The Last Of The Malasadas
by Nicole Freire
I have finally eaten the last of the malasadas. It's been almost 8 days and I've had to eat at least four or five every day to make my quota and while it's been somewhat difficult to eat four or five malasadas rolled in sugar every day - somehow I made it. My digestive system isn't all that happy with me and I've gained some weight, but the malasadas are finally gone.
Say what? You want to know what a malasada is? It has its own Wikipedia page (even though I have issues with much of it) but it's basically a donut. Fried dough! Rolled in sugar! Eaten warm! Heaven-on-freaking-earth.
Malasadas are a Portuguese treat via Hawaii and can be made several different ways (so says Wikipedia) but my aunt grew up in Hawaii and as far as I'm concerned, her way is the only way, the correct way. I think it's akin to the Philippine dish, adobo. There are a myriad of ways to prepare adobo but the best version is the one your grandmother or your mother made. I have eaten malasadas in Hawaii (just once) but I have to say, they were not malasadas. Just a poor imitation of what I grew up eating.
When I was a child, visiting my aunt and uncle and cousins meant that maybe, just maybe, my aunt would make malasadas for us all. Malasadas are traditionally made on Fat Tuesday, so you can use up all the fat and sugar in your house to prepare for the bleak days of Lent. However, since most of us are now either ‘fallen away' Catholics or rabid atheists, our family eschews Fat Tuesday in favor of making them whenever you have a family gathering of more than eight or so.
Wikipedia says that in Hawaii, Fat Tuesday is also known as "Malasada Day". I'll have to check with my aunt on that fact. Regardless, I think that maybe we should start petitioning to have Malasada Day a national holiday.
I think that Americans would welcome a holiday that revolves around eating donuts all day long
So, back to the malasadas. Luckily for me and my stomach, a few weekends ago, we had a family gathering of cousins and second cousins and cousins once removed and other confusing variations. We had enough hungry children to justify making absurd amounts of fried dough and enough adults more than willing to spend a few hours over a deep fryer.
See? These children are patiently waiting for the oil in the deep fryer to reach the correct temperature. Let the frying and eating begin!
This recipe is not for the faint of heart. You are going to need, not only a deep fryer and gallons of oil, but you are going to need a giant bowl. You should probably set aside a whole day for this and choose a day when you have lots of family visiting and willing to eat.
Here's a picture of the dough in a giant bowl. It's just about ready for the deep fryer.
It's big - big enough that if you had two or three infants and needed to bathe them all simultaneously, you could fit them all in the bowl. One of those tremendously large stainless steel bowls that you might find at a buffet, filled with iceberg lettuce. Once you read the recipe, you'll know why the big bowl is crucial.
According to my Aunt Jonelle and the recipe she wrote down for me, here's what you'll need.
Mix in giant basin or bowl the following:
5 lb. bag of flour
1¼ cups of sugar
3 tablespoons salt
Next, mix the following ingredients into the dry mixture:
3 cakes or packages of yeast dissolved in warm water with one teaspoon of sugar.
18 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons lemon extract
Add the following ingredients gradually while beating mixture with your hands:
1 can evaporated milk, plus enough water to make 5 cups of liquid.
Once all the milk is added, continue to beat until smooth, working out any lumps with your fingers. When dough is smooth and elastic, clean top edges of bowl with wet paper towels. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and let rise somewhere warm until it doubles in bulk - about 1½ to 2 hours. Watch the dough so it doesn't escape the bowl.
When the dough is ready, prepare your deep fryer. We use Wesson Vegetable Oil. You'll need a lot - maybe one or two of the giant gallon (or is it the two gallon?) size. Whatever. When you go to the supermarket, you want to look for the oil that is in a big enough container that it can only fit on the bottom shelf.
When the oil reaches 375 degrees, drop handfuls of dough from your fingertips into the oil. Deep fry and turn over until brown. The malasadas should puff up when cooking. Cool on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Roll cooked malasadas in sugar, eat. Repeat until all dough is gone. At some point, the children will have eaten their weight in malasadas and left the table. You'll still be there, frying dough.
We like to drop the dough into the oil while spreading our fingers. That way the dough will fry into shapes of all kinds. They'll look like sea anemones, or dinosaurs, or spiky shells you find on the beach or giant tumors. You could simply drop ball shaped dough into the oil but since you're going to be standing over the deep fryer for a while, why not amuse yourself and your eager eaters? Plus, the more surface area you can create, the more sugar you can roll them in.
Preparation time? Hours. Servings? Dozens.
You will have piles of them on the table, all drying on paper towels. When they have completely cooled, you can put them in freezer bags and parcel them out to the assorted relatives.
To eat them after the big frying event, you can steam them on the stovetop until they get nice and soft. If you're too lazy for that, simply wrap the malasadas in wet paper towels and microwave them for a minute or two.
I've heard of people putting peanut butter and jelly on their malasadas, or even butter, but as far as I'm concerned, granulated sugar is the only way to go. Just get a plate and pour the sugar onto the plate so you have plenty of rolling room. If you are of a certain age, you can sing the song from the C&H sugar commercial while you do this. Because it's C&H Pure Cane Sugar from Hawaii. Sing it a few more times, rolling the malasadas in sugar and eating them.
Repeat until you think you can eat no more (at least until the next day). You can freeze the rest or you can just keep them in the fridge and eat some every day until they are finally gone.
You will have eaten enough that you won't want any more for a while - at least until the next big family gathering.
Enjoy, because these are amazing and so good.
Happy Malasada Day!
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Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.