Hawaii is known for many products, like coconut. Unfortunately, like our defunct sugar industry, all of our coconut products come from other countries. If you want to make haupia, the coconut milk, even if it is Hawaiian Sun products, comes from Thailand.
We grew up drinking coconut water. My father would use a machete and cut open a young coconut and we would use a straw to drink the coconut water, like the coconut man at farmers market. Now the coconut water we buy at the stores comes from the Philippines, Brazil, or Thailand. Guess we have to go to the Farmer’s Market to get Hilo grown coconut water!
I started to wonder when haupia, or Hawaiian pudding, was created before cornstarch came to Hawaii. Well, originally, coconut milk was thickened with ground arrowroot and cooked until thick. That was a lot of work and when cornstarch was introduced, it cut the cooking time immensely.
Baking a haupia cake is simple with the help of boxed cake mix.
Makes one 9-inch round cake
1 (18-ounce) white cake mix
2 egg whites, whipped to soft peaks
2/3 cup coconut milk, thawed (use frozen coconut milk only, Mendonca Brand)
2/3 cup water
Haupia filling *
Whipped cream topping **
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans. Mix together cake mix, coconut milk, water, and fold in whipped egg whites (this makes the cake light and airy and to me is a necessary step). Pour batter into the three prepared pans, in equal amounts.
Bake for about 8 minutes. Check the cake, the center should bounce when gently touched, and the sides should shrink back slightly from the sides of the pan. Remember, if you remove the cake and it is not fully baked, it will fall in the middle and you cannot re-bake the cake, it needs to be thrown away.
Remove the cake from the oven and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove the cake pans, place cakes on cooling racks.
Prepare haupia filling.
In a bowl, combine and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
4 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup water
Add to a large saucepan with:
3 cups frozen coconut milk, thawed
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Bring to boil, mixing constantly. Continue cooking until pudding is smooth and there are no bubbles on top. The haupia should be thick and spreadable. Remove from heat and stir every few minutes as the mixture cools. This prevents a skin to form while it is cooling. After 10 minutes, stir in and allow to cool and add:
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Place one cake layer on a cake plate so the bottom of the cake (flat side) is on the top. Place strips of waxed paper around the bottom of the cake layer to protect the plate from spills and to keep it clean. Spread at little less than half of the haupia filling on top of the layer. Place the cake dish in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up the filling.
After 15 minutes, remove the cake from the refrigerator, place the second layer on top, again so the bottom of the cake (flat side) is on the top. Spread most of the remaining half of the haupia filling on top of the second layer. Then place the third layer, rounded side up, on top of the filling. Use the last bit of filling to smooth between the gaps in the layers along the sides of the cake. Place the cake back in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before frosting.
While the cake is in the refrigerator, prepare the whipped cream topping.
Whipped Cream Topping:**
Beat with standing electric mixer with whipping paddle attached:
1 cup heavy whipping cream (must be cold to whip up properly. If you have room in your refrigerator – the cake is in there already, place bowl in the refrigerator so it will be cold also).
When cream is slightly thickened, add:
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Continue whipping until cream is whipped and peaks form when the whipping paddle is lifted.
Using a metal spatula, spread the prepared whipped cream topping over the tops and sides of the cake. Sprinkle with flaked or shredded coconut over the top. Carefully remove the strips of waxed paper from the cake plate.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. Now this dessert would be ono after eating some poi and laulau!
The Foods of Modern Japan will be featured at the Bamboo Hale at Hawaii Community College’s Culinary Program, from today until Thursday. Call 934-2591 for reservations, and 934-2559 to find out what the specials of the day are at the cafeteria.
The Rotary Club of South Hilo’s 9th Annual Hilo Huli is being held on Sunday, May 5, at Coconut Island, starting at 11:30 a.m. Please get your tickets from any member of the club or from Uncle Billy’s Store on Banyan Drive. It is Cinco de Mayo Day and LaRay’s Tacos Plus will be there to showcase their great Mexican food, as well as Boy’s Day. Check out for a great dish for your special boy on his special day.
Hawaii Community College’s Bamboo Hale and the cafeteria will not be opened this week due to Hilo Classic Food Show on April 12th. Call 934-2591 or 934-2559 for tickets.