Penny’s Malasadas in Lā‘ie and Kahuku Fry the Lightest Malassadas on the Island
Surprise: the best malassada is on the North Shore.
Back when we did a malassada roundup, we didn’t think there were any great malassadas on the North Shore.
We were wrong. So wrong.
The hot malassada that came out of Penny’s Malasadas’ hot pink truck in the Polynesian Cultural Center parking lot was so light and fluffy it wiped the skepticism right off my face and left only a dusting of sugar and cinnamon in its place. Usually, one malassada is enough to satiate, but at Penny’s, they’re so airy, encased by the thinnest shell of crispness, that I demolished two and then contemplated a third. Even the filled versions, in flavors such as mango strawberry and Nutella cream, have a custard light enough to match the dough. It’s the first filled malassada I’ve ever liked. (Penny’s also offers an ice cream sandwich, but the ice cream, cold and dense on the hot and lofty fried dough, literally weighs it down. Best to just get the malassada.)
Owner Andy Slikker calls this malassada formula 41. When he first started Penny’s Malasadas 18 months ago, he was frying up formula 25—a lot of people liked it, but he suspected it was still shy of perfection. He kept tinkering. But there was only so much adjusting he could do with just a handful of simple ingredients—flour, butter, milk, eggs, yeast—the basis of most malassada recipes. Until he realized that the process was just as important—maybe more—than the ingredients. Formula 41 is a six-stage process in chilling, folding and cutting the dough. “Dough is like a muscle,” he says. “It can be tired and tough, or loose and lazy and hard to work with, or it won’t respond. It’s amazing how much variation there is when it comes to one piece of dough.”
Before Slikker moved to Hawai‘i and started Penny’s (named after his mother), he used to work as a caterer and in bakeries, hotels and restaurants, cooking all sorts of cuisines. It’s as if with Penny’s, he’s channeling all that breadth into depth, funneling his focus into the single malassada. And it shows, with formula 41, most likely the lightest malassada you’ll ever have.
Two locations: In the Polynesian Cultural Center parking lot, 55-370 Kamehameha Highway, Lā‘ie, open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and by the Kahuku Sugar Mill, 56-565 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku, open Monday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday through Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., (808) 688-8729, pennysmalasadas.com