James Beard Award-winning Cookbook Author

Yummy Hawaiian Desserts

I get a huge kick seeing so many Hawaiian bakers taking full advantage of their own wizardry to create outstanding desserts from their plentiful supply of local products. Bananas, coconuts, sweet potatoes, mangoes, lilikoi (passion fruit), coffee, macadamia nuts, vanilla, and chocolate have found their way into all sorts of mouth-watering sweets.

On a recent trip to “Coffee ‘n Epicurea Patisserie” on Mamalahoa Highway near Captain Cook on Hawaii’s Big Island (now closed), I gobbled down four of them.

At the top is Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato Haupia Pie; Lilikoi Pie on the left and Lilikoi Cheesecake fill in the center; and Chantilly Puff on the bottom rounds out the quartet.

Haupia is a classic and traditional Hawaiian dessert of coconut milk in a cornstarch-thickened base. It’s often poured into a pan and cut into squares to serve by itself. Here it acts as a topping for this favorite island pie.

Lilikoi (I just love that name!) or passion fruit finds its way into many sweets as a puree. It’s especially flavorful in ice creams, pies, cheesecakes, jelly, and glazes. My own favorites are Lilikoi Chiffon Pie, a specialty on the island of Kauai, and Lilikoi Cheesecake.

Chantilly Puff is essentially a cream puff filled with a pastry cream and topped with a cooked butterscotch topping. I don’t know the recipe’s origin, but it is particularly popular on the island of Oahu and is a specialty of the Liliha Bakery, where they flavor the pastry cream with chocolate and stick a bunch of the puffs together with the butterscotch topping.

Bakers and bakeries in Hawaii continue to surprise and impress me.  The links lead to recipes, history, and pictures of these scrumptious treats.

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