Love Balls (ástarpungar) – The Icelandic doughnuts’ cousin

A few months back, we gave you a recipe for the quintessential Icelandic fried pastry; kleinur. Now we’re going to provide you with a recipe for its cousin. It has raisins, so it’s not everyone’s favourite, but if you like raisins in food, this is for you!

Ástarpungar or Love Balls are not nearly as old as kleinur; the oldest sources for it in Iceland are from the 1920s. The oldest source of kleinur is from the 14th century.

The name ástarpungur technically means love testicles, probably so named due to its shape. They are sometimes called ástarkúlur – or love balls – as well, which is usually used in English. It just sounds better than love testicles.

Why is it the cousin of kleinur, I hear you ask. Well, that’s because the dough is pretty much the same, apart from the added raisins. They’re also deep-fried like kleinur, so the love balls shouldn’t be hard if you have tried to make them. If you haven’t tried frying kleinur, I recommend beginning with this recipe.

Photo: The Iceland Food Centre

Ingredients of Love Balls

4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 ½ cut whole milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ cup raisins
25-34 oz. frying oil


Combine flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla essence and mix with a mixing spoon. Add the raisins and mix.
Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot. Form small balls with two small tablespoons and fry in the oil until light brown. Do not make the balls too large because it will take longer to fry, and it is possible they won’t fry all the way through. You also have to ensure the oil won’t get too hot, and the balls might become too dark.

Incredibly good, newly baked with milk or coffee. The recipe will make 34-36 balls.

If you are in Iceland and do not have access to a kitchen, you can buy Love balls in almost every bakery as well as the grocery store, such as Bónus and Krónan.

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