A Little Aloha In Every Crispy Bite

Hula Baby owner and baker Shane Morris Wise. Daniel Lane photos

Hula Baby’s line of premium biscotti rolled out in April of this year, and six months later they can be found in 14 stores islandwide. Their popularity is thanks to the bright and harmonic flavor combinations owner and baker Shane Morris Wise spent two years developing. One bite and you’ll be doing the hula, baby!

Packing his cookie dough full of chunky nuts and clean, natural flavors, Wise created a line of six unique biscotti, which weave the spirit of aloha with the flavors of paradise. Refreshing mint, zesty lime or robust rosemary are expertly blended with organic butter, macadamia nuts and tangy pineapple.

Wise is a former pipe organ restorer and music conductor, and when he isn’t baking, he’s making music. Currently, he is the music director at the Hawaii Children’s Theatre for the Willy Wonka musical opening Nov. 18.

“One of the great things about being creative is having my mind in diverse areas,” explains Wise, who received two master’s degrees in music at the University of Denver. “What I get from music, I’m able to put into the biscotti. And what I get from creating biscotti, I’m able to put into music.”

Biscotti is the Italian word for twice-baked. These cookies are shaped into logs, baked, sliced and baked again. Traditionally, biscotti are very hard, dry and require a good dunk in coffee to soften them up.

Hula Baby Biscotti are loaded with chunks of flavor

With a taste and texture similar to shortbread, each bite of Hula Baby biscotti easily breaks off. “I wanted to do a butter-type product because they are crunchier and have more flavor,” says Wise.

Open a bag of Nuts For Rosemary and notes of butter and fresh rosemary rise to your nose. Take a bite and experience a concert of flavor: crunchy pecans and macadamia nuts, the clean soprano of rosemary and a rich buttery baritone. These are my favorite.

Wise created Island Lemon Macadamia first, so this is his cherished choice. There is freshly grated zest, so when I take a bite I expect a lively lemon flavor. The cookie is mild, but that must be because they were just baked and are still warm from the oven.

“These will last for six months, and they taste better with age,” says Wise. “The oils from the lemon zest permeate the product, so they get better after two or three months.”

The Chococomac is loaded with organic cacao powder, organic shredded coconut flakes, macadamia nuts from the Big Island and chocolate chips. The banana lover will wrap around the Cococanana like a spider monkey. The biscotti are flavored with organic apple bananas, coconut and chunky pecans.

Siri Shabad and Wise package freshly made biscotti

The popular Pineapple Lime Lavender is studded with chunks of sweet pineapple, fresh lime zest and lavender grown exclusively for Hula Baby by a farm in Kilauea. These flavors could easily turn into a cacophony, but Wise has composed a symphony of flavors orchestrated to perfection.

“He’s brilliant. He creates beauty,” says Siri Shabad, Wise’s apprentice baker who also is a hula dancer. “We were talking about how the cookies are like music when you eat them. We want people to feel like they do when they listen to a piece of music. Like ‘Ohhhh, this brings back memories,’ and you want to share with other people.”

Flecked with bits of fresh peppermint and layered with rich buttery goodness, the Island Butter Mint evokes summer love. “You know when you go to weddings and they have those mints?” asks Shabad, who is particularly fond of this flavor. “These taste just like those little mints!” And it’s true; Morris captured the essence of those tiny yellow buttermints and put it in his biscotti.

The pretty packaging also keeps the cookies fresh. Daniel Lane photos

“The product is very much about aloha,” says Wise, who commissioned local artist Melinda Morey to paint his logo. “I wanted the image to convey that, because Hawai’i’s gift to the world is aloha.”

The foundation of Hula Baby embraces community. Wise wants his business to support the local economy and provide jobs. This includes buying local products whenever possible, using citrus in season and working closely with local farmers.

“It was really about supporting the local economy and supporting local people,” he says. “I want a business that’s good for others as well as myself. I put a lot of love into my product. I put my heart into this product, and I’m very proud of this product.”

Hula Baby Biscotti can be found at Robin Savage Gift and Gourmet, Hanalei; Princeville Wine Market; North Shore General Store, Princeville; Kilauea Town Market; Banana Joe’s, Kilauea; Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, Kilauea; Kojima Store, Kapa’a; Spa by the Sea, Waipouli; The Wine Garden, Puhi; Sweet Pia’s, Lihu’e; Vim and Vigor Lihu’e; Living Foods Market, Po’ipu; Koa Kea Resort, Po’ipu; The Wine Shop, Koloa.

Hula Baby Biscotti 212-5916, hulababybiscotti@gmail.com

Look out for new flavors on the Hula Baby Facebook page.