These Mini Doughnuts in a Spiced Gin Syrup is based on a recipe for Gulab Jamun, those delicious semolina dumplings popular on the Indian subcontinent as well as South African. Deep fried, they are a combination of traditional South African koeksisters, koesisters and doughnuts.

Mini Doughnuts in a Spiced Gin Syrup

I have taken my usual liberty with a traditional recipe but wanted to give it an adult dinner party appeal and added some local handcrafted gin to the syrup. On top of that the syrup is infused with cardamon, bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon and some citrus peel to give maximum flavour. There is a definite chill in the air in Cape Town and these warming flavours define the flavours of autumn and winter to me. Choose the spices and botanicals that appeal to you most and add them to the basic syrup.

The South African craft gin scene is hot and happening with countless distillers creating really good products to choose from, infused with botanicals like fynbos, buchu, hibiscus and blood orange. All of which will work in this recipe and add another layer of flavour.

Mini Doughnuts in a Spiced Gin Syrup

The dough for the mini doughnuts are made with self raising flour, semolina and milk powder. No yeast so making the batter takes a matter of minutes and as you remove the fried mini doughnuts from the oil you pop them into the hot syrup. They will soak it up and get plumper and plumper the longer they soak. I suggest at least an hour of soaking in the syrup to become these delicious soft syrupy balls. So good!

You can also serve the fried dumplings with a bit of the gin you used in the syrup. Served it in a small glass over some crushed ice.

Mini Doughnuts in a Spiced Gin Syrup

I hope you enjoy this recipe for Mini Doughnuts in a Spiced Gin Syrup. If you’ve made the recipe share it with me by tagging @heinstirred on Instagram with the hashtag #heinstirred.

Mini Doughnuts in a Spiced Gin Syrup


  • Makes about 18 mini doughnuts - serves 4
  • Syrup:
  • 200g sugar
  • 250ml water
  • Peel of 1 naartjie (all the pith removed with a sharp knife)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 85 ml hand crafted South African gin
  • Doughnuts:
  • 100 g full cream milk powder
  • 25g self-raising flour
  • 10g semolina
  • 30ml vegetable oil
  • 60ml milk
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Toasted coconut flakes to serve


  1. Make the syrup by placing the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved
  2. Add the rest of the syrup ingredients and keep it on a low heat while making the doughnuts
  3. Place the milk powder, flour, semolina and oil in a bowl
  4. Add the milk and mix to a soft dough
  5. Let the dough stand for about 5 - 10 minutes to thicken and then roll the dough into 18 small doughnuts
  6. Heat oil in a large pan and fry the doughnuts until light golden brown
  7. Keep swirling the doughnuts in the oil so that they brown evenly (the oil must not be too hot as the doughnuts will brown too quickly but be uncooked inside)
  8. Once cooked, remove the doughnuts with a slotted spoon, drain for a few seconds on kitchen towel and place in the warm syrup
  9. Let the doughnuts soak in the syrup for at least an hour
  10. Remove from the syrup and sprinkle with some toasted coconut flakes
  11. Serve some extra syrup on the side if desired
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This recipe first appeared in Food & Home Entertaining magazine

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