Pumpkin, Spice & Everything Nice
With Halloween right around the corner, we are at the onset of the most festive time of year. If you think about it, no other timespan is as distinctly defined by the foods we eat than the holiday season. There could be no Christmas without candy canes and gingerbread cookies, no Thanksgiving without turkey and cranberry sauce, and as we embrace autumn’s arrival, consuming pumpkin-flavored everything — lattes, pies, breads, you name it — is essential to soaking up the season.
But let’s not be fooled, Ono readers! Not all “pumpkiny” treats are created equal. We’ve got to be discerning when seeking out the creme de la creme of these fall-time favorites.
The best ones — which must, of course, be made with real pumpkin puree — come from the ovens of Honolulu’s finest bakers, who are ready to put a little pumpkin spice in your step with their spooky-good desserts.
The season for gorging on pumpkin may be short, but it sure is sweet at Cake Works.
During October and November, the oasis of specialty cakes, French macarons and more is bringing back a number of adored seasonal treats, including Pumpkin Spice Macarons ($2 each). These jovial almond meringue cookies are made dreamy with a white chocolate ganache and pumpkin filling, as well as a perfect pop of pumpkin spice. The bakery’s addicting Pumpkin Crunch Cheesecake ($19.75 for 7 inch, $33.50 for 9 inch) topped with pecan brittle also is back by popular demand.
Owner and chef Abigail Langlas says by the time September rolls around, customers already are asking about her limited-time offerings. “When you haven’t eaten (pumpkin) all year, it just tastes really good when you get it because it’s so different,” she explains.
This year, Langlas is excited to offer Pumpkin Cranberry Pecan Bread ($2.50 per slice, $15 for 2-pound loaf) for the first time in the shop. With a consistency like banana bread, this recipe is topped with sublime streusel and spotted with cranberries and pecans. “Pumpkin is a good base for baked goods because it makes them moister,” notes the owner.
When visiting Cake Works, be sure to ask about the Halloween-themed tricks and treats Langlas has in store, and while you’re at it, indulge in one last bite of Pumpkin Spice Cupcake ($1.65 mini, $3 regular) with cream cheese icing.
2820 S. King St., Honolulu
As an experienced baker, Niel Koep aims to let pure ingredients shine without over-sweetening them or clouding them with other flavors. He does this masterfully with the array of pumpkin-primped goodies he whips up this time of year at his Manoa bakery, Fendu Boulangerie.
“I like the actual flavor of pumpkin. I think it’s underrated and it goes well with other flavors, too,” says the chef and owner.
Koep thoughtfully combines the classic fall ingredient with chunks of chocolaty heaven in Pumpkin Financier with Dark Chocolate ($3.85), a dessert inspired by French almond cakes that traditionally are shaped like gold bars and served in France’s financial district. He adds a golden touch of pumpkin to his version, which is perfect for bringing to the office or packing for lunch. “It’s a very nice, textured item. It’s like an elegant pound cake,” he describes.
Pumpkin and Hazelnut Cheesecake ($4.75) dusted with nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla soon will be flying off the shelves as well. Mascarpone and cream cheese ideally complement pumpkin puree and ground hazelnuts in this petite baked gem.
When Thanksgiving approaches, Fendu will offer its Traditional Pumpkin Pie ($21 for 9 inch), which is marked by a fully cooked pie crust — not an easy feat to achieve. The popular pie also is packed with real-pumpkin flavor and just lightly spiced and sweetened.
And thanks to Fendu, we never have to live with pumpkin cravings again, as its Pumpkin Bread ($4.75 small, $8.75 medium, $12.75 large) with raisins and walnuts is available all year long.
2752 Woodlawn Drive