It’s the last installment in B2’s birthday series! You can see parts one (hurricane popcorn!) and two (chicken katsu plate lunch!) here.
These babes aren’t something that B2 actually ever requested I make — I think I mentioned homemade malasadas once, way back, and B2 chewed on the idea and said it just sounded like too much work to make at home. Usually, when he says he’s not so into something, I take it at face value (or else things happen like I know you said you didn’t want Oreos but, Oreos! And they were on sale! and then I have a pack of Oreos to finish by myself. It’s true, there are worse problems to have.) But I figure the thing about birthdays is that, hey, it’s nice to get something you didn’t have to ask for. And there are things that you might like a lot more than you suspect. As it turns out, a platter of warm, yielding, airy malasadas filled with smooth pastel curd, the kind that brings back B2’s childhood memories of school carnivals and afternoon runs to famed neighborhood bakeries, is one of those things.
In case you are (like I was, for most of my life) unfamiliar, malasadas are a fried Portuguese-style donut popular in Hawaii and elevated to mythic standards by Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu. B2’s perfect mama wasted no time with introducing malasadas to me the first time I visited, and from my first bite I was enraptured. Golden-brown and sandy on the outside from a generous dusting of granulated sugar, they are euphoric inside, impossibly airy, pliant and soft, light and fluffy but with just enough chew.
Leonard’s offers plain, cinnamon sugar, haupia-filled, and chocolate-filled malasadas on the regular, plus a rotating flavor of the month, and though the donuts are so incredibly good that most of the time I opt for just plain, we were absolutely obsessed with the guava flavor they had one January. So when I sought to recreate these at home, a guava filling and a lilikoi filling were the two that I chose. You can use concentrate to make the curd fillings if you can find them, or reduce juice into your own concentrate by simmering for a hot minute — either one will work wonderfully.
All in all, B2 wasn’t wrong — these aren’t the quickest dudes to make, and they require a little doing, but what’s a birthday if not a cause for a little work for a lot of celebration? The guava filling was every bit as beguilingly sweet and fresh as I remembered it, and the donuts are wonderfully light, chewy, and soft. We left some of these (what few we could part with) out in the entrance of our building for our neighbors, and they were gone within the hour. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
P.S. It’s #nationaldonutemojiday! You can find the whole donut extravaganza here on a Tumblr just for donuts, or by searching for the hashtag. And, even though these are birthday malasadas, a couple of the extra squishy ones are for the fabulous Lyndsay at CocoCakeLand — she is a lover of Hawaii and donuts and a badass fighter if I ever saw one. If you don’t follow her blog, you must! Hop on over for the most gorgeous cakes and for more on why these days, even more so than usual, Lyndsay is truly an inspiration inside and out. You’re a rockstar, my friend.
P.P.S. Oh gosh, bear with me — just one more thing to say! It’s really late or very early, depending on how you flip it, and I’m all topsy-turvy from a nonstop couple days full of work (boo) but also belly-laughs (yay) and inexpressibly wonderful people (yay-er), and I’m still not convinced these words are true as I’m typing it, but I learned yesterday evening that — all, completely, one hundred percent, two hundred percent thanks to you — Two Red Bowls somehow won Reader’s Choice for Most Delicious Food at this year’s Saveur Blog Awards. I can’t remember the last time I was more shocked, humbled, or overwhelmed, and hopefully I’ll have more coherent thanks to give you later, but I just had to write one great big thank you for being the absolute best, best blog friends and readers I could ever ask for. It’s still weird to me to even type “readers” like I have any, so thank you for making that and so much more possible. Thank you.
And congrats to all the other winners and finalists!
These homemade versions of Leonard's mythos are tweaked from two Leonard's Bakery recipes on Saveur and Food Network, with more help from the exceedingly lovely Alana at Fix Feast Flair and Michelle at Hummingbird High. The Saveur version of Leonard's malasadas uses a mixture of whole milk and half-and-half, but I usually only have cream, so I simplified it a bit to replace the half-and-half with a little less cream and a bit more whole milk. At that point, I was delighted to find that this actually isn't so different from Hokkaido milk bread (go figure!) so I incorporated an overnight rise to make things easier and to give the flavor more time to develop. Alana and Michelle's recipes also use a bit of white vinegar, which I loved and found made the malasadas noticeably lighter and springier. Finally, I found that frying the donuts at a bit of a higher temperature, like Michelle calls for, makes the donuts both lighter and quicker to fry.
- for the dough:
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 3/4 cup (350 grams) bread flour
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/3 cup sugar, plus more for coating the malasadas
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
- vegetable or other neutral-tasting oil, for frying
- for the guava filling (double if using for the full batch of donuts):
- 1/2 cup guava concentrate OR 2 cups guava juice, to be reduced to 1/2 cup
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tbsp sugar (or more if the guava is particularly tart)
- 3 tbsp (about 22g) unsalted butter, divided and softened
- a few drops red food coloring (optional, of course)
- for the lilikoi (passion fruit) filling (double if using for the full batch of donuts):
- 1/2 cup lilikoi concentrate OR 3 cups lilikoi juice, to be reduced to 1/2 cup
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar (or more if the lilikoi is particularly tart)
- 3 tbsp (about 22g) unsalted butter, divided and softened
- Prepare the dough: Heat milk to about 110 degrees or lukewarm to the touch. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and set it aside for 5 to 10 minutes for the yeast to activate. The mixture should foam.
- In the meantime, sift together the bread flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs vigorously until foamy. When it’s ready, whisk in the yeast mixture, melted butter, and cream until well-combined. Finally, whisk in the vinegar and vanilla extract.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a loose, shaggy dough. Switch to using your hands and knead for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the dough forms a smooth ball.
- Place the dough in a large bowl with plenty of room and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let proof until doubled, at least 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. If doing an overnight refrigerator rise, cover more tightly; the dough should be fine for up to 24 hours in the fridge.
- Make the guava filling: If you're using juice and not concentrate, you will need to reduce the juice for a stronger guava flavor. To do so, bring 2 cups guava juice to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 20-30 minutes depending on your stove. The end result will be thick and syrupy. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Once completely cool, whisk in the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and half the butter (1 1/2 tbsp) over medium heat. (If you want to be extra sure the eggs won’t curdle, use a double-boiler.) Cook, whisking constantly, until the curd starts to thicken and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. This will take about 5-7 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook and whisk. When large bubbles begin to form and pop in the curd, whisk for another minute over the heat, then remove.
- Add the remaining butter and whisk until melted. Transfer to a bowl, press plastic wrap to the surface, and chill until cold. (Note: The guava itself is a gorgeous coral, but the color gets a little lost in the egg, sadly. I added a few drops of food coloring at the end, before chilling, to bring back some of that pastel pink, but it is by no means necessary.)
- Make the lilikoi filling: For the lilikoi filling, repeat steps 6-8, reducing 3 cups of lilikoi juice to 1/2 cup, and using 1/4 cup sugar instead of 2 tbsp. (See Notes for more details.)
- Shape the donuts: The next day or once the dough has doubled, line two baking sheets with lightly floured parchment paper and set aside. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and roll it to about 1/2-inch in thickness. Cut the dough into 2-inch rounds or 2-inch squares, reusing scraps as needed -- you can also simply pinch off balls of dough, about the size of golf balls, and pat them gently into circles. Place the dough on the baking sheets at least 3 inches apart, cover loosely with plastic wrap or damp towels and let proof again until doubled, about 2 hours.
- Fry the donuts: Prepare about 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a shallow bowl and set aside. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat about 2 inches of oil to 375°. Use a fish spatula or slotted spoon (or both together) to gently pick up a donut and place it in the oil. Cook, flipping once, until puffed and dark golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Drain on napkins or a baking sheet and let cool until just warm to the touch. Toss gently in granulated sugar until coated.
- Fill and serve: To fill the malasadas, use a small paring knife to cut a slit in one end of the donut. Insert a chopstick or skewer through the hole and move it side-to-side to create a hollow for the filling. Fill a pastry bag with the custard of your choice and fit it with a small or medium tip (I used Wilton’s No. 5). Insert the tip into the donut and gently fill until you can feel the donut start to feel full. (For awesome step-by-step photos and instructions, see Alana’s post!) Repeat with remaining donuts and fillings, then enjoy immediately!
If you find that your milk and yeast mixture will not foam, add a teaspoon of sugar to the milk, stir and let it sit for another few minutes.
When kneading, the dough will be quite sticky -- sprinkle flour over your hands and the dough as necessary to keep the dough from sticking, but try not to over-flour. (One tablespoon of flour should be enough.)
If storing the dough in the refrigerator for an overnight rise, cover more tightly with plastic wrap to avoid drying out.
For the fillings, I found 3 cups of juice to work better for the lilikoi because the juice I had was a little more diluted, so reducing it further yielded a stronger flavor, and 1/4 cup sugar was more appropriate because the lilikoi was a bit more tart as compared to the guava juice.
Finally, don't fret if the malasadas are crisp when they first come out of the fryer. Upon sitting and cooling briefly, they will soften into the plump, airy malasadas you know.