A malasada is a pastry treat in Hawaii, similar to a donut without a hole. It is very popular and best eaten while still warm. You may find malasadas in bakeries, coffee carts or even as a dessert in restaurants.
1. Malasadas came to Hawaii from Portugal with plantation workers in the late 1800’s. Portuguese families had their own recipes. While popular any time, malasadas were traditionally associated with Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras). Reportedly, they were first sold commercially in 1952 at Leonard’s Bakery. Leonard’s is still a popular stop for visitors who want an authentic malasada, along with Champion Malasadas. However, they are sold many other places, including school fund-raisers and carnivals. The malasada booth is always in demand at the annual Punahou Carnival in February. One bread store I pass regularly puts a sign in the window when the malasadas are done so we know to stop in.
2. Malasadas are generally about the size of a lemon — larger than a donut hole but not quite as large as a donut. They are deep-fried and have the same light texture as a donut. Usually they are not glazed but are rolled in sugar or cinnamon sugar. Traditional malasadas did not have fillings, but Champion now offers two kinds of filled malasadas: custard-filled malasadas topped with powdered sugar or chocolate-pudding-filled malasadas topped with a chocolate glaze. Leonard’s sells a “malasada puff” that comes with custard, haupia or dobash filling. It is more like a filled donut but not quite as sweet because it is not glazed. They are also featuring special fillings that change every two months, such as macadamia, lilikoi, mango, guava, pineapple and banana. Sounds like a treat that belongs in Hawaii, doesn’t it?
3. The malasada is gone in step three, happily consumed with wonderful Hawaii hot chocolate or coffee! One further note. The malasada is often compared with another popular pastry in Hawaii, the andagi, which originated in Okinawa. While a malasada has the texture of a donut, an andagi is more like a deep-fried cupcake. You really should try them both so you can make the comparison for yourself.