These babies are malasadas, also known as Hawaiian donuts, and they are divine. Balls of dough that are deep-fried in oil and rolled in granulated sugar, much like a donut, but minus the hole. Malasadas, best served warm, can be found at many roadside stands and local bakeries as well as on fine dinning menus all over the Hawaiian islands. If you are donuts lover already, it won’t take much convincing, trust me, these are hands-down worthy of your weekend time.
Although malasadas are a fried dessert pastry most commonly associated with Hawaii, what most don’t know is they actually originated in Portugal. Later, in the early 1800’s, Portuguese immigrants brought this sweet treat to the Hawaiian islands. Since that time, malasadas have become recognized both as an essential Portuguese confection as well as a traditional dish in Hawaiian cuisine.
Made from a high yeast content dough, malasadas fall within the sweet pastry category. The outside of these tasty treats are crisp, and the interior is buttery, light and fluffy. Like an American sugar donuts, malasadas are traditionally covered in a think white sugar coating (swoon). I have seen malasadas offered for breakfast and dessert, and although they are most often served straight up, it is not uncommon to see them served with jam, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce or vanilla ice cream, so seriously, anything goes.
Malasada Day (which is the day before Ash Wednesday), also coined “Fat Tuesday“, became popular in the 19th century because of the high number of Catholics to immigrated to Hawaii from Portugal. In preparation of Lent, it was common to make large batches of malasadas to share with neighbors and friends. In doing so, Catholics were able to use up their butter and sugar supplies in preparation for the the 40-day fasting period before Easter. Some believe, the practice of making this dessert before Lent is what let to malasadas increased popularity.
Since their first introduction all those many years ago, malasadas have become a Hawaiian island standard and a must-have when my family and I are visiting there. Although more readily available on the islands, these little sweet treats are gaining in popularity elsewhere such as in local specialty bakeries, so keep an eye out. But seriously, don’t leave it up to chance, these treats are not that difficult to make and I guarentee they will please just about anyone on a Saturday morning.
Malasadas (Hawaiian Donuts)
- 1 (1/4-ounce packet) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 6 eggs
- 6 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar plus 1 teaspoon, divided
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- vegetable oil, for frying
- Step 1 In a small mixing bowl, dissolve yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and water, and set aside.
- Step 2 In the bowl of a kitchen mixer, such as a KitchenAid, fitted with a whist attachment beat the eggs on medium till blended. Add the flour and add salt. Make a well in the flour, pour yeast mixture, eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, melted butter, 1 cup water, and the evaporated milk. Mix on low, until a nice soft dough has formed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let raise in a warm spot until almost double in size.
- Step 3 Using your hands, gently turn dough over but do not punch down. Cover and let raise again.
- Step 4 Line a baking sheet with paper towel. Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl and place near your work station.
- Step 5 In a medium stockpot add enough oil so it’s about 3-inches deep. Place over high heat until oil reaches 375 degrees F. Lower the heat and carefully drop rounded teaspoons of dough into oil and cook, turning occasionally, until brown, about 3-5 minutes. Be careful to watch the oil temperature and reduce or increase the heat as needed to maintain the proper tempeture.
- Step 6 Place the malasadas on th eprepared baking sheet. Immedietely roll in sugar while still warm. Best served hot.
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