Thursday, July 31, 2014

New desserts debut at Top of Waikiki

Nadine Kam photos
The Top of Waikiki hosted a media event to introduce new desserts by Heather Bryan. She is showing her pineapple rum cake embellished with fresh fruit.

Top of Waikiki has unveiled five irresistible new additions to a dessert menu redesigned by pastry sous chef Heather Bryan, who recently joined executive chef Lance Kosaka’s culinary team.

After a stint at the progressive Vintage Cave, the new menu has marked a return to basics for Bryan, who nevertheless puts her own creative spin on desserts that include such new best sellers as:

» Apple Pie, a deconstructed original take on the American classic, with fresh Granny Smith and Fuji apples baked in an apple spice reduction, served warm, topped with brown butter crumble and vanilla gelato.

» Toasted Hazelnut Gelato Pie, starring hazelnut gelato layered atop chocolate mousse on a chocolate chip cookie crust, crowned with Frangelico whipped cream, bacon brittle and toasted hazelnuts.

» Chocolate Cremeux Semifreddo, a rich, silky smooth cocoa semifreddo layered with milk chocolate cremeux and solid dark chocolate, and finished with Hawaiian sea salt caramel.

This toasted hazelnut gelato pie was my favorite. It starts with Il Gelato’s ice cream, layered with chocolate mousse and Frangelico whipped cream, on a chocolate chip cookie crust. Finishing touches are bacon brittle and toasted hazelnuts.

“I wanted to take a creative approach to these classic desserts,” Bryan said. “For example, in the Apple Pie, fresh Fuji apples—which are my favorite—add a second dimension of soft texture to firm Granny Smiths.

“Also, crust can diminish in most traditionally baked pies; baking the crust separately lets the flavors and textures stand out.”

Heather Bryan’s take on apple pie.

The change of pace has also been an adjustment for Bryan, who, in the exclusive and intimate Vintage Cave was preparing desserts for 30 people, instead of 300, which has meant picking her battles and areas of focus.

Although she says she misses making her own ice cream, during a tasting Wednesday we were just as happy with Il Gelato’s hazelnut and vanilla bean ice creams that go into her confections.

Other new treats include a rich but refreshing citrus-flavored Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake, in which mascarpone lifts the rich cream cheese texture to new heights, and a reimagined Hawaiian classic, Pineapple Rum Cake.

Chocolate lovers may side with the chocolate cremeux semifreddo, finished with Hawaiian sea salt caramel.

Rounding out the dessert lineup are three continuing favorites from Kosaka’s original menu: Mango Crème Brulee, Hawaiian Macadamia Nut & Chocolate Tart and Chocolate Brownie. All desserts are priced at $9.

For more information and to view the full dessert, dinner and happy hour menus, visit or call (808) 923-3877 to make reservations. Top of Waikiki is at 2270 Kalakaua Ave. Take the elevator to the 18th floor and catch two escalators to the top of the building in what is Honolulu's only remaining revolving restaurant. Free validated parking is available at the Waikiki Business Plaza.

Light lemon-mascarpone cheesecake topped with mixed berry sauce.

Pineapple rum cake with caramelized pineapples, rum cream and fresh fruit. 

Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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