By Request

Betty Shimabukuro

Recipes take 3 views
of a coconut classic

We trip over haupia so easily in Hawaii, it's easy to forget what a distinctive dessert it is.

Technically, haupia is coconut pudding, but it has the firmness and slice-ability of gelatin. This, plus its cool, clean taste, makes it a natural palate-cleanser after a heavy Hawaiian meal.

Lorena Lindberg, a Texan who hopes someday to make Hawaii her home, e-mailed a request for a coconut gelatin.

Three types turned up in "Favorite Island Cookery," the cookbook series published by the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin. The first is the usual approach to haupia, using coconut milk and cornstarch. The second is billed as an "easy haupia," using gelatin to firm up the milk. The third, kalamai, is a traditional pudding from Guam, which uses the coconut milk/cornstarch approach, but in an intriguing touch adds masa harina, or corn flour, normally used to make tortillas.

All cook up light, sweet and refreshing, but with different textures. The first is creamy and would make a nice filling for a cream puff; the second is more like Jell-O and would work cubed and served with fruit like a Chinese almond float; the third is the most dense.

All are good, cool desserts for summer.


3 cups coconut milk

1/2 cup sugar
Dash salt
1/2 cup cornstarch

Combine coconut milk with sugar and salt over medium heat in a saucepan. Slowly add cornstarch while stirring. Continue to cook and stir until thickened, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent burning. Pour into an ungreased 9-inch square pan. Cool slightly, then refrigerate until chilled and firm, about 1 hour.

Haupia Gelatin

1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
3/4 cup sugar
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
1 cup milk

Combine coconut milk and sugar in a pan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.

Sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand 1 minute.

Add gelatin mixture and milk to the coconut milk. Cook, stirring, until gelatin dissolves. Pour into an ungreased 8-inch square pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.


1 cup masa harina (see note)
3 cups coconut milk
1 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 cup sugar
4 cups water

Combine all ingredients except water in a bowl and stir until smooth.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil. Slowly add coconut milk mixture. Reduce heat to low and stir until thickened. Pour into an ungreased 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Cool until firm. May be served at room temperature or chilled.

Note: Masa harina, or corn flour, is sold in most supermarkets next to flour and cornmeal. Do not substitute cornmeal.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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"By Request," Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
500 Ala Moana, No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813.
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Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.

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