Recently, my sweet friend Alana Kysar invited John and I over to celebrate the release of her book, Aloha Kitchen. But whereas one might expect an event such as this to be held at some public venue in a media-friendly environment focused solely on promotion, Alana decided to do something totally different. She invited us into her own home alongside several close friends, each of whom had brought a home-cooked meal from her book to share with everyone. It was an authentic Hawaiian potluck, an expression of one of Alana’s most deeply-held values—establishing genuine connection with others in the spirit of aloha, the coordination of mind and heart that loves unconditionally without expectation of return.
While I made something savory for the potluck, I wanted to dive into Aloha Kitchen’s sweets for this post. Alana describes her guava cake as light as air and not too sweet, which is exactly what I like. It refreshingly combines the powerful flavors of fruit alongside the fluffy texture of cake for something truly special. It’s simple and straightforward, but amazing precisely because of this—it aims for one thing, a guava-heavy treat as light as a cloud, and completely succeeds.
Aloha Kitchen is filled to the brim with creations like these—85 recipes from the heart, imbued with a mark of Hawaiian distinction that makes each of them feel intimate and familial. I highly recommend you pick up a copy and enjoy Alana’s consistent display of surprisingly unique yet totally accessible dishes. You’re sure to love them all!
For the Cake
2 ½ cups cake flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 ¼ cups sugar
6 large egg whites
¼ cup neutral oil
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup guava puree
3 squeezes of red gel food coloring
For the Frosting
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
½ cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
2 squeezes of red gel food coloring
½ cup guava puree
Makes 24 pieces
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with parchment, leaving some overhang on the long sides. In a bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, and kosher salt, whisking until combined. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until well combined, about 3 minutes. Add the egg whites, in three additions, beating each addition until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the oil and mix until combined, about 1 minute more. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla, guava puree, and food coloring (if using). On low speed, alternate between adding the wet and dry ingredients, mixing each until combined before adding the next addition.
Pour the mixture into the parchment-lined pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until frothy. Gradually increase the speed to high and whip until it's light and fluffy with stiff peaks, another 2 to 3 minutes. Don't over whip! Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl. Replace the bowl on the stand mixer and fit the machine with the paddle attachment; there's no need to clean the bowl. Place the cream cheese in the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth. Add the sugar and kosher salt and increase the speed to high. Beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the food coloring, if desired. Gradually pour in the guava puree in four additions, making sure the puree is fully incorporated after every addition. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula after the second and the final addition. Increase the speed to high and beat until smooth and well incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the stand and, using the spatula, fold in the whipped cream in three additions, incorporating completely after each addition.
Spread the frosting on the cooled cake, using an offset spatula to smooth it over the edges. and chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Cut into twenty-four pieces and serve immediately.