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Transport yourself to the Hawaiian islands with these soft, puffy, sugary clouds of goodness known as “malasadas”
What Are Malasadas?
Malasadas are basically Hawaii’s version of a yeast doughnut. Even though malasadas have Portuguese origins (specifically the Azores and Madeira regions) and could be considered more of a Portuguese dessert, they have become widely popular in Hawaii, which is where I was introduced to them. They don’t have a hole and more often than not, they are served plain with no filling. Instead of being glazed, they are dusted with sugar. It’s like eating a puffy, fried, sugary cloud. SO GOOD.
Where To Find Malasadas
The most popular place in Hawaii to find malasadas is Leonard’s Bakery on Oahu. However, it’s not the only place to find them. You can find them on different islands including Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. You can find them in restaurants or bakeries. When I lived in Hawaii there was a malasada food truck that would come around every once in a while and park across the street from where I lived. Also, the bakery that I worked at in Hawaii would make them every once in a while. Have I mentioned I worked at a bakery in Hawaii? It was the best job ever… even if it did make me gain the Hawaii 5-0. Totally worth it.
If you have been to Leanard’s Bakery in Hawaii, you know about the haupia filled malasadas. They are PERFECTION. If you are wanting to make a haupia custard from scratch, I have included the recipe below (AND a cheater version to make it even easier). However, you can fill your malasadas with any kind of custard, pudding, cream, or even guava or fruit filling, just make sure it’s thick enough to pipe into the malasada (you don’t want a thin, runny filling).
A popular time to eat malasadas in on “Malasada Day”, which is the day before Ash Wednesday, aka “Fat Tuesday… aka “Mardi Gras”. Instead of celebrating with beignets and beads, celebrate the Hawaiian way and load up with all your favorite kinds of malasadas!
Tips For Making Malasadas
- If your yeast doesn’t foam, your yeast is probably bad/non-active and the recipe won’t work.Your dough won’t rise. It’s easier to throw it out and start over than to try and make it work with non-active yeast.
- If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can mix with an electric mixer in a large bowl. When the dough starts getting too thick to mix with the hand mixer, remove from bowl and knead on a floured surface.
- To fry your malasadas, consistent heating is key. I used an electric fondue pot so I could set the temp to 350 and it automatically regulated (I actually like using this more than my deep fryer, it’s WAY easier to clean) . If you don’t have a way to set the temperature or are heating the oil on your stove, I highly recommend using a cooking thermometer to keep the temperature right at 350.
- Roll your malasadas in the cinnamon sugar as soon as you are able to handle them without getting burned. Don’t let them cool too much or the sugar won’t stick as well.
- The haupia custard from scratch is SO GOOD but can also be a little intense and inconsistent. If you want to make things extra easy, you can totally cheat and just use instant coconutpudding or white chocolatepudding with a little coconut extract.
- Serve them the day you make them. Like any fried dessert, these taste best the day of. Nothing beats a warm malasada served minutes after being taken out of the fryer!
More Hawaii Inspired Desserts
- Authentic Haupia
- Chocolate Haupia Pie
- Guava Cake
- Coconut Cream Pie
- Coconut Cream Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting
- Pina Colada Cake
Malasadas (Plain or Haupia Filled)
- Heat the milk in a glass liquid measuring cup in the microwave for 1 minute. In the bowl of a stand mixer*, combine the hot milk with the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar. Stir lightly, and let sit until the mixture is foamy*, about 5 minutes (*see "tips" above).
- Using the dough hook and beat the eggs, butter, ¼ cup sugar and salt into the yeast mixture. Add half of the flour (2 cups plus ¼ cup), and mix until combined, then mix in the rest of the flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It's ok if it is still a little tacky (see picture above). Add more flour, about 2 tablespoons at a time, if the dough is still too sticky.
- Grease a large bowl with a little oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray (so the dough won't stick to it if it rises a lot). Let rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and cut into 16 equal pieces. Take each piece and pinch into a ball shape being careful not to overwork. Once it's nice and round, pat each piece between your hands, flattening it out a little so it looks like a fat disc. Optional: Place each dough piece on a 4" square of parchment paper, this will make it easier to handle gently and put in the oil after they rise. Cover dough pieces with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until they puff up, about 45 minutes.
- About 10 minutes before the doughnuts are done rising, heat oil to 350-degrees in a deep fryer or Dutch oven (I actually used my electirc fondue pot and it worked perfectly). Carefully add the malasadas to the oil, a few at a time. Be careful not to crowd them. When the bottoms are deep golden, after 45 seconds to a minute, use a metal slotted spoon or wooden chopstick to flip; cook until they’re deep golden all over.
- Use a slotted spoon or oil strainer to carefully remove malasadas to a plate or cooling rack lined with paper towels.
- Once the malasadas are cool enough to handle (but still very warm), roll in sugar until well coated and set aside. Serve immediately.
For Haupia Filled Malasadas:
- Heat milk in a heavy saucepan over medium low heat until hot but not boiling. While milk heats, whisk together yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl until smooth. SLOWLY add 1 cup hot coconut milk mixture to yolk mixture while whisking constantly. Slowly add remaining milk, still whisking constantly. Transfer mixture to saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and coconut extract. Cover and chill 3-4 hours until cold and thick.
- Place haupia filling in a piping bag. Poke a hole into each malasada with the back of a chopstick (or a dowel). Place tip of the bag into the hole and fill until full. Serve immediately.
- If you don't feel like going through the process to make the filling from scratch, just use a package of instant coconut pudding and use ½ cup less milk than what the package reccomends (or just add milk until you reach the consistency you want). Use 2-3 packages to fill all 16 doughnuts.