Culinary fun from the Ka‘u Coffee Fest’s recipe contest

  • Savory Ka‘u Coffee Chili Cheese Enchiladas took first place in the adult entrée category at the 2017 recipe contest. Deadline to enter this year's contest is April 20. (Ka'u Coffee Festival/Courtesy Photo)
  • Perfectly Perked Pahala Pork Tenderloin was a past favorite at the Ka'u Coffee Festival Recipe Contest. (Ka'u Coffee Festival/Courtesy Photo)

Calling all home cooks, budding bakers and chef wannabees for a chance to win cash at the annual Ka‘u Coffee Festival Recipe Contest at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 28, at the Ka‘u Coffee Mill. The contest is part of the action-packed 11th annual Ka‘u Coffee Festival that runs April 26-May 5.

Adults and students can vie in pupu, entrée and dessert categories with the top three entries in each category winning cash. There is no fee to enter and all submitted original recipes must contain Ka‘u coffee. Entry deadline is April 20 and easy contest rules and entry forms can be downloaded at


The recipe contest is free to the public and attendees can sample delicious Ka‘u coffee and recipe entries, plus enjoy entertainment and meet the newly crowned Miss Ka‘u Coffee. Last year’s festival-goers tasted a wide assortment of creative recipes using Ka‘u coffee, including Festive Kalua Enchilada Dip, Ka‘u Coffee-Flavored Wontons, Ka‘u Java Chili Mac, Huli BBQ Chicken in Paradise, Ka‘u Coffee Cream Puffs and Ka‘u Coffee Tropical Temptations.

Practice makes perfect. Try whipping up some of last year’s winning recipes shown here. Good luck and visit for the full lineup of festival activities.

Ka‘u Java Chili Mac

By Austin Kilkenny, Third place adult entrée

2 lbs. ground beef

1 onion, diced

Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

1-15.5 oz can chili beans undrained

1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes

1-8 oz. can tomato sauce

1-1.25 oz. packet chili seasoning

1 jar mild salsa verde

2 t. garlic powder

1 t. cumin

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup milk

2 cups small macaroni noodles, uncooked

2 cups cheddar cheese

Brown ground beef in a large dutch oven and season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Drain. Add remaining ingredients except half of the cheese (reserve one cup). Stir well, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook covered for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and let chili rest while covered for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and noodles are tender. Top with remaining cheese and serve.

Ka‘u Coffee Irish Cream Cookies

By Tiana Villanueva, First place adult dessert


1 cup butter, softened

1 ¼ cup sugar

2 eggs

2 T. ground Ka‘u coffee

1 1/4 t. vanilla

1 t. Irish Cream Liqueur

2 cups flour

½ t. baking powder

¼ t. salt

Your choice of cookie cutters


½ cup unsalted sweet cream butter, softened

1 ½ cup powdered sugar

1 t. vanilla

1 t. Irish Cream Liqueur

3 T. heavy whipping cream

Optional: Roasted coffee beans, chocolate covered bean or chocolate drizzle

Cookies: Preheat oven 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. In another bowl combine eggs, vanilla, Irish cream and coffee grounds. Gradually add this coffee mixture to the butter and sugar until combined. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add into the wet mixture until combined. If the dough is still wet and soft, add another ¼ cup of flour. Lightly flour a cutting board and place dough onto board. Sprinkle more flour atop the dough and knead until all combined. Lightly flour cutting board again and roll out dough to ¼ inch thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on cookie sheet. Bake until edges become slightly golden: 8-10 mins.

Frosting: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whip until fluffy, stiff peaks form. Place into a piping bag or make one using a Ziploc bag. Pipe frosting atop each cookie and garnish with a coffee bean of your choice or chocolate drizzle.

Ka‘u Coffee Tropical Temptations

By Peggy Kilkenny, Third place adult dessert

¾ cup butter, softened

1-8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

2 cups sugar

1 T. finely ground Ka‘u coffee

2 eggs

3 cups flour

½ t. baking powder

½ t. baking soda

½ t. salt

1 ½ cups mashed bananas (4 medium)

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

½ t. vanilla extract

24 lined paper muffin cups


Choice of your favorite frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and cream cheese using electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar and coffee, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until just blended after each addition. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended. Stir in bananas, pecans and vanilla. Place muffin cups into muffin pans and spoon ¾ full. Bake for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick comes clean when inserted into center. Cool in muffin pans 10 mins. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack. Frost as desired.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email