Pampoenkoekies or South Africans pumpkin donuts are today’s stars on 196 flavors!
South Africans pumpkins are always very popular in pantries all over the country. It even seems that under the roof of some houses, the ground is littered with pumpkins because it is a vegetable that resists many weeks and is used in many dishes and desserts.
Pumpkin and winter squash (also called buttercup squash) are sometimes confused. So, for our pampoenkoekies, should you use pumpkin or winter squash as they are not exactly the same.
One thing for sure though is that they are both squash. At first glance, pumpkin and winter squash are very similar, but if you look at their appearance, their flesh or their taste, there are some differences between these two varieties of squash. Both of them are cucurbits.
Pumpkins belong to the Cucurbita pepo species, such as pattypan squash or zucchini, and winter squash belong to the Cucurbita maxima, such as red kuri squash.
But, did you know that even if they are consumed more like vegetables, both of them are actually fruits? They are enormous fruits which, when matured, can weigh a few dozen pounds.
Pumpkin always comes in a round shape whereas winter squash, depending on the variety, can be round, or flattened. The color of pumpkin is orange or similar tones, while the color of winter squash varies from orange to dark green or reddish to yellow.
If sometimes the two can be similar and visually confusing, here is a way to distinguish them more easily at the market: you have to look at their peduncle, the stalk that connects the fruit to the bearing stem.
For pumpkin, the peduncle is hard and fibrous. For winter squash, the peduncle is softer to the touch and its edges are more rounded. Its shape is cylindrical at the top and enlarged at the base.
And what about the flavor profile?
Both, although fruits, are cooked more like vegetables and are usually eaten hot, in soups, mashed, pan-fried, or gratin.
When it comes to taste, the winter squash flesh is more generous, softer and sweeter than that of the pumpkin. It is also much less stringy. Seeds, whether pumpkin or winter squash, are edible. We used them, for example, in kanda meatballs from Central African Republic, chicken palava from Liberia or nyam ngond from Côte d’Ivoire. They can also be eaten roasted as a snack.
And if you’re going to celebrate Halloween, consider making a Jack’O-lantern to decorate your home or garden, you’re going to have to go with a pumpkin and not a winter squash as it is much easier to carve out and work its less dense flesh with a sharp knife.
Pampoenkoekies, when cooked with the baking powder in this recipe turned out very soft in addition to being light. These really melt in the mouth. They are in also deliciously perfumed.
South African pampoenkoekies are watered with a caramel sauce and eaten at breakfast or dessert, they can equally well be consumed as they come in or as an accompaniment since they are prepared with salt.
I just came back from an unforgettable weekend with friends in Normandy and it was there that we all tasted these pampoenkoekies. We had them both ways: as an appetizer for dinner and with caramel at breakfast. Even as you warm them up, they remain excellent!
- 1 lb pumpkin flesh
- 1 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- Vegetable oil for frying
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sweet butter
- 4 cups corn syrup
Boil the pumpkin, then drain and mash it. Let cool.
In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, flour, baking powder, sugar, milk, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir until homogeneous.
Generously pour oil into a non-stick skillet. Heat to medium heat until a temperature of 350 F.
Using a tablespoon or a pastry bag, pour small amounts of dough into the hot oil and fry 2 minutes on each side.
Do not overcrowd the pan as the pampoenkokies will swell when cooking.
Place them on a paper towel lined plate.
Pour the water and sugar into a saucepan and mix.
Add corn syrup and continue stirring.
Heat over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes without mixing the caramel, as it may crystallize.
Reduce heat to low/medium and gently add cream and butter, to avoid any splattering. Finally, stir the mixture to reach a smooth consistency. Remove from heat and let cool.
Serve with pampoenkokies.