Paul and I both have a soft spot for Hawaii. It was where we spent our honeymoon (two glorious weeks - one on Oahu and one on Kauai) and we hope to go back in a couple of years. Although I wasn't as food-obsessed back then as I am now, we still did manage to eat really well while we were there - fancy restaurants, local watering holes and fruit stands on the side of the road - we tried it all.
The one thing about Hawaii is the fresh ingredients - there's so much amazing local produce and the flavours are so different than what we normally find here in Canada.
To that end, when I saw a photo of haupia on Pinterest, I knew I had to make it.
Haupia is a traditional Hawaiian dessert that is basically a coconut pudding. It's slightly thicker than custard, but not quite as resilient gelatin (which I found out when I attempted to cut it). The flavour is very subtle, so if you want an intense coconut flavour, this dessert isn't what you're looking for. But, it has a wonderfully true coconut flavour, cool and refreshing. It's actually a perfect dessert for a hot summer day or after a spicy meal.
Haupia is traditionally thickened with pia (Polynesian arrowroot), but since that's hard to find, I've used the more common cornstarch, but I do hope to get my hands on pia soon to see if that makes a difference to the recipe.
p.s. I was watching Hawaii Five-0 and eating haupia while typing up this recipe because nothing goes with a sweet Hawaiian dessert like watching the H50 team in action. (Yeah, you totally just found out one of my guilty pleasures!)
4 cups coconut milk
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup cornstarch
Combine the coconut milk and water in a medium saucepan and heat on medium low heat, stirring continually until the coconut milk and water are smooth.
In a medium bowl, mix together sugar and cornstarch.
Slowly whisk the sugar and cornstarch mixture into the milk and water. Increase heat to medium and whisk continously until mixture turns thick and shiny (approximately 20-25 minutes).
Once the mixture starts to thicken, pour into a a clean baking tray and cool to room temperature (do not cover). Once the haupia has cooled to room temperature, cover and refrigerate until cold.
Cut into squares and serve.
Note: I found that the tray I used made the haupia too thick, so it took a long time to cool. I'd recommend not making the haupia thicker than 1 1/2 inch tall.