Malasada: A Portuguese Confection

malasada (or malassada, from Portuguese “malassada” = “light-roasted”) (similar to filhós) is a Portugueseconfection, made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep-fried in oil and coated with granulated sugar. They were first made by inhabitants of the Madeira islands. A popular variation is where they are hand dropped into the oil and people have to guess what they look like. Traditional malasadas contain neither holes nor fillings, but some varieties of malasadas are filled with flavored cream or other fillings. Malasadas are eaten especially on Mardi Gras – the day before Ash Wednesday.

In Madeira Malasadas are eaten mainly on Terça-feira Gorda (“Fat Tuesday” in English; Mardi Gras in French) which is also the last day of the Carnival of Madeira. The reason for making malasadas was to use up all the lard and sugar in the house, in preparation for Lent (much in the same way the tradition of Pancake Day in the United Kingdom originated onShrove Tuesday), Malasadas are sold alongside the Carnival of Madeira today. This tradition was taken to Hawaii, where Shrove Tuesday is known as Malasada Day, which dates back to the days of the sugar plantations of the 19th century, the resident Catholic Portuguese (mostly from Madeira and the Azores) workers used up butter and sugar prior to Lent by making large batches of malasadas.

Leonard’s Bakery is a popular stop for malasadas in Hawaii.

 

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