Food Box

Slice it up.
Image: nina buck

Aloha Baked

Cheesecake has been around since ancient Greece. When the Romans came along, they adapted the recipe, carrying it into greater Europe. Europeans created their own versions–Italians use ricotta; Germans use cottage cheese–which then traveled with them to the New World. The recipe most familiar to Americans was born in the early 20th century with the invention of cream cheese by New York dairy farmers. In today’s era, what about Hawaii?

“Other people are making cheesecake,” says David Bearden, the friendly founder of Hawaiian Cheesecakes, but his are unique. Bearden makes New York style cheesecake with local toppings like rich Kona coffee and Kula strawberry. He started baking cheesecake at age 16, when he prepared the decadent dessert for a family Christmas party. The following year, he had orders for over 100 cheesecakes. Bearden left Hawaii for school and work, but came home in 2008 and happily resumed baking cheesecakes.

Hawaiian Cheesecakes use 75 percent local ingredients. The butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla are all locally sourced. Strawberries come from Waimea and lilikoi come from farmers’ markets, gardens and wild groves on Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island. Only the cream cheese is imported because, according to Bearden, it isn’t produced here. Yet.

Samples of the luscious local desserts ($5 slice/$35 cake) can be found at the Honolulu and Ala Moana famers’ markets. Creamy, not too sweet. Gluten-free and glorious for the holidays! —