Story by Krista Garcia | Photo by Ryan Siphers
Mitzi Toro and her staff call themselves “Cookie Elves,” and upon entering her shop you’ll see why. The 300-square-foot space has been transformed into a fairytale, with gnarled stumps, tiny cottages, flickering lanterns and giant flowers — a “Bavarian Sweet Shop of Aloha.”
“My whimsical shop was inspired by my late father,” says Toro. “He came from Germany to the States, and eventually to Maui to follow the American dream.”
Toro’s cookie connection began in 2012 when the then-schoolteacher held a fundraising bake sale at a local farmer’s market; she wanted to give back to the nurses at the Maui Memorial Medical Center who had taken such good care of her terminally ill father. Toro’s cookies were so popular that she decided to start a business. Now, nine years later, life has come full circle and Toro has realized her own American dream.
Today, The Maui Cookie Lady’s creations are enjoyed around the world, and Toro has received a number of accolades, including being named one of seven women-owned “businesses they love” by the Food Network. She has appeared on Good Morning America, QVC and Rachel Ray, and has been featured in Forbes, Men’s Health and O Magazine, among others.
What makes her cookies so special? Toro sources Maui-grown and local ingredients, such as Haleakalā Creamery caramel, Hawaiian sea salt, Koloa Rum, liliko‘i (passionfruit) from Ha‘ikū and macadamia nuts from Waihe‘e Valley. Every few weeks she releases new flavors and limited-edition confections. To date, she has created more than 220 varieties and shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, Toro opened The Maui Cookie Lady retail shop in Makawao in December 2020, “with imagination, paint and friends from [several local] theatres who were out of work,” she says. Together, they designed the shop of every child’s dreams (and some grown-ups, too!) and built it using upcycled and refurbished materials sourced in the Hawaiian Islands.
Stop by the shop and donate a non-perishable item to help feed Maui residents in need, send something sweet to a frontline worker or just grab an eco-friendly bottle of delicious
three-ingredient lemonade. And of course, buy a cookie — they are indeed worth the calories!
The Maui Cookie Lady, 3643 Baldwin Ave., Makawao | 793.3172 | themauicookielady.com | IG/FB @themauicookielady