My gran’s pumpkin fritters | Pampoen koekies

Light and fluffy pumpkin fritters (pampoen koekies) with caramel sauce. This recipe handed down to me by my gran is nostalgia on a plate.

Pumpkin fritters

Whenever my gran brought a tray of these delicious pumpkin fritters out after lunch, I jumped up and down like only a little girl in love with her gran’s cooking can. I was obsessed with the light and fluffy fritters covered in sticky, gooey sauce. And now, years later, I feel no different.

Pumpkin fritters

Whilst writing my first book my beloved gran passed away and even though I was heartbroken, the memories I have of her will always put a smile on my face. Like the number of times I begged her to bake cookies with me. We rolled out the dough, cut the cookies and I waited patiently whilst the first batch was in the oven. The moment they were cool enough to touch, I would take the whole tray and go sit in the corner, scoffing them one by one, leaving my gran to roll out, cut and bake the rest.

She never got irritated and she never became impatient. I learned that food could heal and that the kitchen was a place that things were forgiven. Her memory will forever live on in our minds and hearts and most definitely also her recipes. She changed the way our family thought about food and she was most definitely the biggest food influence in my life. I learned to cook by her knee. I miss her everyday but I’m sad while doing so, because a life like hers should only be celebrated.

Caramel sauce for pumpkin fritters

Back to these phenomenal pumpkin fritters (or as we call them in Afrikaans, Pampoen koekies), they really are all they are hyped up to be. I once cooked a fellow food blogger friend a batch and he proceeded to eat close to 20. In one sitting. They are rich, sticky, buttery and absolutely drool-worthy.

My gran used to serve them with this caramel sauce and I remember it being a light coloured but incredibly rich sauce. I normally allow it to cook a bit more to get a deeper colour but then you might need to add a bit more cream. I also added a pinch of salt flakes as the salty caramel works so well with the pumpkin.  Everyone I feed these to falls instantly in love with my ouma’s pampoen koekies and I guarantee that you will too!

Pumpkin frittersThis recipe first appeared in my cookbook Simple & Delicious: Recipes from the heart, published by Penguin Books SA in 2012. 

My gran's pumpkin fritters | Pampoen koekies
 
Light and fluffy pumpkin fritters (pampoen koekies) with caramel sauce. This recipe handed down to me by my gran is nostalgia on a plate.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert, South African, Pumpkin
Serves: approx 20
Ingredients
For the fritters
  • 1 cup pumpkin, cooked and pureed
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • pinch of salt
  • oil, for deep frying
For the Caramel Sauce
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup golden syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
Instructions
For the fritters
  1. Combine all the ingredients and mix until you have a smooth batter.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and fry spoonfuls of the batter until golden brown and cooked throughout, approximately 2-3 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oil and allow to drain on kitchen paper.
  4. Continue until all the fritters are cooked.
For the Caramel Sauce
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and allow to cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the sauce is thick and glossy.
  2. Pour the syrup over the fritters and serve.

More South African recipes you will love:

Malva pudding with frozen custard

Malva pudding with frozen custard

Rooibos tea peach punch

Rooibos tea peach punch

Smoked snoek fish cakes with tartare sauce 

Smoked Snoek Fish Cakes

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Showing 69 comments
  • Desree
    Reply

    Oh my pumpkin goodness! Just joined a catamaran in the caribbean and was looking for yummy dessert ideas and came across this recipe from South Africa 🙂 Just made it for the boys to see their reactions and they were fighting over the last few with caramel sauce dripping all over the place! This is by far the best pampoen koekie recipe I have ever tasted. Mmmm felt like I was home for a while 🙂 thank you for sharing

  • Eden Passante
    Reply

    These look beyond amazing! Pumpkin and caramel together!? Sign me up!

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

      Glad you like the look of them! 🙂 They really are too good to be true.

  • Alida Ryder
    Reply

    You could use corn syrup or honey. Golden syrup is often sold in little cans, so if you can find it, that would be great as that will give the authentic flavour you’re looking for.

  • Danielle
    Reply

    What would you substitute for the golden syrup, as I don’t think we have that in the US?

  • Alida Ryder
    Reply

    What a lovely idea!

  • sirdaveysockrocker
    Reply

    can i add chocolate chips? maybe the small ones? Or would that mess them up when frying.

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

      I’m sure you could, I’ve never done that before so not sure how they would turn out once fried, but maybe give them a go and see?

  • Debbie
    Reply

    The caramel sauce is amazing, but if you want something not quite as sweet, try these fritters with apple butter or pumpkin butter. Delicious!

  • Holly
    Reply

    I have made these several times and they are so delicious and addicting. I’d like to make them for a party, wondering if the batter can be mixed ahead of time and chilled until ready to fry?

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

      Thanks Holly.

      You know, I’m sure you could. Just watch out for the baking powder as it gets activated the moment the wet ingredients are added. My gran used to make this and keep it warm in huge trays covered with foil before hand.

  • Rachel
    Reply

    What kind of pumpkin do you use? Butternut squash my boyfriend is from South Africa and we would love to make these.

  • Allison
    Reply

    I was wondering if you could just use the pumpkin in a can? These look and sound delish!! Thank you

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

      Allison, I’ve never used pumpkin from a can but I’m sure it should be fine as long as it’s not too wet.

  • Alida Ryder
    Reply

    Castor sugar is also known as superfine sugar and golden syrup is similar to honey except it’s different in flavour.

    • Barbara S. Van Dyck
      Reply

      And made from corn

  • Peggy
    Reply

    What is castor sugar and what is golden syrup

  • Guillaumé
    Reply

    Hi, don’t be sad for Ouma, be happy with your memories of her as she is not sad.

    Any chance of a Vegan equivalent? I have just been given a half Pampoen and although I have been in S.A. for 40 years I have not eaten it since the first time 40 years ago,
    I lost so many kilo’s through “durchfallen” that today i am still as skinny as a rake..

    durchfallen: German. through fall: English literal translation. durchfallen is a much more descriptive word.

  • Chante
    Reply

    I recently made these for a dinner party with family and they were to-die-for. I served them sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar as my three year old cousin is diabetic. Everyone loved them! I doubled the recipe and came out with about 50 and between the 8 of us they were gone within minutes. My little brother and I were eating them as is straight from the pan! The best pumpkin fritter recipe I have ever tried. Thank you for posting this recipe!

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

      Ah wow, so glad you liked them so much. I have to say, they are definitely in my top 5 things to eat! Love them!

  • Alida Ryder
    Reply

    Isn’t it lovely to be able to cook from your gran’s cookbooks?

  • Mike Olliges
    Reply

    Loved the stories about your gran. I have many fine cooking memories about my grandmother as well and often think about her while I cook.

  • Alida Ryder
    Reply

    Thanks so much!

  • Loving Life Naturally
    Reply

    Amazingly beautiful! I love your photography <3

  • Liz Posmyk
    Reply

    Oh, what a lovely recipe! Pleased to have found your blog via El.

  • Alida Ryder
    Reply

    So glad you liked it Andie. And thanks for the note about the substitutions. (Caster sugar is also referred to as Super Fine sugar, if I’m not mistaken)

  • Andie
    Reply

    These were incredible! I made them for a family party and they were talked about for weeks afterward. I have a certain love for pumpkin spice so I added it to both the batter and the sauce and it was gorgeous. Like some other people, I couldn’t find caster sugar or golden syrup in my local stores so I substituted Truvia baking sugar (no calories yay!) and caro syrup respectively. Devine even with the substitutes!

    Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  • Alida Ryder
    Reply

    Peter, I used butternut for this version but I’ve also used ‘boerpampoen’ which is a round, orange-fleshed pumpkin. I think almost any pumpkin will work for this. You could even try it with sweet potato.

  • Peter
    Reply

    what types of pumpkin do you use

  • Mar
    Reply

    I have a useful note for anyone who doesn’t have golden syrup or caster sugar!
    As I made these, I did some research on caster sugar. I just ground granulated sugar in my coffee grinder, since caster sugar is basically a finer-grained sugar. Don’t grind it TOO much, or you’ll get powdered sugar!
    And for the syrup, instead of 1/2 cup golden syrup, I used 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup pancake syrup (log cabin syrup). It may not have tasted as yummy and caramely as this recipe, but was still gooey and tasty! Hope this helps anyone!
    And the pumpkin fritters were BEYOND delicious! Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

  • Shanna
    Reply

    Do you think I could use applesauce instead of the pumpkin?

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

      Shanna, I think apple sauce might be too runny so you’ll have to use lots of flour and that might result in a tough fritter.

    • kathy
      Reply

      Perhaps after draining the applesauce in a coffee-filter lined strainer?

  • Heidi
    Reply

    This recipe looks incredible and what a legacy for your gran to leave. Wow, show stopper. Pinned and Pinned!

  • Ashley Jean
    Reply

    what is pumpkin cooked? is it a puree?

  • Susan Andrews
    Reply

    I want to make these but what is golden syrup? I’ve never heard of it.

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

      Susan, golden syrup is a syrup similar to maple syrup but with the consistency of runny honey. I’m sure you’ll be able to find it or something similar at a grocery store.

      • Susan Andrews
        Reply

        Thank you!

  • Shobee
    Reply

    Love the pictures…

  • Candy
    Reply

    I’d love to try these but I have a couple of quick questions. What is golden syrup? And can I use regular sugar instead of caster sugar? Thanks!

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

      Candy, golden syrup is a British product, similar to maple syrup but with the consistency of runny honey. I’m sure you’d be able to find it in a grocery store. It often comes in little tins.

      • Bonita
        Reply

        Golden Syrup is not widely available in the United States. It is an invert sugar (which kind of gives it it’s gooey-ness) and the only widely available invert sugar syrup is corn syrup (a cheap knock-off of golden syrup) It works well in this recipe, and although maple syrup or honey gives the sauce a different consistency they work ok too with 1/4 c honey and 1/4 c maple syrup.

        • Peggy Robinson
          Reply

          Golden syrup is found in stores like Wholefoods, Kings, maybe Trader Joe’s not sure. I grew up using it on pancakes and serving with a slice of lemon. It is in a green can. We never used maple syrup since I grew up under the British system.

          • Alida Ryder

            Thanks for your comment Peggy!

  • Lori Lange
    Reply

    These look SOOOOO good!

  • Asha Shivakumar
    Reply

    Omg, saw these on FG and had to visit. Your memories are so beautiful with your grandma and these fritters are gorgeous and of course who could stop at 2-3…btw love your pictures. I am pinning …

  • sugar&spice
    Reply

    This takes me back to SUnday afternoon spread on the ‘platteland’! It is close to pudding and your pictures is devine! WEll done and thanks…my mom sometimes also made it with sweet potatoes 🙂

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