggs mixture before frying them in oil. Then, you usually bathe them in a sweet syrup made from boiling water and spices. 

Ayotes en miel is a simple and easy Guatemalan dessert recipe perfect for the fall and winter months!  This traditional Guatemalan food is also popular in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras. In addition, it is prepared across many homes on November 1st on All Saints Day for Day of the Dead festivities.

Guatemalan traditional dessert Ayote en dulce or ayote en miel

Ayotes en Miel or Ayote en Dulce

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

A very easy and delicious traditional dessert from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador.

Ingredients

  • 1 Ayote (or acorn squash), medium size
  • ½ lb. of panela (piloncillo) or regular sugar
  • ½ a cinnamon stick
  • ½ a ginger root
  • 1 whole allspice seed
  • Water

Instructions

    1. Wash the ayote (acorn squash) thoroughly and cut it into smaller pieces.
    2. In a large pot, place the ayote, panela, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Add enough water without covering the ayote and bring to a boil.
    3. Cook over medium heat until the ayote is soft and absorbs most of the miel (syrup).
    4. Serve the ayote warm or cold in a deep dish bathed in its sweet syrup.
Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: 3.5 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 70

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