What is Haupia?

Hawaiian cuisine is not only known for their delicious main dishes, but also for various desserts made from abundant of tropical tree fruits on the island. One of the popular desserts traditionally made in Hawaii is Haupia. This is a coconut milk-based dessert that is also found and served during luaus and other Hawaiian gatherings. It has gained popularity since the 2nd World War and is considered a popular topping for various white cakes prepared especially during weddings.

Although it can be considered as a pudding, its consistency is close to the texture of a gelatin dessert. It is also frequently served in blocks just like gelatins. However, in some restaurants, they serve it in other shapes and top it with nuts or other complementing toppings.

The traditional way of preparing this dish is heating the coconut milk and mix it with ground pia or the Polynesian arrowroot until the consistency of the mixture thickens. Since there are times when there is a lack for arrowroot starch, other recipes use cornstarch as its substitute.

For modern day recipes, diluted coconut milk is mixed with salt and sugar and is mixed with cornstarch and arrowroot and then poured in a pan. The mixture will be chilled and is processed like gelatin. In place of cornstarch, some are using unflavored gelatin and erroneously call the dessert haupia. However, for those who would like to taste the real flavor of traditional Hawaiian Haupia, following the traditional recipe is enough to create a batch and serve it as a dessert to the entire family.

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