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Recipe: Make Kona Café’s Tonga Toast at home

by Samantha Davis-Friedman

It’s been more than a month since Disneyland and Walt Disney World closed their gates due to COVID-19. But fans who are missing the parks have found a way to bring a bit of Disney magic into their homes by recreating their favorite Disney foods from sweet treats like churros and Mickey-shaped beignets to Disneyland’s iconic Monte Cristo sandwich.

tonga toast
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

“Part of the experience [at a Disney park] is that we’re wonderful at storytelling,” says Disneyland Resort Executive Chef John State. “But ultimately, there’s something that has to connect with our guests in their hearts and their minds…that they’ll never forget.”

Anyone who has spent a day in a Disney park knows that food plays a significant part in connecting to our hearts, minds, and of course, our stomachs. Whether they’re a “three full meals” person or an all-day snacker, many park-goers plan their entire experience around what they’re going to eat, and some Disney foods are so craveable, they’re impossible to forget.

Tonga Toast

kona cafe
Photo by Samantha Davis-Friedman

Every year, the talented chefs at Walt Disney World Resort come up with new culinary creations to tantalize our taste buds, but there are a handful of signature items that will always be on the menu. One of these classics is Tonga Toast at Kona Café in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. People go bananas for this deep-fried, banana-stuffed breakfast treat, so it’s no surprise that the recipe has been handed down from chef to chef for nearly 50 years.

tonga toast
Photo by Samantha Davis-Friedman

“I love Tonga Toast,” says ToniAnne Mizzi Hall, co-founder of Pixie Dust Vacation Planners. “It’s a must-have any time I stay at the Polynesian.”

kona cafe
Photo by Samantha Davis-Friedman

Walt Disney first visited Hawaii in 1934 and fell in love with the culture, so his first resort concept for Walt Disney World was the Polynesian because he wanted to bring the Hawaiian culture to Florida. Since my older son attends the University of Hawaii, I have a particular fondness for anything Hawaiian (and also anything with bananas), so recreating this island-inspired recipe was an obvious choice for my younger son and me.

tonga toast
Photo by Samantha Davis-Friedman

The chefs at Kona Café use an unsliced 12-inch square French loaf—no doubt freshly baked by Disney pastry chefs—and cut it into four 3-inch slices. Since I wasn’t able to find unsliced square bread at my local store, I opted for “Texas Toast”-style thick-cut French bread, which is only 1 inch thick. Overachievers can certainly bake their own bread and slice it to three inches for a more authentic Tonga Toast experience; however, other than the bread-to-banana ratio being different than the original, our version was “ono” (which means “delicious” in Hawaiian).

kona cafe
Photo by Samantha Davis-Friedman

Check out our at-home recipe below:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 slices of 1-inch thick “Texas Toast”-style French bread
  • 2 large bananas, peeled and cut into quarters

For Batter

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups of whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

For Cinnamon Sugar

  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon

Directions

  1. Combine Cinnamon Sugar ingredients in a medium bowl (large enough to roll toast). Set aside.
  2. For the batter, beat eggs in a medium bowl (large enough to dip toast). Add milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Preheat oil to 350 degrees in large pan. Be sure to use a cooking thermometer to make sure the oil doesn’t get any hotter, or it will burn.
  4. Cut each banana in half crosswise, then each piece in half lengthwise.
  5. Using a small pairing knife, cut a pocket in the middle of each slide of bread and put two banana pieces into each pocket.
  6. Dip stuffed bread into batter, covering both sides and place carefully into the hot oil. (Alternately, cook in an air fryer for 10-15 minted each side at 400 degrees. See video below.)
  7. Cook 2-3 minutes and then flip the toast and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side.
  8. Remove and drain excess oil.
  9. Roll toast in cinnamon sugar.
  10. Serve with strawberry jam and/or maple syrup.

Watch as we try to make Tonga Toast at home in an air fryer:


We want to see your creations if you decide to give this Tonga Toast recipe a try! Be sure to share photos with us on Twitter at @Attractions.

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