It’s summertime, and many of you will be planning outdoor picnics or maybe even a Hawaiian luau? If you want to plan a luau, you definitely have to make my favorite Hawaiian dessert known as haupia, which is a form of coconut pudding.
I say you have to make it because 1) it’s super easy to make using my recipe and 2) there really are very few traditional Hawaiian desserts, people may just serve pineapple for the Hawaiian theme but haupia cut up into cubes are always found at the luau table.
Living on the mainland, I’ve craved haupia over the years. Problem is, I hadn’t been able to perfect the recipe to create that perfect creamy coconut pudding but with the firmness of Jello. The haupia I love eating whenever I go home to Hawaii always have that creaminess but firmness so you can eat it in cubes. Most haupia recipes keep to core ingredients, which is typically coconut, water and cornstarch (to thicken instead of gelatin).
Finally after some experimentation, I can now make haupia that reminds me of home. And now you can make it as an accompaniment for that warm-weather dining because the cooling flavor of the coconut pudding will just take you to the islands. My recipe uses coconut cream for that extra richness and adds milk instead of water, just for that added pure white color. The patient technique comes into play too, because you want to get the right thickness on the stove top. It’s kind of like making custard.
When I recently made haupia, I had to serve it up in my very own Hawaiian plate, which is made up of two scoops of rice, some lomi lomi salmon, and the main entree of kalua pork (or salted pulled pork). You can go with my easy oven-made kalua pork recipe here. Finish it with the haupia and it’s ono-licious time! Enjoy!
Makes four servings
2 cups coconut cream
1/2 cup sugar*
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup milk
Pour coconut cream, milk and sugar into a medium pot or saucepan. Over medium heat, stir until the sugar is dissolved (about two minutes).
In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with about 5 tablespoon of cold water. Stir until cornstarch is dissolved, creating a cornstarch slurry. This makes it easier to pour the cornstarch into the coconut mixture.
With your coconut mixture still on medium heat, slowly stir in the cornstarch slurry (add the entire thing). Then slowly cook, stirring occasionally, until the coconut mixture thickens like pudding. It’ll begin watery and then the cornstarch will “activate” and you’ll start to see clumping. Stirring vigorously in the beginning will help break down the lumpy cornstarch. Stir and cook until the mixture feels silky and you can scrape your finger across the back of a wooden spoon covered with haupia and the streak stays. On my stove top on medium heat, it took me about 8 to 10 minutes for the haupia to get the right thickness and smooth texture.
Remove haupia from the heat. Let cool a bit and then pour into 8X8 heat-proof glass square container. (Optional: You can make individual servings by pouring haupia into ramekins.) Let haupia cool completely before refrigerating. Leave in refrigerator until haupia firms up, about 4 hours or overnight is best. When ready to serve, cut into 1-inch cubes and serve cold.
*My version of haupia isn’t as sweet because I figure the coconut cream will already be a bit sweet. If you like your haupia on the sweeter side, you can increase the sugar by a 1/4 cup for a total of 3/4 cup sugar.
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