Freckles in April: Malasada Throwdown

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Malasada Throwdown

I was sick on National Donut Day. Not deathbed-sick but sick enough that I didn't want to take my scratchy throat to Krispy Kreme for my freebie. Too much opportunity for me to infect other people and I try to be really conscientious about that.

When we were in Hawaii in May we took a drive down south to see the volcano. It's a couple hours in the car from Kona and at one point we stopped at this little bakery on the side of the road for drinks and a potty break. As I walked around the counter with my boys in search of the bathrooms I saw a glorious case full of malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts). We, obviously, could not say no.

My amazing lilikoi malasada from that bakery was still fresh in my mind on National Donut Day and I decided I should attempt to make malasadas at home. The problem was that I found THREE really promising recipes. I made a spreadsheet, adjusted for yields, and discovered that the recipes were different enough that I couldn't just pick one or take an average and cross my fingers. I needed to try all three.

This called for side-by-side taste analysis. For science!


"Hey Aaron," I poked my head into his office. "Would it be crazy if I tried three different malasada recipes? I think we'd probably end up with like...3-4 dozen?" He snorted. "How is that even a question?"

Thanks to a recent Costco trip my kitchen was ready to roll. I got mixing.

You can thank Baby 2 for that graham cracker in the background. We're all about professional photo styling around here.

Recipe A comes from Cooking Hawaiian Style. It was a fairly simple, straightforward recipe using pantry staples. It's a thinner dough (more of a batter, really) meant for dropping by the spoonful into hot oil as opposed to rolling out and cutting before frying. I used my hand-mixer to make it just because I could. Dropping balls of dough into the oil was messy work though! We ended up with some crazy shapes.

Recipe B comes from Epicurious. It wins the award for most complex recipe. It wasn't difficult but it involved more steps than the other two. The resulting dough was lovely though and I was intrigued by the inclusion of evaporated milk. It rolled out like a dream and was super easy to cut up and drop into the hot oil with a minimum of mess.

Sorry for the blur. At this point I was physically holding my children back from grabbing malasadas so I could finish taking pictures.

Recipe C comes from Saveur. It was every bit as easy as the first recipe (I made it in my stand mixer, though, since the dough was going to be thicker and rollable) but also required a couple ingredients I don't normally have on hand (bread flour, half & half). It was dumb luck that I had them around. The dough was super sticky when it came together but rose nicely and ended up rolling out just as well as Recipe B.

But how did they taste??

I was a little disappointed that there wasn't a bigger taste different between the batches but there were some textural differences that made Recipe A a clear winner. My family stopped by and grabbed bites and almost everyone preferred Recipe A (Aaron was the only one who preferred Recipe B). Both B and C were a little more dense and bready than we wanted. Recipe A was airier and the sticky dough refusing to leave my fingers or the spoon as it dropped into the oil created a craggy doughnut with nicely crunchy bits poking out from around the soft middle.

I WILL say that you have to eat them fresh. We really wanted to like them the next day but it's just not the same (well, my kids didn't mind but they also prefer plain noodles to just about anything so I don't think their palates can really be trusted). It's like eating an old donut- just a shadow of the experience you were hoping for. But fresh? Oh heavens. Worth the work!


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