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Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso
Mahalo New York Bakery's tropical cupcake selection includes (from top) toasted coconut, pineapple guava, mango-mango and hibiscus pua.

As the days grow shorter and winter approaches, Mahalo New York Bakery, located at 66-40 Myrtle Ave. in Glendale, provides a much-needed dose of warmth and sunshine on blustery fall days.

In the short six months since the bakery first opened, Mahalo New York has gained quite a loyal local following. From the moment they enter the pistachio and pink colored shop, visitors are greeted with a smile and a cheery “aloha” from owner Sunita Shiwdin, who was inspired to open the tropical-themed bakery after honeymooning in Hawaii last year.

“In Kauai, no one passes you without saying ‘aloha.’ Everyone there calls each other cousin, instead of miss and sir,” Shiwdin explained. “It made me want to bring a little bit of that aloha spirit back to New York City.”

Shiwdin first arrived in New York more than two decades ago as a child from Guyana. Her family settled in Queens, where she attended Richmond Hill High School and went on to graduate from Queens College. It was during her time as a high school history teacher that Shiwdin first realized her desire to turn her lifelong passion for baking into a full-time business.

Shiwdin credits her family’s move to New York with instilling in her the desire to dream big, as well as the courage and confidence to pursue those dreams. “Over here, girls are given this equal opportunity,” she added. “If you work hard at anything, I feel you can achieve it over here.”

Mahalo New York Bakery’s owner and founder Sunita Shiwdin with her sweet creations

Shiwdin honors her family’s culture and heritage by incorporating the natural tastes and flavors from her childhood in Guyana, as well her love of Hawaii, into her large selection of cupcakes and desserts at Mahalo. Her popular mango-mango cupcake infused with mango puree and topped with mango cream cheese frosting was inspired by Shiwdin’s fond memories of afternoons spent climbing the mango trees in her backyard with her brother.

The succulent and sweet hibiscus pua cupcake was inspired by Hawaii’s national flower, as well as her mother’s garden back in Guyana. “My mom loved flowers, and I think her obsession with flowers kind of trickled on to me,” Shiwdin joked. “I grew up seeing these tiny little hummingbirds jumping from flower to flower.”

Shiwdin’s Guyanese and Hawaiian influences can also be tasted in the pineapple guava cupcake infused with guava jam and topped with cream cheese frosting and chunks of pineapple jam. Her mango passionfruit whipped cheesecake pairs the tropical fruit atop a bed of cinnamon and spiced graham crumb with fresh mango and kiwi garnish.

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The mango passionfruit whipped cheesecake at Mahalo

Baking is a family affair at Mahalo. Shiwdin’s husband Michael created the special Hawaiian sweet bread with a pineapple and ginger twist, and is currently crafting a Hawaiian doughnut. The aromatic rice pudding spiked with cloves, cinnamon and sugar is made from Shiwdin’s mother’s traditional Guyanese family recipe.

Seasonal desserts include traditional apple, blueberry and coconut cream pies, as well as the “ono” (delicious) pumpkin whipped cheesecake and pumpkin chai cupcakes. Mahalo also crafts specialty cakes with impressive fondant designs for weddings, showers and special occasions.

While advanced orders are encouraged, the bakery will also be open on Thanksgiving until 3 p.m. for any last-minute dessert needs.

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