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Kukui Nut Candy Lei

It’s that graduation time of year. So many celebrations…preschool, kindergarten, middle school, high school, college.

Giving a lei is the quintessential Hawaiian way to celebrate any and all occasions. It’s a custom I’ve seen become more and more popular outside of Hawaii over the years.

At graduation time in Hawaii, it’s so nice to be greeted by family and friends, and sometimes end up with 20 or more leis around your neck. The commotion, the heady fragrance of flowers, and walking around under the weight of lei (those double carnation ones are the heaviest) while peering over the top of your stack of lei, are memories a lot of graduates and folks in Hawaii share.

Courtesy of Lori Ikeda of's website!

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Prep Time: 30 | Cook Time: | Ready In: 30
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US Metric

Child Lei:

  • 16 Lindt Lindor Chocolate Truffles (Black, Brown, or Gold)
  • 17 pieces of curling ribbon (8"-9" long)
  • Long strip of clear cellophane wrap, 48" long x 5" wide
  • 18" piece of grosgrain ribbon (matching black, brown, or cream)
  • Clear adhesive tape

Adult Lei:

  • 20 Lindt Lindor Chocolate Truffles (Black, Brown, or Gold)
  • 21 pieces of curling ribbon (8"-9" long)
  • Long strip of clear cellophane wrap, 56" long x 5" wide
  • 18" piece of grosgrain ribbon (matching black, brown, or cream)
  • Clear adhesive tape
  • Additional curling ribbons and 12" pieces of (3/16") satin ribbons for bows, if desired

Cooking Process:


Prepare the truffles by pressing the wrapper ends down towards each other over the candy. Use a small piece of clear adhesive tape (scotch tape) to tape the two ends together. Make sure to do this over the seam side of the candy, or to cover up the UPC code (if there is one).

Lay the long strip of clear cellophane horizontally across the table.

At the left end, fold down the top one third of the cellophane, then fold up the bottom third. Pinching together the wrap 1-1/2" from the left end, take one piece of curling ribbon and tie where you are pinching with a knot.

Place one truffle, taped ends up, into the opening about 1-1/2" from the tied knot. (We are making the lei bottom side up to begin with.) Use a finger to gently push the truffle in as close to the knot as possible. Make sure the top cellophane edge is folded down first,over the truffle, then the bottom edge is folded up. Squeeze the cellophane gently, but tightly around the end of the truffle and tie with a piece of curling ribbon. Just tie once — after all the candies have been placed, we’ll turn it over to the front side and tie it another time.

Repeat this process with the remaining truffles and ribbons. Sometimes if pushing the truffle with a finger isn’t working well, you can pick up and hold the empty cellophane part with one hand and use the other hand to gently “squeeze” the candy up towards the knot. Try to get the truffles as closely together as possible, but don’t get it too tight, or the cellophane wrap will start to tear with too much maneuvering. **If the cellophane wrap tears at any time, be sure to use clear adhesive tape to repair it, or your lei may rip later. Even if it means you need to untie a ribbon, it’s important to repair any tears. The tear and the repair won’t be visible if you use clear tape.

After the last truffle has been placed, tie the end off with a knot. Trim off the excess cellophane wrap, leaving about 1-1/2" at the end.

Turn the lei over to the front side. Gently twist any truffles that need re-positioning so that the nice side is facing up. Re-tie all the ribbons snugly on this side now.  A full knot isn't necessary unless the ribbon seems very loose. If desired additional ribbon curls may be tied on. If you plan to tie on satin bows, wait until the lei is joined together first so the bows can be tied in the right direction.

Handling the truffles gently, curl all the pieces of ribbon, except for the ones at each end.

Bring the two ends of the lei up, one end overlapping the other at the ribbon knots. Tie together twice– once with the ribbons from each end. Curl the ribbons. Once more, check and readjust any pieces, and trim the cellophane ends to even them out if necessary.

Finish off the lei by tying a bow at the joining with the grosgrain ribbon.

Tip: When you are pulling the cellophane off the roll to measure the length, it’s easier to roll out half the length (24"-child or 28"-adult), then fold the cellophane roll back over and roll back to the initial edge. Cut along initial edge. Keep the cellophane folded, and you can then measure 5" wide strips and cut through the double thickness of cellophane.

Variations: For Kukui Nut and Shell lei, alternate truffles with pieces of caramel popcorn; For Colored Kukui Nut lei, use different colored truffles and coordinating ribbons.

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Reviewed on: Jul 7, 2015 By