Latin Twist: Pumpkin Fritters


This summer I had the privilege of visiting Block Island, which is just off the coast of Rhode Island. If you’ve been there, you know that Block Island, with its idyllic views, fabulous fish, and gorgeous beaches is a dream come true in many ways. Well, I did share, on my In the Kitchen blog, a recipe that I prepared. But what I didn’t share was one of the most amazing delights I enjoyed: Paynes’ “Killer” Donuts.

Holiday cooking: Ideas and recipes for Halloween.

(I enjoyed them, by the way, after a multi-mile bike ride, chock full of scenic vistas of amazing homes, cows, and of course, the ocean. I waited on line with many other eager fans, and, like the others, couldn’t resist until I returned to the house to try one of the warm and aromatic treats!)

So, what do donuts have to do with Latin Twist? Let me connect the dots!

When I tried these donuts (bought a dozen—cinnamon, sugar, and plain—but couldn’t wait until I got back to the house to start munching), I was reminded of that just-fried dough + sugar flavor. And, wow, remembered my pumpkin fritters. Now stay with me, my friends!

More recipes: great one-post meals.

Look, though we may have many differences, so many cultures enjoy fried dough—both as a savory and sweet treat. My pumpkin experience was broadened by my year in Peru (I will share my sopa de zapallo—pumpkin soup—next week), and when I collected recipes for Calypso Coolers, this was one I just couldn’t leave out. This is one of those snacks you might want to have on hand for friends on Halloween; your house will smell terrific (these, by the way, are just perfect with some warm rum-spiked-or-not cider!).  And okay—I have to mention—for a grown-up brunch, these Bajan-inspired treats are just heavenly with a recipe I posted last month: the Jamaican Banana Cooler!  (By the way, both are in Calypso Coolers which you can find, amongst a collection of so many wonderful books, at La Casa Azul Bookstore, in NYC!) They’d even be a great idea for Hanukkah!

These addictive puffs of pumpkin are slightly crispy on the outside—and melt-in-your-mouth soft on the inside. Kids love them—and can certainly help with the mixing. Depending on the age of your children, they can also help with the frying.   Though they’re a bit uneven looking—since it’s hard to make this batter into a perfect ball—they’ll win you over at first bite!

Latin Twist: Pumpkin Fritters

Yield: About 12 fritters

Latin Twist: Pumpkin Fritters

Adapted from Calypso Coolers, by Arlen Gargagliano, ©2006 (photo by Ellie Miller)


  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée or 1 fifteen-ounce can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filler!)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Powdered sugar for garnish


  1. In large bowl, combine all ingredients except oil. Mix just until blended. Place oil to a depth of 1 inch in a deep, heavy skillet. Test oil for hotness by dropping a small bit of batter into it; it should rise pretty quickly. Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls into hot oil but be careful not to crowd the skillet. Also turn the fritters over so they brown evenly. They cook very quickly, in between 1 to 3 minutes. Drain well on paper towels. Serve immediately (or reheat in a 400 degree F. oven for about 10 minutes). Sprinkle powdered sugar on top just prior to serving.



About Author

Maybe it was the dinner parties my mom always threw—or the hours I spent prepping and cooking alongside her (and then on my own!). Or maybe it was array of fabulous dishes that my family sampled in New York City’s richly diverse restaurants, but I’ve loved creating, savoring, and sharing food for as long as I can remember. Living in Spain, and later in Peru, also greatly influenced my life. These years abroad taught me Spanish—and about living in different countries--but also introduced me to teaching English as a second language, which I’ve done—mostly in the US-- for the past 20-plus (yikes!) years. I’ve authored two cocktail/tapas books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers, coauthored more than 15 others (mostly food related!), and raised two children. Now I'm chef and owner of my own restaurant, Mambo 64 in Tuckahoe, New York. My message is the same, whether I'm teaching, writing, running the restaurant or being a regular guest on the Spanish-language network Telemundo (on the morning show, Buenos Días Nueva York!). My belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one: the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth. Enjoy!

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