Malasadas – Leonard’s Copy Cat, So Good!

a batch of fresh malasadas
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Malasadas are pillowy doughnuts rolled in sugar and sometimes filled with pastry cream. These delicious pillowy Portuguese doughnuts are made from sweetened yeast dough.

These sweet doughnuts may have Portuguese origin, but they are an extremely popular Hawaiian dessert.

fresh homemade malasadas tossed in sugar

Malasadas were first brought to Hawaii by Portuguese laborers that came to work on the sugar plantations. Since then, this Portuguese dessert has become an iconic local favorite.

Homemade malasadas are a special treat and are often served for special occasions. They’re deep fried and golden brown. They’re always rolled in sugar and sometimes filled with sweet flavored pastry cream.

Leonard’s Bakery on Oahu is world famous for its Malasadas. You’ll find them filled with Ube (sweet potato), Haupia (coconut), and Lilikoi (passion fruit) custard filling. They are so good and totally worth the hype. Leonard’s malasadas might be the best that I have ever had. But this recipe comes close.

If you are ever on Oahu, it’s worth finding Leonard’s bakery on Kapahulu avenue or the Malasadamobile Food Trucks at various locations on the Island.

In the meantime, you can use this malasadas recipe to make a fresh batch at home anytime you get Island fever.

Ingredients

  • 4 ½ teaspoons of yeast
  • eggs
  • ¾ cup whole milk warmed to 110℉
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk, warmed to 110℉
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups bread flour, 480 grams
  • ¾ cup or sugar, plus more for coating after frying
omgredients to make malasadas

Pastry Cream (Vanilla)

The ingredients for a vanilla pastry cream are below. You can check out the recipe card for a few other pastry cream variations.

  • egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • vanilla bean

How To Make Malasadas

  1. Warm both kinds of milk in a saucepan over medium heat, then let it cool to 110F. Add the melted butter and the yeast to the warm milk. Set the yeast mixture aside for about 15 minutes to activate the yeast.
  2. Add the eggs and sugar to a mixer fitter with the paddle attachment. Beat until the eggs are light and fluffy. Then alternately add the flour and the milk mixture in 4 separate additions. Beat until the wet and dry ingredients are well combined.
  3. Add the salt and switch to the dough hook attachment. Continue to beat the dough until it is smooth and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the mixer. 5 to 7 minutes. The dough will be very sticky. Place the dough in a lightly greased large bowl, and cover with plastic wrap or a damp clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it’s doubled in size. (1 to 2 hours, depending on the temperature.)
  4. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Generously oil the parchment paper.
  5. Once the dough has doubled, turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough to 1/2 an inch thick. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut the dough into 20 to 24 rounds. Place the rounds onto the oiled parchment paper.
  6. Cover the baking sheets with a clean kitchen towel and allow the malasadas to rise until they’ve doubled in size. About 1 hour.
  7. Heat 2 inches of oil in a dutch oven. You can also use a deep fryer for deep frying if you have one. Heat the oil to 350℉.
  8. Use scissors to cut around each round of dough. Place the dough into the hot oil paper side up. Use tongs to remove the parchment paper and discard it.
  9. Cook, flipping once, for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a wire rack and cook for about 5 minutes. Toss in sugar and set aside.
  10. If desired, fill will pastry cream. Cut a small slit in each side of the donut and use a piping bag fitted with a tip to fill each malasada with about 2 tablespoons of custard.

Tips

  • Well oiled parchment paper- Malasada dough is very sticky. Working with oiled hands and oiled parchment paper will prevent the dough from sticking and make it easier to get the risen dough into the hot oil.
  • After the second rise, the malasada dough will be very delicate to handle. The donuts can be lifted into the oil on the parchment paper and placed into the oil paper side up. Remove the parchment with tongs and discard it.

Malasada Filing

Hawaiian malasadas are often filled with flavored custards. Some of the most popular variety of fillings include:

  • Chocolate
  • Matcha
  • Ube
  • Lilikoi
  • Coconut-flavored haupia pudding.
chocolate filled malasadas

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Hawaiian malasadas?

Hawaiian malasadas are a popular sugar-coated donut that’s a local favorite. This pillowy soft donut is Portuguese in origin but made its way to Hawaii when Portuguese laborers came to the Islands to work at the sugar cane plants.

Since that time, malasadas have become an iconic Hawaiian dessert. You can find them in bakeries and in food trucks. They are often filled with flavorful custards.

What’s the difference between a donut and a malasada?

The biggest difference is that malasadas have no holes in them.

What do malasadas taste like?

The second thing is their flavor the malasada dough has a rich eggy flavor. They have a slightly crisp exterior, and the inside is tender and soft.

Hungry For More Donuts?

While Cinnamon Rolls aren’t technically donuts, they are closely related and worth trying. But if donuts are really what you’re after, you will want to try my Apple Cider Donuts OR the Pumpkin Donuts.

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a batch of fresh malasadas

Malasadas Recipe

Malasadas are delicious Portuguese doughnuts made from sweetened yeast dough and then tossed in sugar. They can be filled with pastry creme or served plain. They're traditionally served on special occasions like birthdays or holidays.
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Hawaiian, Portuguese
Servings 24
Calories 100 kcal

Ingredients
 

Malasadas

  • ¾ cup whole milk, heated to 110℉
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk, heated to 110℉
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4.5 teaspoons yeast
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar , plus more for coating
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 cups bread flour (affiliate link), 480 grams
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (affiliate link)

Pastry Cream (Vanilla)

  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar (affiliate link)
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean

Pastry Cream (Chocolate)

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (affiliate link)
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate

Pastry Cream (Haupia)

  • 13.5 ounce coconut milk, canned, full fat, unsweetened
  • 2 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract

Instructions
 

  • Warm both kinds of milk in a saucepan over medium heat, then let it cool to 110F. Add the melted butter and the yeast to the warm milk. Set the yeast mixture aside for about 15 minutes to activate the yeast.
    ¾ cup whole milk, ¾ cup evaporated milk, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 4.5 teaspoons yeast
  • Add the eggs and sugar to a mixer fitter with the paddle attachment. Beat until the eggs are light and fluffy. Then alternately add the flour and the milk mixture in 4 separate additions. Beat until the wet and dry ingredients are well combined.
    ¾ cup granulated sugar, 3 eggs, 4 cups bread flour
  • Add the salt and switch to the dough hook attachment. Continue to beat the dough until it is smooth and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the mixer. 5 to 7 minutes. The dough will be very sticky. Place the dough in a lightly greased large bowl, and cover with plastic wrap or a damp clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it's doubled in size. (1 to 2 hours, depending on the temperature.)
    ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Generously oil the parchment paper.
  • Once the dough has doubled, turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough to 1/2 an inch thick. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut the dough into 20 to 24 rounds. Place the rounds onto the oiled parchment paper.
  • Cover the baking sheets with a clean kitchen towel and allow the malasadas to rise until they've doubled in size. About 1 hour.
  • Heat 2 inches of oil in a dutch oven. You can also use a deep fryer for deep frying if you have one. Heat the oil to 350℉.
  • Use scissors to cut around each round of dough. Place the dough into the hot oil paper side up. Use tongs to remove the parchment paper and discard it.
  • Cook, flipping once. for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a wire rack and cook for about 5 minutes. Toss in sugar and set aside.
  • If desired, fill will pastry cream. Cut a small slit in each side of the donut and use a piping bag fitted with a tip to fill each malasada with about 2 tablespoons of custard.

How To Make Pastry Cream

  • Mix the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Whisk until sugar has dissolved (and the mixture has become lighter in color).
    5 egg yolks, ½ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan. Add the vanilla pod. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
    1 cup whole milk, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 vanilla bean
  • Pour 1/3 of the hot milk mixture into the eggs. Vigorously whisk the eggs so that the hot milk doesn't cook them! Pour the egg mixture into the pot with the rest of the milk. Vigorously whisk until combined. 
  • Place the pot back on the heat. Heat while stirring continuously with the whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. Continue to cook for up to another 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and continue to stir for another whole milk.
  • Transfer the pastry cream into a bowl and remove the vanilla pod. Let cool at room temperature. Once at room temperature, refrigerate. 

Chocolate Pastry Cream

  • Use the recipe for vanilla pastry cream and add in 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the sugar and egg mixtur5e.
    2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • After the pastry cream is thickened, add 6 ounces of chocolate chips and whisk until they are fully melted into the warm cream.
    6 ounces dark chocolate

Coconut Pastry Cream

  • Replace the milk with one can of unsweetened coconut milk. and 2 ounces of heavy cream. Follow the recipe for making Vanilla pastry cream.
    13.5 ounce coconut milk, 2 ounces heavy cream
  • Substitute coconut extract for the vanilla in this recipe.
    1 teaspoon coconut extract

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Nutrition

Serving: 1malasadaCalories: 100kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 4gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.5gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 37mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gCalcium: 19mgIron: 0.3mg
Keyword donuts, malasadas, pastry cream
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4 Comments

  1. Which is the correct amount of yeast please: 4.5 teaspoons (in the article) or 4.5 tablespoons (in the recipe card)? Also, are you using active dry yeast or instant yeast? Thanks

  2. The quantities of yeast, evaporated milk and whole milk are different in the article vs the recipe card. Which is correct?

    1. Thank you for catching this….I’ve updated the recipe card to the correct measurements. The first version was too dense. The more hydrated dough definitely is the ticket.

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