If I had a dollar for every time I was asked where to get the best malasadas on Maui, I’d have enough to make a daily habit of indulging in this most delicious Portuguese treat.
Not that you should eat malasadas every day — according to Livestrong, they have 237 calories each.
But if I DID … where would I get them? I’ll spill my new favorite spot in a second.
But first, here’s the thing: malasadas are best when they’re still scorching hot. The yeast dough is close to a donut’s in texture, and the best malasadas are still springy inside, but exactingly crisp on the exterior. They’re deep-fried, and then, traditionally, rolled in sugar. The result is a hot, crisp-but-doughy, sparkly confection that, to borrow a phrase from my friend Michelle, represents “little balls of love.”
Once cool, they’re decidedly less delicious. The oil congeals a little — as oil is wont to do — and the sugar gets soggy. The dough stiffens and collapses, and they become slightly damp … donuts.
This is why I find it so hard to tell people where the BEST malasadas are. The BEST malasadas are invariably prepared immediately before eating, so most of the deliciousness is on you — you’re either there at the right time or you’re getting NOT the best. The possible exception to this is picking up a cream version — no sugar on the outside, but stuffed with haupia (coconut milk), chocolate, or various tropical fruit flavors. The cream seems to hold up better to time’s assault.
The problem for me is I’m a perfectionist. Either something is fantastic, or it’s not. For me, cream-filled malasadas don’t do it. I love the cream texture to the dough in a traditional sugar version. Substituting pudding creams for that yeasty dough feels like cheating. Plus, then the baker has to be good at making cream, too — and that’s hit or miss.
So, other than conning me into making them in my deep fryer (as James keeps threatening to do), what’s a girl with a craving to do?
Here are my best suggestions:
- On Sundays, head to the Grand Wailea for their gorgeous views and champagne brunch … and the tempting malasada bar. They’re made in front of you, and come in the sugared variety I mentioned, but also in several cream varieties (haupia — a coconut cream, chocolate, and I’ve seen guava). The funniest thing about this, to me, is that there’s almost never a line. People ooh and ahh and then move on to other areas of the buffet. I get it — we’re all worried about deep-fried food — but when I spend $49 on brunch, I eat what I want. You don’t have to have more than one! (But I so often do. One of my secret fantasies is making an entire brunch out of nothing but champagne and these malasadas.)
- If you’re upcountry and it’s early in the morning, go to T. Komoda’s Bakery in Makawao. When you get a fresh malasada here, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I saw “fresh is best.”
- And here’s my new favorite tip: Go to Zippy’s in Kahului, and march straight ahead to the Napoleon Bakery counter. Smile nicely and ask if the malasadas are fresh. When they offer to make you one (or two or three) say YES and give them $.80 per. It will take maybe five minutes for them to come out with your bakery bag full of hot, crispy, sugary dough. Enjoy immediately. There are benches right there. Sit. Down. Eat. When you see the bakers smiling at your pleasure, make sure you say “thank you” and give them a thumbs up.
Once I made the discovery that I could ask for a fresh-fried malasada, I kind of went crazy — in a quiet, internal, totally normal way. Now when we pass Zippy’s, which is every time we go “into town” I have to restrain myself from stopping. Please, as always, be nice and smile and say thank you. If you mess this up for me by being greedy or belligerent in any way, I will find you. I promise.
(I like sharing my favorite spots on Maui with readers, but it comes at a personal cost; Koiso, for example, now requires reservations days in advance.)
Don’t mess with my malasadas. OK?
For more fantastic recommendations about where to eat — and where not to eat — on Maui, you should check out the latest edition of our book, Top Maui Restaurants. It’s the second best-selling guidebook to Maui (after “the blue book”) for good reason.
In the meantime, happy eating wherever you are.