Big Island Candies offers frozen manju you can bake at home

Courtesy: Big Island Candies

Big Island Candies recently launched a new item to bake at home- a frozen pie crust manju. Available in three flavors- blueberry, ube (purple sweet potato), and koshian (smooth sweet red bean paste)- the 20-ounce bags filled with nine frozen manju retail for $15.50 at the Hilo Flagship Store and Factory, and for $17.00 at the Ala Moana Center location. Those on the Big Island can also buy the frozen manju at KTA Super Stores.

A Japanese confection comprised of a pastry often filled with bean paste, manju are popular in Hawaii. Big Island Candies took koshian, the smoother paste counterpart to tsubuan (often referred to locally as azuki beans), and enrobed them with the signature flaky pie crust dough. To add flavor variety, there’s a blueberry confiture-filled version as well as one made stuffed with ube, or a purple sweet potato puree. Baking requires either the use of a muffin/cupcake pan or a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, with the pastries baked for one hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until golden brown.

“With so many quarantining at home, we felt people would appreciate our expanded line of take and bake treats as well as local comfort flavors,” says Sherrie Holi, President and Chief Operating Officer.

I got the traditional one (azuki beans), which comes ten to a bag. It was as easy as promised: pop them in a muffin tin, bake for an hour, and done. No greasing the pan (my pan is nonstick) or anything. I tricked my friends into being my taste testers by offering them a dumpling then telling them they had to give me feedback. Everyone liked it – buttery, flaky dough and moist, sugary bean filling. “It was delicious! Flaky on the outside; sweet, smooth, soft on the inside!” reports Eugene Tanner, perhaps my most manju-connoissuer friend. He hails from Maui, and he’s a longtime customer of the famous Home Maid Bakery in Kahului as well as Sam Sato’s in Wailuku. He knows from manju. Stuart, Sunshine, Betsy, Joy, and Joy’s mom all had similar comments.

The best part about this frozen manju is that I could hand it out and say, “I baked manju,” which made me feel like a kitchen hero, when all I did was pull them out of the freezer and stick them in the oven. But that can be our little secret.

Big Island Candies owns and operates two retail outlets in Hawaii. The Hilo flagship store and factory is located at 585 Hinano Street, while the Ala Moana store is on the street level of Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., near the Center Court. For store hours, call the Hilo flagship store and factory at (808) 935-8890 or the Ala Moana store at (808) 946-9213. For more information or to order online, visit the website at

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Diane Ako

Peace of mind By Diane Ako I like to reflect on life. Sometimes it’s philosophically. Sometimes it’s humorously. For all its beauty, life is far too difficult a journey to take alone. You need the support and connection with others to help carry you along the way. Writing brings me that connection– within and without. It clarifies my thoughts and feelings. It helps me reach out to others for advice, wisdom, or feedback. Your thoughts become your actions. Your actions become you. A wise yogi- Patanjali- said, “Speak what is true. Speak what is pleasant.” Let’s speak of things pleasant to one another and seek some peace of mind along the way. ABOUT Diane Ako joined Hawaii: In Real Life in October 2016. She likes being part of a community of local bloggers – people who like writing and sharing, like she does. Ako is an anchor/ reporter at Island News (KITV4 – ABC) in Honolulu. She previously anchored and reported at KHON2 (FOX) and KHNL (NBC), and at stations in California, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. She freelance writes for NMG Network's magazines. In between news jobs, in 2017, she launched and ran her own p.r. company, Diane Ako PR. From 2010-2014, she headed the public relations department at Halekulani Corporation, which oversees luxury resort Halekulani and boutique hotel Waikiki Parc. She’s been blogging since 2009 – before Hawaii: IRL, she wrote for The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the state’s largest daily newspaper, where her stories garnered a dozen journalism awards and an Emmy nomination. Ako has a BA in Communications from Menlo College and an MA in Political Science from University of Hawaii at Manoa. She volunteers as a board member of the Honolulu Gay & Lesbian Cultural Foundation, a Shinto shrine maiden at Daijingyu Temple, a citizen-scientist studying shrimp, and a yoga teacher at a senior center.

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