In the summer, I get more nostalgic for Hawaii. The lush green has come back from the grave of winter and the air is hot and sticky with the occasional warm breeze. I live in Oklahoma, so there’s nothing tropical about this place, but sometimes when I’m laying outside and close my eyes I can imagine being back on the island I love.
Growing up, one of the desserts I used to enjoy eating was haupia, a traditional Hawaiian coconut dessert. It’s made with coconut milk thickened with a starch and is usually firm enough to cut into squares. I added a little less starch and made it into a pudding instead, which is honestly a lot easier to serve and tastes just as delicious!
I added a half of a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract to make it a little more special and to keep the mixture from turning brown. I also mixed up a bunch of fresh fruit to top it with, like mango, kiwi, pineapple, and mixed berries….and pretty edible flowers don’t hurt either! I got mine from a local organic nursery which sells pesticide free plants and flowers. Just make sure yours is free from toxic sprays and is safe to eat before putting them on your food.
I like mine with toasted coconut, but the kids prefer theirs without. It’s totally optional, but you could add it if you like that delicious, toasty flavor and extra crunch. I suggest serving it on the side for people to top their own if they choose.
It’s such a simple, yet impressive dessert. The pudding can even be made a day or two before, which makes it a cinch to throw together. This pudding is fresh, creamy, slightly sweet, and made with wholesome ingredients. It’s the perfect summertime dessert, just top it with your favorite fruit and enjoy!
- 1 13.5 oz can full-fat Coconut Milk (about 1⅔ cup)
- 3 tablespoons Organic Sugar (for most authentic "haupia" flavor) or light colored Honey.*
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons Corn Starch
- ½ Vanilla Bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- fresh fruit salad
- mint leaves, optional
- edible flowers, optional
- toasted coconut, optional
- ½ mango, peeled and cubed
- 4-5 strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 2 kiwi, peeled and diced
- ⅓ cup chopped pineapple
- ⅓ cup blueberries
- ⅓ cup raspberries
- Place coconut milk and sweetener into a medium saucepan. Mix together 2 tablespoons of water with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and add that to the saucepan. Add the vanilla been seeds, the half of the scraped vanilla bean pod, and a pinch of salt to the saucepan and whisk to combine. Place on the stove over medium heat, whisking constantly until the milk begins to thicken. When ready, it should be the consistency of a thick gravy (thick but pourable).
- If making individual servings, divide the pudding immediately into 3 or 4 (4-ounce) serving dishes, cover and refrigerate for a few hours until chilled. If not, pour pudding into an airtight container and refrigerate until chilled.
- Combine fruit together in a medium bowl and gently toss to evenly combine. Can use your favorite fruit in place of any of the ones listed. I recommend combining the fruit just before servings as some of the berries can get mushy. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
- Place ¼ – ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut into a dry pan. Place on the stove over medium-low heat and move constantly with a heat-safe spatula or wooden spoon until the coconut is golden brown. Transfer coconut to a bowl immediately to avoid burning.
- To serve, top pudding with several spoonfuls of mixed fruit, mint leaves, edible flowers, and toasted coconut. Makes 3-4 servings.