Hawaii is so much more than shaving ice and malassadas. These two treats are just a few of the legendary desserts found at O’ahu’s bakeries, where treats roam continents, from brioche tarts with liliko’i curd (passion fruit) to poi mochi donuts.
There are older places like the 70-year-old Liliha bakery that are downright nostalgic. Shortening-based crusts and whipped cream (instead of whipped cream) still dominate many pastry cases. (Health trends are largely over in Hawaii, which is why you can still find fried ple pies at McDonald’s.) Then there are younger outfits like the Local General Store, a new pop-up that sells locally grown fruit – including cocoa – folded into shortbreads .
While Janese influence is evident, the Philippines are more subtly represented in Hawaii’s baked goods, reflecting the state’s second largest ethnicity. Some of O’ahu’s best-known bakeries, like Liliha and Paalaa Kai, offer ensaimadas (buns smeared with margarine and sugar), while each of the more explicit Filipino bakeries does one thing exceptionally well, despite being mostly reliable hot-from-the- Oven pandesal (bread rolls).
Hawai’i’s bakery area has remained static for a long time, limited to old favorites. But recent additions have added a welcome mix of new flavors and techniques to make life so much sweeter.