Everyone agrees on what you’re looking for – haupia. No one agrees on how to make it. Haupia is a traditional Hawaiian coconut-flavored dessert that is best described as a stiff pudding. Because we don’t know who’s right, we’ll give you the recipe from the Culinary Arts Program at Maui Community College. How could they be wrong?
4 cups coconut milk* 2-1/2 cups water 1-1/4 cups sugar 1 cup cornstarch
Combine the coconut milk and water. Stir until smooth. Add the sugar and cornstarch. Cook over low heat until thickened and shiny. If the haupia is grainy, you need to keep cooking the mixture because the fat in the coconut milk has not yet melted.
Now, those impulsive cooking students at the Maui Community College have also provided the means for you to take this one step further. It may not be traditional, they say, but you can “take ordinary haupia and make it a special ‘company coming’ dessert.” What’s the secret? Make a dough with 1/2 cup butter or margarine, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of chopped nuts. Press the dough into a pan and bake it for 15 minutes at 350°F (175°C). When the crust is cool, pour the just-made haupia over the top, chill it, and then serve with whipped cream and a sprinkling of plain or toasted shredded coconut.
*Coconut milk, as you rightly recall, is made by mixing equal parts of shredded coconut and water, and simmering until foamy. Then the mixture is strained through cheesecloth, and you squeeze as much liquid out of the pulp as possible.