Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wild Blueberry & Lemon Love Balls (Astarpungar): An Icelandic Sweet Treat for the NORTH Festival, a Celebration of Nordic Cuisine

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with the upcoming NORTH Festival in New York City. The content is 100% my own

In case you missed the memo, I adore Iceland. Reykjavik is an incredible city, and the surrounding countryside is breathtakingly beautiful. I am well aware that I'm incredibly fortunate to have had the chance to visit twice: once for a combination holiday and research trip for an article for Culture magazine, and a second time as part of an impromptu girls' weekend, aka the Hangover, Lady Edition. 

And so when Honest Cooking contacted me to do a post sharing my love of Iceland as part of the upcoming NORTH Festival in New York, I was more than happy to oblige. I was given complete freedom to write about anything I wanted, and naturally I knew my topic would be food.

Along with its stunning scenery and lovely people, Iceland also happens to boast a fabulous cuisine, thanks in no small part to the high quality of the indigenous ingredients. I've shared my version of lamb stew, or kjotsupa, here on Tasty Trix, and I made an Icelandic-inspired lobster soup for Style magazine. So for this post I thought I'd do something a little different and share a sweet treat I enjoyed on my last trip: love balls, or astarpungar:
According to my Icelandic friend Eirny, who owns the adorable cheese shop Burid in Reykjavik, astarpungar's literal translation is a word for a portion of male anatomy. I will leave that to your imagination, though I expect the shape should provide you with a rather significant clue. 

On my last trip to Iceland, the first thing Eirny did upon picking me up at the Reykjavik airport after my all-night flight was take me for a rejuvenating breakfast of love balls and chocolate milk. Traditionally they don't contain blueberries, but I remember Eirny telling me that as a kid she liked to put wild blueberries on her skyr, so I thought they'd make a fun addition. I was right. 

Eat these love balls while they're still hot and crispy!

Wild Blueberry & Lemon Love Balls
makes approximately 2 dozen 

2 cups pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup cugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup wild blueberries (I used frozen)
canola oil, for frying

Combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the egg and buttermilk together. Add to the dry ingredients and incorporate - the batter will be fairly thick. Fold in the lemon zest and blueberries. 

Heat 2 inches of canola oil in a deep skillet to 350 F. Drop the batter in by heaping teaspoonfuls and fry about 1/12 minutes before turning the love balls over and frying for another 1 - 1/2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. 

These are best eaten hot, as they're crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, but they're fine the next day as well, though they do lose their crispiness. 

Learn more about Nordic cuisine at the NORTH Festival 2013 in New York City. This post is a collaboration between the blogger and NORTH Festival 2013. 

NORTH Festival


  1. I'm not sure if it would surprise you to know that I quite enjoy astarpungar, especially in the morning. I just know it's going to be a good day when I get to start it with a good astarpungar chew. Nobody has ever offered me blueberries with their astarpungar before but there is a first time for everything. You never know if you don't try it, right? For if I didn't believe THAT I never would have enjoyed astarpungar in the first place. Personally, I like to delicately dance my tongue around the astarpungar before taking them into my mouth and tasting them completely. Astarpungar are for eating although I imagine they are fun to play with as well?

    1. I am not at all surprised. I think we have similar philosophies when it comes to astarpungar. And they really are best fresh!

  2. Wow! These sound and look so delicious! My good friend spent several weeks traveling through Iceland, his photos and stories were amazing! So beautiful, who knew?

  3. Absolutely delectable. I would dive head first in to these love balls (that's...what...she...said)

  4. these look awesome and congrats on all the articles your fab

  5. Hot love balls...

    Really, what else needs to be said?

  6. Well, like Trevor I've never had blueberries with my love balls, but I am certainly willing to try! I have never heard of this treat, as I know ZIP about Icelandic cuisine. I love learning about it.

    These are especially tempting as they are deep fried. Deep fried, is by my standard, always a good thing. And deep fried love balls - well, that is just too good to be true!

  7. This festival is getting my attention. Now If I just could get myself to NY> GREG