The Portuguese sure know their desserts. If you’re a fan of the Belem tart, you’ll love what they’ve done for Hawaii. Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu makes malasadas, a light balled form of the doughnut. After an overnight flight from Sydney to Honolulu with very little sleep, one cinnamon malasada was enough to perk me up, the cinnamon sugar coating my tongue as I crunched down on the dough. It’s very difficult to make a fried doughnut substitute without it becoming dense, but Leonard’s manages to do just that. Their Kapahalu Avenue location is the original, drawing in tourists and locals for a sugar fix on the famous doughnuts, crème puffs, pao doce and other unusual desserts. The best part of any trip to Leonard's is that these sugary delights will only cost you $1, cheaper than a cup of coffee.
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Leonard's malasadas—oversized, sugar-dusted, jelly-or-cream-filled Portuguese donuts—are so beloved on Oahu that we couldn't pass them up. They're so popular, in fact, that the parking lot quickly fills up and cars (like mine) idle on the side street in the 3-minute zone while someone hops out and darts inside to buy the sweet treats. In the spirit of open-mindedness, we tried one of just about every flavor, but one malasada is probably plenty for the average appetite. Regular flavors like chocolate and custard vie with more exotic offerings such as banana, coconut (haupia), or mango. We liked the chocolate and custard best, but at just $1 each, you can afford a breakfast buffet.
Leonard's claims to be Hawaii's first malasada bakery. These eggy, doughnut-like pastries originated in Azores but became a Hawaiian staple once bakers started filling them with local flavors like lilikoi (passionfruit) and haupia (coconut) custard.