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 www.bigislandcandies.com.