July 14, 2017
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Malasadas: The Hawaiian Roll’s Bad-Boy Cousin
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Trips to Hawaii are very, very expensive. But the “doughnuts” are so, so good! Our solution follows.

Malasadas are often referred to as “Hawaiian doughnuts,” even though they’re not truly Hawaiian, nor are they truly doughnuts. They were brought to Hawaii by the Portuguese immigrants who began arriving in 1878 to farm sugarcane and then proceeded to use said sugarcane to make the best goddamn bread in the history of ever. You know those itty-bitty Hawaiian rolls at the supermarket that you buy thinking you’ll use them for sliders but then end up inhaling the entire slightly sweet, buttery soft bag while you’re still in the car? That’s close to what we’re talking about, but deep fried and covered in sugar.

Etymologically speaking, the term malasada is the Portuguese term for “bad guy,” probably because this is the Hawaiian roll’s bad-boy cousin that you know you shouldn’t tango with, yet deep down inside you desperately want to get yourself knocked up in the back of his Camaro. Another possibility is that it comes from the phrase mal assada, which is Portuguese for “undercooked” and not as much fun as my explanation. These pastries have a soft crumb with just a touch of chew, teasing you with a subtle resistance. Sometimes they come filled with chocolate, vanilla, or coconut custard, but they’re a work of art all on their own. You can even skip the filling step and try them with a bit of dipping sauce on the side if you’re the type who likes their lilies gilded.

My first bite of a malasada wasn’t in Hawaii (sadly I have never been), but at a Hawaiian-theme party in a stuffy railroad apartment way deep in the uncool part of Brooklyn—which is a dead ringer for the Big Island when you break out a festive tablecloth, some 99-cent-store leis, and the Israel Kamakawiwoʻole Pandora station.

This was followed up with a second offense: It was not fresh. Rule number one of doughnut law states that any item in the fried-dough canon has a very strict window for edibility, being at its peak within the first 15 minutes of its birth, then steadily declining throughout the day until it is rendered inedible by the 24-hour mark. The malasadas I was served were from a place called Leonard’s, a 65-year-old Honolulu landmark that had shipped their signature item to us five days prior. Yet against all odds, they were incredible.

After this first taste, I needed more malasadas immediately—and I needed to try them fresh. Alas, trips to Hawaii are very, very expensive. What’s cheap are flour, eggs, and yeast, so I got to try my hand at making them at home instead of having TASTE send me on what I considered to be a tremendously important business trip (if you’d like to take it upon yourself to send a letter to my editor protesting this decision, I would greatly appreciate it).

Now be forewarned: Like doughnuts, malasadas are not easy to make. I don’t mean “not easy” in an overtly complicated culinary-degree-required way, but in a “I want to eat them now and not in several hours” way. In the “Why do I need to wake up at 5 a.m. to have hot doughnuts for breakfast?” way. Yes, this is why you should start training yourself to think that little blobs of fried dough filled with vanilla pudding and rolled in sugar should be eaten for dessert. For breakfast, go have some oatmeal or eggs or something. Spend your day twittering with anticipation, knowing that when you arrive home that night you will be only a quick fry away from paradise, even if the Big Island is thousands of miles away.



24 masaladas


  • Malasadas
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
  • Canola oil for deep frying
  • Cinnamon Sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • Guava Curd
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup guava paste or previously frozen guava puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 stick of butter cut into tablespoons

Referring to malasadas as “Hawaiian doughnuts” grossly understates their brilliance—these beautiful puffs of lightly sweetened bread will very likely be better than any doughnut you will ever get your hands on. They’re delicious plain, but piping them full of some slightly tart guava puree or serving with some of the puree for dipping is a nice touch. Also good: dipping in any flavor of melted ice cream.


  1. In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the milk, evaporated milk, yeast, and one tablespoon of sugar.
  2. In a stand mixer equipped with paddle attachment, beat the eggs and remaining sugar on high until pale yellow and doubled in volume.
  3. Reduce speed to low. Alternate additions of flour and milk mix, about one cup at a time. Add salt and increase mixer speed to high for two minutes. Dough will be very sticky.
  4. Remove paddle attachment and scrape clean. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature until double in size: about 2½ to 3 hours.
  5. Using either a bowl scraper or well-floured hands, begin folding the dough over itself, scooping from the outside and folding in and adding very small amounts of flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Do this about 25 times until dough is smooth, then return to bowl and cover. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 24.
  6. Put the oil into a Dutch oven or large pot and insert a frying thermometer. Heat to 350 degrees.
  7. Once again, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half, then divide each half into thirds, then divide those pieces in fourths to end up with 24 even pieces of dough. Roll pieces into balls, then lightly flatten with the palm of your hand. Gently fry malasadas, no more than four at a time, for 2½ minutes per side until golden brown. Remove to paper towels to drain. When the temperature of the oil returns to 350, fry the next batch.
  8. In a pie or cake pan, make cinnamon sugar by tossing 2 cups granulated sugar with 2 tablespoons cinnamon. Gently toss warm malasadas in cinnamon sugar. Serve on the side for dipping.


  1. Process water and guava paste in a food processor for one minute until smooth.
  2. In a heatproof bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until pale, then add guava puree. Place over a pan of simmering water to create a double boiler and whisk continuously until mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon—about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove bowl from heat and continue to whisk, adding butter a piece at a time until it’s entirely mixed in and the curd is glossy.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of guava curd and refrigerate until completely cool.
  5. Use a piping bag to fill each doughnut, or serve the doughnuts with a bowl of the curd for dipping.

Allison Robicelli

Allison Robicelli is a D-list celebrity-chef chef, author, humorist, entrepreneur, general polymath, and all-around good time. You may remember her from such places as Food52, Eater, Food Network, VH1, and many other quirky corners of the food Internet. She is the author of the critically acclaimed cookbook/memoir Robicelli's: A Love Story, With Cupcakes, which has been called one of the funniest food-related books of all time. You should buy it.

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