Grandma’s Bilharacos

My grandma cooks like an angel. When I was a child, I knew that even if I didn’t like certain dish, I was going to love it if she was the one who made it.


Her way of cooking is effortless… Don’t misjudge me, she spends hours in the kitchen but she doesn’t need any measuring cups, scales, cookbooks and certainly any Pinterest inspiration. Cooking is a natural gift for her.

When you try to learn how to make one of her recipes is a bit difficult. The only way is to be with her while she’s preparing it and take notes.

My mom tried to do this with the recipe of Bilharacos, a Portuguese dessert that me and my family love. These were the notes she could take:

  • ½ medium pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast dissolved in a little bit of warm water
  • Sugar to taste
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • All-purpose flour to give consistency (but not too much)

Yeah… a little bit blurry for my lack of experience!

I thought: at least I know I need 1 teaspoon of dry yeast… But then I realized that it was possible that she was referring to a coffee teaspoon, not a measuring teaspoon!

Well, grandma… With some phone-advisement, I was able to make Bilharacos and, better than that, standardize the recipe!

This one goes to my family ❤


Bilharacos: 8 big Bilharacos

Grandma’s recipe

  • 1 ½ cup (375g) pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast (yes, I tried with a measuring teaspoon and it worked)
  • 1/8 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 2 tablespoons of regular sugar
  • ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon


  • Dissolve yeast in the warm water and set aside.
  • Sift flour, powdered sugar and cinnamon.
  • Mix yeast and the pumpkin puree in a medium bowl.
  • Add the flour, sugar and cinnamon mixture and combine.
  • Set a saucepan at medium high temperature with vegetable oil enough for deep-frying.
  • Line a tray with paper towel.
  • Form one Bilharaco with an ice cream scoop or as a quenelle using two spoons.
  • Deep-fry the Bilharaco and observe if it stays altogether. If it doesn’t, the mixture needs more flour. The right amount of flour is just enough to keep the dumpling together when it’s fried.


  • Adjust flour if it’s necessary.
  • Form one Bilharaco and fry it immediately. Do this one by one because they won’t keep their form while not cooked.
  • They will turn dark brown, almost like if they were burned. But trust me, they will taste amazing with a caramelized crust outside and a super soft inside.
  • Put them in the tray with paper towel.
  • Combine the regular sugar and the remaining cinnamon in a small bowl.
  • While Bilharacos are still warm, roll them in the sugar-cinnamon mix.


They are better when still warm.



Serving: 1 Bilharaco

Calories: 105

Total Fat (g): 6.3

Carbohydrates (g): 12.3

Protein (g): 0.8


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