On my first trip to Hawaii dessert in Waikiki meant a tub of fresh cut mango or papaya from one of the ABC stores. On this trip I discovered two new desserts that have completely changed my idea of must eat treats on the islands: Malasadas and Cocoa Puffs. One night at the ABC store the clerk tried to upsell me on a chocolate bar at the register. I told her that I just ate 3 malasadas and she said “Oh. Dat mo’ bettah!”.
For malasada’s you have to go to Leonard’s Bakery [leonardshawaii.com] where they are famous. A malasada is a portuguese pastry made of an eggy yeast dough that is deep fried and coated with sugar. Think of it like a puffy crepe rather than a cakey doughnut. You can also get them with a cream or fruit filling.
I’ve heard them described as eggy doughnut holes but you need to be careful. After our dinner at the Rainbow Drive-In we headed up the street [maps.google.com] to Leonard’s for dessert. My cousin expected them to be doughnut hole sized and ordered 16 of them for his family of 5. When they handed him the box he was a little shocked at the weight. When he opened the box you could see his expression change from being horrified at just how many calories he had just paid for to how amazingly delicious the malasadas looked! Just so you know, malasadas are typically a little larger than an extra-large chicken egg.
At Leonard’s they are busy enough that you’ll get them freshly made and hot which is how they should be eaten. I’ve heard that the doughnuts and other baked goods at Leonard’s are very good too, but really I only had eyes for the malasadas. Unfilled malasadas were 90 cents each and filled ones were $1.25. The haupia (coconut) pictured above the and chocolate are must trys but be sure to sample at least one (or three or five) unfilled ones. It’s worth it! They also have pricing by the dozen and half dozen.
The parking lot at Leonards is pretty small and street parking is very limited; however, cars turn over in the lot frequently so try going around the block a couple of times and you’ll probably score a spot.
After eating at Rainbow Drive-in and Leonard’s we decided to wait a few days before trying the coco puffs at the Lilliha Bakery [lilihabakeryhawaii.com]. Don’t confuse these with Cocoa Puffs – the chocolately General Mills breakfast cereal. Coco puffs are profiteroles (aka cream puffs, aka pâte à choux) filled with a chocolate cream and topped with a coconut topping.
There are a number of different flavors of cream puff for sale at Liliha’s but they are famous for the chocolate filled ones (bottom right). The cream is silky, chocolately, and just sweet enough to be dessert. As the coco puffs have no chcolate on the outside be careful not to mix these up with the chocolate cream puffs that, while still really good, are filled with a traditional pastry cream and topped with chocolate.
When we arrived at Liliha the bakery was pretty full. Given that it is located away from the tourist areas [maps.google.com] it seemed as though the crowd was mostly locals. Next to the bakery section there is a coffee shop counter that serves plate lunches and diner food. The coffee shop looked really good but we didn’t have time to eat in. Cocopuffs were $1.29 each or $14.25 per dozen. Prices for other flavors varied slightly. We also tried a few other pastries but really it’s the puffs that we remember best.
The parking lot is pretty big and there is loads of street parking, but make sure to wade through the crowd to get a number from the ticket machine right away to minimize the amount of time between getting there and stuffing your face full of coco puffs!
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