Hawaiian chef makes holiday desserts for Hanukkah, Christmas

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- Owner of Pono Burger and native Hawaiian chef Makani uses all kinds of cultures and religions to make her holiday table bright.

"I didn't grow up with a lot of Jewish friends being on the big island, but it's fun being in Los Angeles being influenced by all these beautiful cultures that come together," said Makani.

Christmas elves and a blue and white menorah decorate her table, then it's on to the sweet stuff like her pot de creme.

"The pot de creme is actually a very classic French dessert. It's the base of everything wonderful," said Makani.

She starts with real vanilla bean.

"A good vanilla bean is when they're moist like this. You slice them open and take the seeds out and then you pour your cream in and all that wonderful vanilla is going to infuse," said Makani.

Then, she blends sugar, eggs and traditional ingredients that after cooking in a water bath, gets topped with maple cream and salted caramel syrup.

"Everyone would be a lot happier if they had a little bit of this in their life," said Makani.

To go along with the smooth, creamy concoction, she adds something crunchy.

"Today, we're doing a Star of David short bread cookie. Everything is kosher and it's being baked in a certified organic kitchen," said Makani.

Along with shortbread, there's gingersnaps.

"We do them in every shape imaginable. In lieu of the holiday, we're doing snowflakes," said Makani.

The beauty of all of these desserts? Chef Makani said they're actually better if you make them the day before.

"They're actually better the next day because the dough has time to set and you set it out to room temperature. Roll it out, cut them and it takes you 15-20 minutes to bake them before your guests arrive," said Makani.

Star of David Shortbread Cookies

1.5 pounds butter
2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 cup AP flour (sifted)
1 teaspoon salt (sifted)

Cream the room temperature butter, vanilla extract and sugar in a standard mixer for 3-4 minutes.
Sift together the salt and flour
Add the salt and flour mixture to the mixer on low speed until fully incorporated
Roll out the dough into sheets and cut with a cookie cutter
Place cookies on a parchment paper lined sheet pan
Sprinkle with raw sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown

Ginger Snap Cookies

1 1/2 pounds lightly salted butter
2 pounds granulated sugar
4 each large eggs
2 3/4 pounds AP, flour
8 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly minced ginger
4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoon ground clove
11 ounces molasses

1. Cream the sugar in a mixing bowl with the room temperature butter until smooth using a stand mixer. While the butter and sugar are creaming together, you can get the next steps ready.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and clove. Sifting each ingredient will help to ensure proper distribution and prevent lumps in the cookies.

3. Going back to the stand mixer with the butter and sugar: add one egg at a time while beating on high speed to incorporate. Once all eggs have been added to your butter and sugar mixture, slowly add the molasses and fresh minced ginger on medium-low speed to incorporate.

4. Add the remaining "sifted" dry ingredients slowly to prevent lumps in the dough. Once everything is completely incorporated, scoop out the dough onto plastic wrap in 1 pound increments. Wrap them tightly and refrigerate until the dough is firm.

5. Bring dough out of the refrigerator for 5 minutes before rolling out to allow the butter in the dough to soften. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch sheets and cut your cookies into desired shape. Place onto a parchment paper covered sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for around 6 to 8 minutes. Allow cookies to cool at room temperature. Once finished the cookies should have a nice "snap" as you bite into them with a lovely fresh ginger taste.

Butterscotch Pot de Creme:

4 ounces lightly salted butter
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 fresh vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
9 egg yolks

1. In a medium size sauce pot melt the 4 ounces of butter over medium low heat ensuring not to burn. Once the butter has melted, add the brown sugar and whisk to incorporate. Allow the sugar and butter to melt together. Keep whisking until you notice the sugar taking on a slightly darker caramel color. Once the sugar has changed into a caramel color, add the heavy cream. The cream will seize the sugar and turn it into hard candy stands -- this is OK. Continue to stir over medium heat and add the scrapped vanilla bean seeds and whisk until the sugar melts back down into the cream.

2. Optional: pass the sugar and cream mixture through a sieve to prevent any unwanted lumps.

3. In a mixing bowl, beat your egg yolks until fully incorporated and smooth. Slowly temper the egg yolks by pouring the hot cream and sugar mixture into them while whisking. Once you have tempered the eggs, pour the remaining hot cream and sugar into the mixture while continuing to whisk.

4. Strain this mixture once more through a sieve to prevent lumps. Place the mixture into 8 ounce vessels and place into a baking dish with a water bath filling it just over half way on the dishes that you are serving the custard in.

5. Tent the baking dish with foil and pierce the foil with a knife in several areas to release excess steam. Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 45 minutes and turn the pan 180 degrees, then bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the pot de creme from the oven and allow to cool in the refrigerator.

6. Finish with fresh whipped cream and enjoy!

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