We’re kicking off spring this year with a refreshing treat that’s super easy to make! This simple recipe only commands 4 ingredients including water, so it’s cost-effective and will have everyone fighting for the last bite! This dish is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and customizable for anyone to enjoy.
Haupia- ‘Hau’ meaning ‘cool’ and ‘Pia’ meaning ‘arrowroot’ in Hawaiian, this famous delicacy has been around since the 1940s. It can be described as a type of coconut pudding but with a more jellied and firm texture. It is chilled, cut into squares, and consumed as is, but has the potential for much more! It can be utilized as the topping and decoration on cakes, delicious fillings in pies (chocolate haupia pie!), dessert bars, served with ice cream, and topped with a variety of garnishes!
Haupia is a popular dish eaten in Hawaii during times of celebration, such as luaus and weddings. You can find it at most restaurants and food establishments on the island, or even pre-packaged mixes to take home and make yourself!
In traditional Polynesian cuisine, this dish has been made in a slightly different fashion; with coconut cream and pia; also known as Polynesian arrowroot; a starch that is closely related to the yam family and difficult to obtain in the United States.
In this modern spin, we substitute pia for cornstarch, which gives the Haupia the same consistent texture and use coconut milk, water, and sugar to control the sweetness and produce more haupia (you’re going to thank us later!).
Feel free to experiment with this recipe as much as you like! It’s a terrific base if you want to add cocoa powder/chocolate, matcha powder, vanilla, hibiscus tea, or coffee. You can even add or remove sugar to your personal tastes. Adjust the texture/solidity by how much cornstarch you use- add less for a relaxed Haupia, and more if you like more bite out of your dessert.
Next, we’ll take you through the process step by step for the best outcome for this recipe! To begin, the equipment you will need include:
8x8 baking dish, lightly misted with pam or rubbed with coconut oil
Non-stick cooking spray or coconut oil
Once you’ve gathered your equipment, combine a 13.5 fluid ounce can of coconut milk with 5 tablespoons of granulated sugar into the saucepan. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved into the milk. Place on the stovetop, and turn the heat on medium-low until it starts to simmer.
At this point, if you would like to adjust flavorings, add them in now- as previously stated you can be as creative in this step as you want! If you are a fan of complementary flavors, add in a touch of cocoa/chocolate, green tea powder, or vanilla. If you like to keep it traditional, skip this step.
In a separate small bowl, whisk 5 tablespoons of cornstarch into ½ cup water that is preferably room temperature or warm, to make a slurry. Again, water can be substituted for tea or coffee for a more colorful flavor profile! Crank up the heat to high, and once the coconut milk is boiling, quickly whisk the cornstarch slurry into the coconut milk mixture until it begins to thicken.
The Haupia should have the consistency of a thick pudding when it is hot. When it is done cooking, turn off the heat, and using your spatula, pour the mixture into the 8x8 pan and spread it out until it is smooth and even across. Mist a piece of plastic wrap with pam or rub lightly with coconut oil so it doesn’t stick to the haupia, and place it gently on top, being careful not to create air pockets- sometimes there is a skin that is created when hot food cools down, similar to when you make hot chocolate and leave it sitting on the stovetop for a while.
Let the Haupia cool in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, and when you’re ready use your Forge to Table Bench Knife to cut the Haupia into squares! Haupia is fantastic served on banana leaves, accompanied with raspberries, blackberries, pineapple, passionfruit, chocolate, and more! Happy cooking.
Hawaiian Coconut Haupia
‘Hau’ meaning ‘cool’ and ‘Pia’ meaning ‘arrowroot’ in Hawaiian, this famous dessert has been mesmerizing taste buds since the 1940’s! It’s a firm coconut pudding that is refreshing, simple, and brings the big island in one bite! Try with some flavorful toppings like matcha or cocoa.
Recipe by Nicole Gresko
Forge To Table
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
1, 13.5 fluid ounce can of coconut milk
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
5 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup warm water
Non-stick spray or coconut oil
Matcha powder, for garnish (optional)
Cocoa powder, for garnish (optional)
Raspberries, for garnish (optional)
(PREPARE DISH) Lightly grease an 8x8 baking dish (or another appropriately sized dish) with non-stick spray or coconut oil. Set aside.
(START HAUPIA) In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk and granulated sugar. If using vanilla, be sure to combine in this step as well. Heat over medium and whisk until sugar has melted. Continue heating until the mixture comes to a bare simmer- the edge of the saucepan should start to bubble.
(MIX SLURRY) Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and warm water until completely dissolved to create a slurry. Set aside.
(FINISH HAUPIA) Increase heat to high to bring the mixture to a boil, and stir in the cornstarch slurry. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to a pudding texture, about 1 minute.
(SET HAUPIA) Remove from heat and quickly transfer to your prepared baking dish. Use a spoon or an offset spatula to smooth it evenly into every corner of the pan. Let cool slightly before lightly spraying a piece of plastic wrap with non-stick spray and pressing it very gently on top of the Haupia, removing any trapped air bubbles.
(CHILL) Let the Haupia chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours. When ready to serve, discard the plastic wrap, place a cutting board on top of the pan, and flip over to release the Haupia onto the cutting board. Using a Forge to Table Bench Knife, slice the Haupia into 16 squares, or as many as you see fit.
(GARNISH) Serve the Haupia pieces with fresh berries or sliced tropical fruits. Optionally, dust a few pieces with matcha powder, cocoa, or toasted coconut flakes for more variety in flavor and texture!
Use more water for a softer texture or less water for a firmer bite, depending on how you like your Haupia. This is a good middle-of-the-road texture!
Double the recipe but keep the 8”x8” pan for a thicker cube of Haupia.
Photography by Sam Burgess