Hawaii offers a variety of delectable sweet treats. A couple you have to try when you're here are haupia, a firm coconut pudding and malasadas, a Portuguese style doughnut. Portuguese recipes took hold in the islands because laborers from the Azores came to Hawaii to work the plantations in the late 1800's.
Perhaps doughnut isn't the best description because malasadas don't have holes. They are made from a yeast dough, fried and tossed in granulated sugar. The best ones are fluffy and light with a slightly tangy, yeasty flavor. They must be eaten when they are piping hot!
The most famous place to get them is Leonard's in Waikiki but there is also a Leonard's truck that can be found in various locations. Having heard about another place in Honolulu called Champion, I decided a taste test was in order.
While I was rooting for the underdog, I can definitively say, Leonard's really are the best. Champion's malasadas are a bit cheaper at 60¢ rather than 70¢ each, and have a more pronounced tangy flavor but the texture is not quite as good as the ones from Leonards. They are so light and airy! Supposedly the Champion recipe is from Macau, but the man who runs the place used to work at Leonard's so who knows where his recipe really came from.
Both places sells them plain, with cinnamon and filled but be a purist, simpler is better. Some claim the malasadas are best from the Punahou Carnival but I've never been here when the carnival is going on. Next time I'm in Kailua, I hope to try the malasadas from Agnes' Portuguese Bake Shop. Why try them all? Professional responsibility, you know.
More malasada links:
Punahou malasadas recipe
Rubbah Slippahs in Italy on malasadas
Leonard's in the Star Bulletin
Champion in the Honolulu Advertiser