Cakes, Cookies And Tarts, Oh My!

Kristin and Aaron Leikam. Daniel Lane photos

Most people know that Chef Aaron Leikam specializes in pasture-to-plate cooking at 22 North, a restaurant that showcases local ingredients from its on-site farm at Kilohana Plantation. What most people don’t know is that his wife Kristin is a chef in her own right.

Honolulu Magazine‘s August issue recognizes four of their favorite Hawaiian-made molten chocolate cakes, and Leikam’s Ooey-Gooey Chocolate Cake is one of them. It’s on the menu at 22 North, where she was the pastry chef before launching Cakes by Kristin last month.

Liekam’s passion is to create custom cakes that are memorable, and not just because they look beautiful.

“A lot of wedding cakes aren’t the most tasty thing you remember,” she says. “Maybe you don’t remember them at all, other than it was visually stunning.”

If you crave something upscale but homey, try her banana cake layered with cream cheese icing and frosted with vanilla buttercream. It’s more than gorgeous it’s moist and flavorful from local bananas, but not too sweet or heavy.

Chocolate cake with Kahlua syrup, chocolate mousse and chocolate buttercream

“I try to make it memorable to your palate,” she says. “We came up with ‘sophisticatedly yummy’ because that was very important in portraying who we are.”

Chocolate fanatics will appreciate her decadent chocolate cake. Dark layers of moist chocolate cake are soaked in coffee-flavored Kahlua syrup. Thick layers of airy chocolate mousse alternate with creamy chocolate buttercream. Then, the whole cake is wrapped in chocolate buttercream!

“I do it Italian style,” she says. “I soak the cakes with a vanilla bean-infused syrup which I add a variety of flavors to. One of my most popular cakes is an unbelievably moist, buttermilk-based vanilla cake. I soak it with a vanilla bean, Grand Marnier syrup, and then I layer it with lilikoi cream and vanilla buttercream.”

Stop by for fresh-baked cupcakes

If you like delicate flavors, Liekam makes a vanilla cake that is laced with rum syrup. She layers it with a rich coconut cream before icing it with the ever-present buttercream, in vanilla.

“My preference is to use buttercream because it tastes so much better,” she explains. “I make a Swiss buttercream, so it’s really light, it’s creamy and it holds up great in this heat.”

Liekam’s first choice is to use quality local ingredients. She even has a woman who brings her fresh eggs. “Everything is very natural, 100 percent good, real baking,” she says. “I don’t use hydrogenated oils or artificial sweeteners.”

The bakery has limited outside seating and offers more than custom cakes.

Kristin Leikam cuts the cake for hungry onlookers. Daniel Lane photos

Cakes by Kristin uses environmentally friendly takeout containers

Every day, Liekam offers slices of cake and just-baked cookies, muffins, cupcakes and seasonal fruit tarts.

Coffee is made to order using freshly ground beans from Kaua’i, Kona and Maui, and includes the bakery’s own blend. Non-coffee drinkers can relish in the soothing scents of freshly brewed tea with their pastries.

Liekam couldn’t be happier with her new home located in Kinipopo Shopping Village.

“This is a great location, there’s tons of walk-in traffic,” she says. “Monaco’s is just bustling, there’s an art gallery next door, and they’re starting construction on a bike path off Papaloa Road. There’s so many people walking around day and night, it’s incredible. I love this space!”

Banana cake with cream cheese icing

In the end, it’s all about the cake.

“I want to make a beautiful, great piece to be part of someone’s huge celebration,” Liekam says. “It should taste awesome, and it should be beautiful. People should remember it!”

Cakes by Kristin 4-356 Kuhio Hwy., Kapa’a
Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.