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Hawaiian Happy Cakes


Hawaiian Happy Cakes “Miss Santa” offers tasty bites of their Pineapple Macadamia Nut Cake at the KCC Farmers Market ~ 12.19.15

Well, we’re on the home stretch to Christmas, and chances are you either finished all your gift shopping, or you’re the procrastinator who always waits until Christmas Eve to get ‘er done. Of course, snacks and treats are always popular gifts, with the entrances to the likes of Costco and Safeway stacked with tempting holiday baskets and specially packed gift sets of Macadamia Nut goodies, crackers, cookies, candies ‘n such.

One made in Hawaii treat that would make a nice gift you may or may not have heard of is Hawaiian Happy Cakes.Like other very exclusive made in Hawaii specialty food products, you can’t find Hawaiian Happy Cakes at any local retail store, but only directly through their website, in person on Oahu direct from the manufacturer (you can arrange for “drive-through” pick-up from their office in Waikiki), or in this case, every Saturday morning at the popular KCC Farmers Market.

That Hawaiian Happy Cakes Owner would be Owen O’Callaghan, shown above 3rd from the right… as if anyone else there looks like an O’Callaghan, right? lol

Owen bought the company about 10 years ago from the original owner who started baking Hawaiian Happy Cakes all the way back in 1967 at Kemo’o Farms out in Wahiawa.

An interesting fact about Owen with that very Irish last name of O’Callaghan, is he actually was born and raised in Ireland until the age of 8, then moved to the states where he would later become a stock broker. One visit to Hawaii about a decade ago and he fell in love, moved here,  bought and took over this business, and the rest is history.

As you see, Hawaiian Happy Cakes packaging is absolutely gorgeous and elegant, and would fit right in at a boutique retail shop, however currently only available at the previously mentioned sources.

While it’s shown here unboxed, yet still in the cardboard tray they were baked in, this whole content is wrapped in air-tight plastic, which affords each Hawaiian Happy Cake a three week shelf life at room temperature. Longer naturally if you refrigerate or freeze them. Of which to note on that, the samples Owen kindly provided for this review were baked just a few days prior to them being personally delivered to me. Mahalo Owen!

So I asked Owen what would be the best way to serve them? To which he suggested the usual way like any cake of this nature — being it’s similar to a fruit cake — to heat it up briefly in a toaster oven to “freshen it up”, served alongside a nice hot cup ‘o joe or some ice cream. So I did both!

The quick blast in the toaster oven slightly caramelized one side of the Pineapple Macadamia Cake (the underside of that slice), while the heat also turned the rich chocolate fudge nice ‘n “oo’ee-goo’ee” underneath the surface. Nice! The ice cream shown served with it is Meadow Gold Vanilla Ice Cream (the one that comes in the gallon-size tub at “Cosco’s”), topped with Island Princess Macadamia Nuts. Mo’ Mac Nuts, mo’ betttah!

OK, let’s do this. Hai, itadakimasu!

And? As noted, this is similar to a fruit cake  recipe, so it’s on the firm, “tight” and crumbly side, texture-wise, not soft and supple like say a Guava Chiffon cake. There’s definitely tons of chopped Macadamia Nuts and pineapple throughout, screaming its namesake out loud in flavor.


Owen and the Hawaiian Happy Cakes team at KCC Farmers Market ~ 12.19.15

Back to texture — or actually moisture level – this is no different than most cakes, being it’s not going to be oozing out gelatinous fruity fillings, creamy custards or melted butter anytime soon. Which I did note to Owen that is the reason I in general DO NOT LIKE CAKES, and MUCH PREFER PIES. I like baked goods and pastries with fillings in them that burst out “saucy goodness” when you bite into it.

Thankfully the pineapple and heavy glaze on it afford some of that virtue here, while the Mac Nuts definitely round out the exotic “Hawaiian” flavor — which while it may sound cheesy — I think really does put the “Hawaiian” in this Happy Cake.

On to sampling the Chocolate Macadamia Nut Fudge Brownie Happy Cake, it’s pretty much as advertised, being a hybrid all-in-one fudge brownie-meets-cake. The melted chocolate fudge after being “blasted” in the toaster oven definitely helped, as I tried eating it at room temperature later (about 80º during early morning) and it wasn’t nearly as good. HEAT THEM UP. WAY BETTER!

And like a good brownie MUST HAVE — which happens to a fave of mine of any type of chocolate pastry — Happy Cakes’ Chocolate Macadamia Nut Fudge Brownie Cake is LOADED with chopped nuts. That virtue alone earns both these cakes 1 full SPAM Musubi point!

Again, like cake, I’m also not a big chocolate fan (too much testosterone I guess), so my opinion is sort of biased already. Still, it’s darned good, and you can definitely taste the quality of the ingredients and “love” that went into making both of these hand-made cakes.

As for enjoying them with ice cream AND coffee, TOTALLY ROCKIN’ IT! Where the cakes themselves lack the moisture I personally crave, those two accompaniments obviously are highly qualified to help accomplish the job. Does Hawaiian Happy Cakes NEED coffee or ice cream in order to be at their best? I think so, but that’s just me.

As for the Hawaiian Happy Cakes branded 100% Kona Coffee, I’ll do a separate  review of that, as I want to compare it with some other coffees to make it even more interesting.

Summing it up, I give Hawaiian Happy Cakes 3 SPAM Musubi (very good). If I were a hardcore cake fan, I’d probably give it a 4. Even though it’s not as moist as I’d prefer it to be, I respect that it’s not that way because it’s a fruit cake recipe to begin with, which isn’t exactly the king of that realm.

Overall, the heirloom recipe, quality ingredients, including an abundance of macadamia nuts, pineapple and rich chocolate fudge, and hand-made “love” that go into baking each one, all round out to an exotic cake that would make anyone — well — happy!

What? Hawaiian Happy Cakes
Where can I buy it and how much does it cost? Available online at HappyCake.com, in person direct from the manufacturer on Oahu (tel. 808-922-1957, 808-391-7096 or toll-free 1-800-735-CAKE), and every Saturday at the KCC Farmers Market (at the foot of Diamond Head); price TBA $$
Big Shaka to: Abundant amount of chopped Macadamia Nuts, Pineapple and rich Chocolate fudge; both SCREAM in FLAVOR what their name implies; tastes like a quality product; heated in a toaster oven, and served with coffee and/or ice cream does WONDERS for it; hand-made in Hawaii since 1967
No Shaka to: On the dry side (especially at room temperature); pricey, especially if purchased online; Pomai’s biased opinion against cakes (he’s a PIE LOVER!)
The Tasty Island rating: 3 SPAM Musubi (very good)


Owen O’Callaghan of Hawaiian Happy Cakes with Pomai Souza of The Tasty Island at KCC Farmers Market ~ 12.19.15

10 thoughts on “Hawaiian Happy Cakes

  • December 19, 2015 at 9:34 am
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    Wow, after not hearing it for a while now, I was just listening to Van Halen’s “Pouncake” tune that I embedded at the end of this post, as you know I always add my favorite music as hosted on YouTube to each post. And I haven’t really listened to this song carefully before, even as long as it’s been out.

    When Van Halen fans often ask Eddie if he’ll ever do a virtuoso instrumental solo guitar album (myself included), Eddie’s response is always, “All our albums are my guitar solo albums. They just happen to have vocals layered over it.” Not exactly to that quote, but to the tune of that. And man, is it true. If you listen to the licks he lays down not just for the solo, but as always Eddie style, toward the ending of “Poundcake”, its absolute simplicity, while hitting just the right notes at the right time is pure GENIUS!

    In my opinion, David Gilmour is still THE ROCK GUITAR GOD living today (the man can play AND sing AND write rock music AMAZINGLY), however I’d put Eddie Van Halen and Joe Satriani a close second, with certain songs right there at the very top of rock guitar “God” genre.

    Which this actually relates to Owen of Happy Cakes, being I threw him an analogy regarding how crowded it was at a recent KCC Farmers Market event, saying it was “like going to a Black Sabbath Ozzy Reunion Rock Concert.” To which we both immediately hit it off, being we’re both the same age, and grew up listening to the same “British Steel” likes of them, Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, as well as all the other big rock bands of the 70s and 80s.

    Just thought I’d share these “little” side notes outside of the main review post. Rock on! lol

    Reply
  • December 19, 2015 at 1:42 pm
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    Pomai,

    I used to give out over $100 in Happy Cakes every Christmas to my mainland friends and family back when Owen was working out of the back of Keemo Farms making the 2 lb. Happy Cakes in the round flat tin cake pans in fitted boxes. Then he moved to downtown and switch to the 1 lb. cakes and it lost special meaning to mainland friends and family. Sometimes switching marketing to save money can work against the product.

    Reply
    • December 19, 2015 at 11:39 pm
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      Ken,

      That said about packaging, God-forbid Holy’s Bakery (Big Island of Hawaii) change ANYTHING about what they’re doing with their frozen pies. It’s SUPERIOR just the way it is, “savage” bakery box and all… it BAKES PERFECT EVERY TIME!

      Reply
      • December 20, 2015 at 12:41 pm
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        Pomai,
         
        If this is the first time you are tasting a Happy Cake then you have to go back in Hawaiian History to get the full picture.
         
        According to WikipediA: “The Happy Cake was invented at Kemo’o Farms Restaurant in Wahiawa, Hawaii in 1967 by Dick Rodby, owner of the restaurant famous for live Hawaiian music. The restaurant was also featured as ‘Choys’ tavern in the Frank Sinatra film, From Here to Eternity.
         
        Surrounded by pineapple fields, Rodby was inspired to create his own version of a Hawaiian Fruit Cake and named it the Happy Cake registering the trademark ‘Happy Cake’ in September 1969. Cakes were ordered from all over the country as a gifts and were popular in Hawaiian themed parties.
         
        The Happy Cake is a dense cake, made from local pineapple, macadamia nuts, and coconut.
         

        Over the years customers have included presidents and Hollywood elite.
        Rodby opened a sister restaurant in California in 1982 to also promote and sell the Hawaiian Happy Cake.
        Baked in Honolulu, the Happy Cake still remains popular with local Hawaiians.”

         
        A lot of Hawaiian history has been dropped with the new repackaging and streamlining of the original Happy Cake recipe mainly the size of the cake and disappearance of the grated coconut which has greatly reduced the overall taste and impact of the Happy Cake especially on those of us who gave away the original Happy Cakes as annual mainland gifts. Mainland friends and relatives are not happy with the current product.
         
        The original Happy Cake was cooked in a ‘sponge cake pan’ and was 2 pounds in weight whereas the current Happy Cake is baked in a mini cardboard loaf pan and is 8 oz. in weight.

        Reply
        • December 20, 2015 at 12:52 pm
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          Ken,

          Well, that’s a conjecture for Owen to answer.

          I must say, though: grated coconut would be a nice “third dimension” touch for the Pineapple Macadamia Nut Cake!

          Reply
          • December 20, 2015 at 1:20 pm
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            Pomai,
             
            Before these get bought up by non-isle people and changed, taste before they go by the wayside like Happy Cake.
             
            The next time you are in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii just outside of the airport on the way towards town at 74-5035 Queen Ka’ahumanu Hwy, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 is: http://macpie.com/
             
            After you drive through Kailua-Kona stay of Hwy 11 to Kealakekua and at 81-6592 Mamalahoa Hwy. Kealakekua, HI you will find Kona Gold Rum Co. which makes Kona Gold Macadamia Nut Rum Cakes: http://www.konagoldrum.com/index.html
             

    • December 28, 2015 at 10:29 am
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      Aloha Ken,

      Working out of the back of Kemoo Farms….haha….those were the days.   Thank you for the nice memory!

      Many of our long term customers have shared your feelings on the round 2 lb Happy Cake which came in the gold tin and red hibiscus box.  They really miss it and ask about it.

      Our concern was the price point on the big cake due to rising costs.  It would have to retail for $35-40 a cake.

      Occasionally we made a few on special request although we do not have a stock of cans or red boxes anymore.   Please let us know if you might ever want us to bake you a few and we can try to help.

      Perhaps we should consider doing a special run at Thanksgiving or some other special occasion.

      Thanks again and all the best,

      Owen

       

       

      Reply
      • December 29, 2015 at 6:26 pm
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        @ Owen; Aloha,
         
        Yes back of Kemoo Farms were the days!
         
        Hawaii; Happy Cake; one of a kind Hawaii food creation, nowhere else in the world can you get an original Hawaiian Happy Cake loved by World Dignitaries, Hollywood Stars, Food lovers and Presidents of the United States!
         
        Would I spend $35-$40 for a one of a kind in the world 2 lb. cake packaged in an antique gold round tin nestled in a red hibiscus box for a Christmas present? At Christmas I hand out multiple $200 of one of a kind North Shore Hawaiian grown chocolate as stocking stuffers and I hope that answers your question!!
         
        Hawaii Macpie is asking $32 for an 8 inch and $48 for a 12 inch pie and  Kona Gold is asking $8.95 for 8oz Rum Fruit Cake and $24.95 for a 24 oz. Rum Fruit Cake so the market is already there for a $35-$40 32oz. Happy Cake!
         
        What you really need to do is put out a flyer listing special holidays (Hawaii Film Festival, Hawaii International Film Festival, Hawaii Food Festival, President’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas) when the original Happy Cake in original form will be available in original packaging and let us customers pre-order the amounts we want to give as gifts with non-refundable down payments (which would cover the cost of stocking the extra angel cake baking pans, extra gold tins, extra hibiscus boxes and extra ingredients. Reoccurring annual orders could qualify for discounts as we already paid for the extras needed to complete orders.
         
        Aloha, Ken
         

        Reply
  • December 19, 2015 at 2:25 pm
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    I not much into fruitcakes.  This pineapple nut cake is the kind I go for.

    My family love eat cakes with wiskey or rum in it during the holidays.

    When my brother was little ate too much of a rum cake and got drunk

    from it.

    Reply
  • December 19, 2015 at 3:12 pm
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    Now my cousins in San Francisco want some from Hawaii for it so

    special.  I make sure to send it right away to them.   They want to

    share with co workers.

    Reply

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