Inventive Island Sweets
WE SCOURED THE ISLANDS FOR DESSERTS that define dizzying decadence, others that offer a whimsical look at life-after-entrees, and with nostalgia, those that stand the test of time.
Morimoto Waikiki pastry chef Daniel Skunick’s ability to weave complex flavors always results in a sinfonietta of sugar and spice. With his “Matcha,” inspired by haupia and macaroons, the semifreddo sandwiched between two matcha-flavored meringues. Garnished with more matcha, and coconut iced Jell-O cubes; the structure gives way to a crumble of sweetened, dried coconut powder that resembles fine, white sand. A final garnish comes with a flourish of Hawaiian honeycomb and sprigs of micro amaranth from Nalo Farms.
Pastry chef Josiah Heulle of the St. Regis Princeville’s Makana Terrace dining room has garnered our devotion with his “Maui
Gold Pineapple Clouds.” These mini-malasadas are filled with a confit of fresh pineapple, deep-fried and served on a melting bed of macadamia nut brittle ice cream. Toss in views of picture-perfect Hanalei Bay, and this is a hard dessert to beat.
Chef Laurent Tourondel’s restaurant is the 21st century answer to the classic bistro. But next to the steaks is a chalkboard of desserts that changes almost daily. Laura Palace is the passionate pastry chef whose dedication to the sweet life runs deep.
It was a recent stroll through the markets of Chinatown that inspired her bitesized Profiteroles, which also caught our attention. The choux pastry buns are filled with milk chocolate, sprinkled with coconut sauce and caramelized macadamia nuts.
When tasked with creating the ultimate complimentary gift for Halekulani’s guests, it’s no surprise that Executive Chef Vikram Garg wanted them to eat their memories.
But how to capture the essence of a perfect mai tai or Queen Emma Rose Tea? “We put them in chocolate,” says Garg. He flew experts in from Paris to help create the storied hotel’s essence “in much the same way as the world’s great perfumiers create exotic scents.”
There are a few classic desserts that are best left unadulterated. The classic Tarte Tatin can be found in near-perfect form at Alan Takasaki’s Le Bistro.
The inside-out puff pastry is such an art form, that when the pastry chef who has been folding the butter for this item for nine years is on vacation, Takasaki can taste the difference.
The balance of lightness and flavor, sweet and subtle-perhaps in this dish more than any-the devil is truly in the littlest details.