Holiday Gift Guide: Hidden Finds for the Sweets Lover

Five sweet gift ideas for your favorite sugar fiend.

Hey there, sweet things. Though you might land us on the naughty list any other time of the year, everyone knows that we get a pass for the holidays. So bring on the sugarplums and bowls full jiggly jelly because Santa’s not the only one with a weakness for a plate of late-night cookies.


Strawberry mochi (left) and truffles from Choco Le‘a



Rule No. 1 of gift giving: Chocolate is always appropriate. And if the chocolate comes in the form a truffle, even better. Local chocolatiers Erin Kanno Uehara and Colins Kawai of Choco le‘a are the very example of self-taught genius. With years of practice and a taste for sweet perfection, the uncle-niece team turn out amazing truffles in an assortment of flavors like Vietnamese cinnamon, habanero lilikoi and the ever popular mochi, a silky dark chocolate truffle with a chi chi dango center from the mochi masters at Nisshodo (also a great place to find a sweet gift).

Choco le’a Boutique, gift boxes with two to 20 pieces are $4.99 to $39.99, Manoa Square, 2909 Lowrey Ave.,


Strawberry mochi

Everyone knows that when in Hilo, the only mandatory omiyage that’s coming home with you is the strawberry mochi from Two Ladies Kitchen. You wouldn’t board a flight home without it. If the Big Island is too far to travel for the sweets lover in your life, then you need to meet Saturday Grandma, who makes the coveted strawberry mochi from Alice Yamashiro’s original Hilo recipe. And she makes it in Pearl City. You can make it there and back before Christmas morning.

Available at Made in Hawai‘i Foods, 98-718 Moanalua Rd. # A18 , Pearl City, 484-0052,



In these islands, you can’t toss a chocolate chip without hitting some cookie company or other. Companies that make cookies — the crunchy kind, of course — are everywhere.  But narrow them down and you’ll find that Lynn’s Hono Ono Cookies, sold out of her little saimin shop in Pauoa, are among the best. She sells them in a variety of flavors, but all you need to know is this: Get the peanut butter ones. And get them in the massive tub that holds about 60 cookies, slap a bow on it and call it done.

Lynn’s Saimin and Cookie Shop, $11 for a tub of cookies, 1951 Pacific Heights Road, 537-1890



It’s off to the ‘ohana holiday gathering you go, with nothing for Tutukane. Again. Let’s face it. Grandpas are hard to shop for. Try this: Pick up one of Holy’s Bakery Buttered Apple Pies and show up at the party knowing you nailed it. Flown in from the Big Island, Holy’s frozen apple pie is a make-and-bake flashback to old-timey diner pies that are sweet and buttery, with that soft crust that makes you forget that piecrust is supposed to be flakey. Never mind. This pie is buttery and that’s all that matters. It’s even part of the baking instructions that tell you to bake the pie on a sheet pan to catch all the buttery drippings.  Pies are flown in daily and sold at Hawaiian Style surf shop on Kapiolani Blvd.

Holy’s Bakery Buttered Apple Pie, $16.95, available in the frozen food section of Foodland, various locations              


Sweet Vinegar

The boss is having her annual Christmas party, and you’d give up a few sick days to be able to show up to the party—just once—with something other than a bottle of wine and a set of “Holiday Votives” in weird scents like sugar cookie. Get inventive with your bottled gifts at Island Olive Oil Company where the oil and vinegar options aren’t just EVOO and balsamic. For a sweet take on the oil and vinegar pairing, try the Persian lime oil with the Tahitian vanilla bean balsamic or just pick a couple of sweet-tart balsamic vinegars like the cranberry-pear, the blackberry ginger or the dark chocolate balsamic.

Island Olive Oil Company, oils and vinegar varieties from $16.95, Ward Center, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd., across from Goma Tei, 388-8912,


Read more stories by Kawehi Haug