Hawaii's favorite doughnut, without the airfare

Credit: imagenavi

Last week at this time I was eating a cinnamon-sugar malasada from a food truck in a parking lot in Honolulu. I was wearing a bathing suit, sort of sunburnt, sand still stuck to my feet—it was a damn near perfect moment. Malasadas, technically Portuguese in origin, but very popular in Hawaii, are hole-less, sometimes cream-filled doughnuts. They’re fried in oil like any other doughnuts you’d find, but malasadas are a little chewier, a little less sweet, and way better than any other fried dough treat I’ve put in my mouth. While no malasada could beat the one I was eating last week—it was from Leonard’s, the Portuguese bakery that has become pretty famous for popularizing the malasada in Hawaii—you could try to make a batch yourself. Here’s how.

Disclaimer: If you want to make the realest of the real, Saveur published the official Leonard’s malasada recipe, and you can give that a looksee. If you’re a bit shorter on time, reach for the closest box of Bisquick (or DIY Bisquick) and make this shortcut version.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1½ cups Bisquick with 2 teaspoons baking powder. Use a wooden spoon to mix in 1 egg, ½ cup half-and-half, and ¼ cup whole milk until you have a shaggy dough. Just FYI, the half-and-half is what really gives malasadas the extra fatty oomph they need (that’s also what Leonard’s uses, and I’m in no position to counter), but if you want to use all milk here you definitely can.

Flour your hands and knead the dough a few times until it comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll it out to about ¼-inch thick. Cut out rounds from the dough using a 3-inch cup or cookie cutter.

Meanwhile, heat 2 inches of canola oil in a Dutch oven or wide saucepan until it reaches 350ºF. Working with 2 or 3 doughnuts at a time (don’t crowd the pan!), fry the doughnuts until golden brown on both side, about 1 minute per side.

Pull the doughnuts out of the oil and lay on a cooling rack-lined sheet pan. After the doughnuts have cooled slightly, toss them in granulated sugar or cinnamon sugar.

If you’d like to fill your malasadas, mix up a batch of instant vanilla, chocolate, or coconut pudding to act as a custard of sorts (fold in some whipped cream if you’re feeling fancy), or stirred jam or jelly. Use a chopstick to poke a hole into the side of the malasada, then pour the filling into a zip-top baggie with a corner snipped off. Squirt in the filling, then devour as many malasadas as will fit in your stomach.