Aloha, dear readers! It’s been a bit over a week since my last post, and I’ve missed you. I really have. But I’ve also been having the time of my life on a fantastic Maui vacation.
It was my second time to Hawaii. I went once about ten years ago for a long weekend. But this time I was extremely fortunate to be able to spend an entire week. Here’s what I looked like mid-week.
I think you’ll agree from the photo that I was having a good time. I sat on the beach. And then I sat on the beach some more. And then I went in the water for a bit. And then I sat on the beach some more. It was a pretty good week. Somewhere during all this activity I biked down a volcano for 23 miles and went snorkeling in a crater 11 miles off the coast. But the vacation mostly involved sitting on the beach.
And eating. It’s great what a few days in a different space will do for ideas and inspirations. I “discovered” haupia, which you will find pretty much everywhere in Hawaii. It’s a traditional dessert of coconut milk, sugar, and a thickener (cornstarch or the more traditional arrowroot).
It’s delicious. It’s light and not overly sweet. A refreshing end to any meal. And although it’s technically a pudding, it has the consistency of a gelatin dessert. Think coconut Jell-O®. It may be a little bit of a surprise to us Americans, but it’s not really that strange of a thing for Europe — they have the blancmange, which is pretty much the same thing, albeit generally with an almond flavor instead of coconut.
So, go a little Hawaiian! Try this out. It takes minutes to prepare, and even though it’s not really a decadent or show-stopping sort of dessert, it’s very satisfying, light, and understandable why it has stood the test of time. It’s also foolproof (not that any of you are fools). The only trick to making a great haupia is to cook it long enough so that you’re sure it will set, you’ve fully cooked out any raw cornstarch taste and you’ve worked out any potential lumps. Just keep cooking for 5 minutes or so after the mixture thickens to ensure a creamy and perfect result. You’ll know you’re done when the mixture seems to want to separate itself from your saucepan.
- 1 (13.5 oz/399 ml) can coconut milk
- ¾ cup (177 ml) water
- 6 Tbsp. (74 g) sugar
- 6 Tbsp. (56 g) cornstarch
- ½ tsp. (2.5 ml) coconut extract (or vanilla extract)
- Toasted shredded (sweetened or not) coconut for garnish (optional)
- Put the coconut milk in a saucepan.
- Combine the water with the sugar and cornstarch until it’s all well combined.
- Add the water/sugar/cornstarch mixture to the coconut milk, and begin heating the saucepan over medium heat.
- Stirring continuously with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, and scraping the bottom and sides so as to prevent the mixture from scorching, bring the mixture to a boil. It will thicken quite a bit.
- Continue stirring over the heat under the mixture is so thick that it separates from the sides of the saucepan as you stir it.
- Stir in the coconut extract (or the vanilla extract).
- Pour the mixture into 9 muffin tins, or into and 8×8 square baking dish.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Then you can either cut the haupia in the baking dish into squares for serving, or remove them gently with a spoon and your fingers from the muffin tins.
- Top with shredded coconut (heated in a dry saucepan until golden brown) and serve!