What to give your true love during the twelve days of Christmas? We’ve got a basket overflowing with suggestions. Here are Maui’s best baked goods from local pastry shops—from Grandma’s home-baked manju to five-star fruit tarts. (All that’s missing is the partridge in the pear tree!)
1 Yule log
Island residents hardly need to stoke the fire to keep warm during the holidays, though many still enjoy celebrating with a festive Yule log. These French cakes, whimsically decorated to look like fireplace logs, have become popular Christmas treats around the world. Known as Bûche de Noël in their homeland, “they commemorate the warmth of Christmas,” says José Krall, owner of the Maui Bake Shop. The French native set up shop on Maui several decades ago. He’s been supplying islanders with traditional Yule logs ever since. Krall hand-sculpts the sugared leaves and miniature mushrooms that adorn the rolled cakes, making them appear as though they’re fresh from the forest. Be sure to order yours well in advance.
The Maui Bake Shop, 2092 Vineyard St., Wailuku (808) 242-0064.
2 Chocolate Chantilly cakes
T. Komoda Store & Bakery may be famous for its cream puffs, but those in the know are quick to scoop up the bakery’s other best-seller: chocolate Chantilly cake. A distant cousin of the whip-cream-based French classic, Hawaiian-style Chantilly is maple colored and ultra-buttery. The Komoda’s bakers slather this addictively good frosting on light-as-air, cocoa-flavored chiffon cake. Local advice: never show up to a party without one. To be safe, bring two.
T. Komoda Store & Bakery, 3674 Baldwin Ave., Makawao, (808) 572-7261.
3 Sweet potato pies with haupia topping
Regale your sweetie with another island specialty, sweet potato pie. Brilliant purple Okinawan sweet potatoes are mashed and blended with vanilla to create a divine pie filling. Topped with haupia (coconut cream pudding), this dessert is truly “broke da mouth”—island slang for delicious, and the name of the bakery where pies can be purchased.
Broke Da Mouth, 190 Alamaha St. # B, Kahului, (808) 873-9255.
4 Fresh fruit tarts
The bakery case in Fairmont Kea Lani’s Caffe Ciao deli brims with sweet temptations: tiramisu, éclairs, chocolate mousse, gelato, and cookies. Our favorite for special occasions? The luscious fruit tart. Topped with ample strawberries, pineapple, and blueberries, the vanilla cream-filled delicacies are an elegant addition to any holiday table.
Caffe Ciao, 4100 Wailea Alanui Dr., (808) 875-4100.
5 Coconut manju
Back in the 1940s, Tasty Crust was a pie shop, not the popular diner it is today. “Every morning the truck would line up and my parents would fill thousands of boxes with pies for the troops,” says Jeremy Kozuki. The Kozukis sold Tasty Crust and later opened Home Maid Bakery down the road. Hoping to create a signature dessert to put their new bakery on the map, Jeremy’s mother, Monica, combined the family’s trusty piecrust recipe with manju, the Japanese pastry popular with the locals. She had a hit. Four decades later, Home Maid Bakery’s crispy manju is still a top seller. Of the multitude of manju fillings—guava, apple, peach, and sweet potato—coconut is the most popular. At just $2.99 for a tray of five, you can afford to sample several kinds. Like pie, they’re best served warm.
Home Maid Bakery,1005 Lower Main St., Wailuku, (808) 244-7015.
6 Almond croissants
Few pastries are as difficult to master as the croissant. An exemplary croissant has a crisp, flaky shell that gives way to a soft, puffy center composed of thin, buttery layers. This alchemy is achieved daily at La Provence, a tiny slice of France up in Kula. In this food writer’s opinion, only one thing can improve upon a traditional croissant: the delicate flavor of almond. Slathered with ground almond paste and sprinkled with powdered sugar, the almond croissants at La Provence are perfection.
La Provence, 3158 Lower Kula Rd., Kula, (808) 878-1313.
7 Bags of coconut candy
Kula candy-maker Frances Harold slow roasts local coconut and lightly sweetens it with cane juice. She bags it up and delivers it to Kula Marketplace, the gourmet grocery and gift store on the way to Haleakala National Park. The crowds trekking up the mountain have discovered just how ono-licious this island-inspired treat is.
Kula Marketplace, 15200 Haleakala Hwy., Kula, (808) 878-2135.
8 Lima-bean manju
Luckily, when Sam Sato opened his Spreckelsville camp store in 1933, his mom was on hand to help provision the shelves. Mrs. Sato baked lima-bean manju, a traditional Japanese pastry with sweet bean filling, for her nineteen-year-old’s store. The home-baked treats gained a loyal following and soon became a favorite souvenir to bring back from a visit to Maui. Little has changed since. Sam’s daughter and son-in-law still turn out the same quality product, though the family business has migrated to Wailuku’s Millyard. They’re just seventy-five cents a pop, so go ahead and fill your loved ones’ stockings with tasty manju that bring back sweet memories of Maui’s plantation days.
Sam Sato’s, 1750 Wili Pa Loop, Wailuku, (808) 244-7124.
9 Pumpkin pies
Hitting up a health-food store for dessert might sound counterintuitive, but the in-house bakery at Mana Foods turns out a surprising assortment of delicious baked goods—all made with wholesome ingredients. During the holidays, Mana bakers quadruple their pie production. Sweetened with sugar cane, Mana’s pumpkin pies have just the right blend of sweetness and spice. If “to each his own” is your mantra, you can serve your guests miniature pumpkin pies for just $3.65 apiece.
Mana Foods, 49 Baldwin Ave., Pa‘ia, (808) 579-8078.
10 Triple-berry pie slices
One of Maui’s finest restaurants, Lahaina Grill, offers its signature pie to go. A trio of berries—fresh blueberries and raspberries, and black currants in the form of creme de cassis liqueur—are blanketed by a flakey crust fortified with sour cream. Ten slices of this sophisticated classic are enough to transport you and your true love to pie heaven.
Lahaina Grill, 127 Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina, (808) 667-5117.
11 Gingerbread cookies
When Heidi Cramer closed her corner bakery in Pa‘ia last year, many a pastry lover around the island wept. But, never fear, you can find some of the sweets that made Cakewalk so popular down the street at Ono Gelato. (Take that, Scrooge!) Cramer’s gingerbread cookies, loaded with chunks of chewy ginger, are great Christmas treats on their own, or paired with a scoop of gelato.
Ono Gelato, 115D Hana Hwy., Pa‘ia, (808) 579-9201.
12 Pecan butterball cookies
For a dozen snow-covered cookies, head to Stillwell’s Bakery, perched on the hill at the edge of Wailuku. Well, all right, the cookies aren’t really covered in snow, but the generous dusting of powdered sugar sure looks like it! Each pecan butterball has a dollop of apricot jam and a sweet, nutty flavor—perfect for celebrating those starry holiday nights with a warm cup of cider or mint tea.
Stillwell’s, 1740 Kaahumanu Ave., Wailuku, (808) 243-2243.