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Leonard's malasadas.jpg
Hawaiian version filled with custard, chocolate, haupia, and guava malasadas
Type Fried dough
Place of origin Portugal
Region or state Madeira, Azores
Main ingredient(s) Dough, sugar
Variations Bola de Berlim (Berlin Ball)

A malasada (or malassada, from Portuguese "mal-assada" = "under-cooked") (similar to filhós) is a Portuguese confection, 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 on Shrove 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.

United States[edit]

Punahou School Carnival features malasadas.

In 1878, Portuguese laborers from Madeira and the Azores came to Hawaii to work in the plantations. These immigrants brought their traditional foods with them, including a fried dough pastry called the "malasada." Today there are numerous bakeries in the Hawaiian islands specializing in malasadas.

On the East Coast, in Rhode Island and South-Eastern Massachusetts, there is also a high population of Portuguese-Americans, especially from Madeira and Azores. Festivals in towns such as New Bedford and Fall River will often serve Portuguese cuisine, including Malasadas. One locally famous example is the Lakeside Family Festival

Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday"), the day before Lent, is Malasada day in Hawaii. Being predominantly Catholic, Portuguese immigrants would need to use up all their butter and sugar prior to Lent. They did so by making large batches of malasadas, which they would subsequently share with friends from all the other ethnic groups in the plantation camps. This led to the popularity of the malasada in Hawaii.

In the United States, malasadas are cooked in many Portuguese or Portuguese descendant homes on Fat Tuesday. It is a tradition where the older children take the warm doughnuts and roll them in the sugar while the eldest woman — mother or grandmother — cooks them. Many people prefer to eat them hot. They can be reheated in the microwave, but then they will have absorbed the sugar, providing a slightly different flavor and texture. (However, it can also be frozen without the sugar.)

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