Stale malassadas find a place on the dessert menu

Mangoes at the Moana is July 9; you can win good stuff in the recipe contest. See details under the Tips, etc. link above.

Tomorrow: Learn the restaurant rule.

It is an only-in-Hawai’i problem.
And it has an only-in-Hawai’i solution.
What do you do with leftover malassadas? Besides feeling guilty that your eyes were bigger than your stomach? Or leaving them on the office goodies table for someone else to deal with?
Stephanie Rezents found a solution: bread pudding. She borrowed my former colleague Joan Namkoong’s extraordinary bread pudding recipe (from “Go Home, Cook Rice”), fiddled with it a bit and created a little dish of heaven. (She credits another Friends of the Library volunteer, Florence Yee, with the original idea.
I spent the last two weeks cooking for volunteers at the Friends of the Library Book Sale (one week pack-in, one week sale), feeding 25-60 people a day. Day after day during pack-in, malassadas would appear early in the morning. And then the boxes of leftovers would appear in the fridge I was using, neatly bagged and labelled “Stephanie.”

I thought Rezents, who as co-chair of the sprawling and barely manageable event is among the most organized people you can imagine, had lost her mind. What did she do with rock-hard, greasy leftover pastries?
Then she brought in the bread pudding. Still warm. Elsewhere where Portuguese have settled, a fried confection similar to malassadas is called sonhos — “dreams.” This was my dream: The bread pudding I had imagined but never succeeded in making. (Although the Portuguese sweet bread pudding in “The Island Plate,” my first cookbook, is darned good.)

I like my bread pudding the way I like my lap cats: soft, pliable and warm. This was. And, surprisingly, not at all over-sweet or over-rich.
Although the solid, sliceable-into-a-brick stuff found in many bakeries is convenient for eating out of hand, it’s . . . just . . . wrong. Cold. Boring.
Have you seen “Shrek?” You recall how the Puss in Boots character can, in a blink, make his eyes immense and full of yearning? Irresistable? You-couldn’t-say-no-to-poor-little-me, could-you persuasive?
That’s how I look when I want a recipe. And I wanted this one.
I went in search of Stephanie. And, after a few days of gentle, big-eyed reminders, she came through.
Here’s what you do. Every time you get a few leftover malassadas, cut them into small pieces, place them in zippered plastic freezer bags, figuring 1 cup per malassada; be sure to press out the air. Label the bag (sharpie and masking tape) so you know how much you’ve got. When you accumulate 5-6 cups, make bread pudding according to Joan’s recipe, but increase the cooking time and temperature as outlined below.

 

Bread Pudding a la Portugueza

5-6 cups leftover malassadas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, frozen
1/2 cup raisins*
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 eggs
1 cup raw white sugar
2 cups milk (lowfat okay, but don’t use nonfat)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Place bread and raisins in a 2-quart casserole or baking dish (an 11-by-7-inch pan works). In a large bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour evenly over malassadas. Let stand for one-half hour so custard soaks into bread. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the baking pan in another, larger pan of hot water (water should come half way up the sides of the smaller pan). Bake 65 minutes. Serve warm. May be gently reheated in low oven or 20 percent power microwave.

* Some people feel strongly about raisins, strongly enough to ban them. You can use another dried fruit, some fresh apple or just omit.

P.S. Stephanie says I am not the only one who has been tempted to buy a box of malassadas just so I could make bread pudding.

Tomorrow: Learn the restaurant rule.

2 Comments

  1. Vadalia

    June 29, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Soft, creamy, hot bread pudding made with Portuguese sweet bread, used to be one of my 5 best-loved dishes. Because of my food intolerances to dairy and wheat, I can now indulge only with my mind and memories. I can almost smell the intoxicating aroma of your recipe. What a wonderful memory you have given me today.

  2. Argyle

    July 6, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Just wanted to thank you for posting this…I no longer live here in Hawaii but I happen to be here for a week or so. I saw this recipe and really wanted to make it…and I got the opportunity when I got invited to a potluck. Yes, I did have to buy a box of malassadas to make this, but it was oh, so worth it 🙂

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