“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” I
accidentally rudely said aloud as the lady in front of me, an obvious tourist (not unlike myself) and nOOb to the Village Bake Shop in Hanalei, was squandering her chance at tasting greatness when she began to order the Apple Crumb bar. She turned around and gave me the “I’m smarter than you look”, arms folded and told me, “The Blue Book says that this place has the best Apple Crumb bar.”
I am not a shy girl, and I politely say, “But the Chocolate Haupia pie is memorable, beyond delicious, you won’t be sorry. ” Squinting her eyes a bit, she repeated her claim about the Kauai blue book guide and again told the cashier about the apple bar’s claim to fame. The cashier shrugged her shoulders and said, “We’ve evolved since that was printed…she’s right…we sell out of the pie daily.” I smiled, quite smugly.
So what is Haupia, if you don’t already know? Haupia is a traditional coconut milk-based Hawaiian dessert often found at luaus. It is oven served in little squares, and to me, it tastes like a cross between jello and pudding, however not as sweet as either. By itself it is fine, if you ask me, but nothing to write home about; But in this pie, it is quite a star.
This pie has everything you crave in a dessert and then some. It starts with a macadamia shorbread crust (oh. my.) that could easily stand alone as the best cookie ever, and then has a layer of Haupia, a layer of chocolate Haupia and finally is crowned with freshly made whipped cream, curls of crisp coconut, chopped macadamia nuts and grated bittersweet chocolate. This pie is dangerous, creamy, crunchy and incredible and I have replicated it to perfection. So humble, I am aware.
Humble AND outspoken. I am quite the catch, aren’t I?
Anyhow, if you need some sweet, coconutty and chocolate love to add to your life, make this pie, and then feel free to shout swear words at the air, because then you will be addicted, like me, and I will officially be your Haupia Pie pusher. It’s a title I will just have to live with.
Adapted from AllRecipes.com
Macadamia Nut Shortbread crust (see below)
1 cup milk
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk (I used regular not light, but I am sure light would be fine)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup cornstarch
7/8 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup white sugar
Macadamia Nut Shortbread Pie Crust
Adapted from Food and Wine
1 c. macadamia nuts (unsalted or salted is fine, just adjust your salt accordingly), toasted
1 c. all purpose flour
4 T. rice flour (just add extra flour if you don’t have rice flour)
4 T. granulated sugar
4 T. dark brown sugar (light is fine if that’s what you have)
1/4-1 t. salt (if you used unsalted nuts add the 1 t. and if you used salted nuts, add only 1/4 t.)
8 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ cubes
2 T. cold milk (I used 2%)
1/2 t. Vanilla extract
Garnishes: shaved coconut curls, chopped macadamia nuts and shaved bittersweet chocolate
Make the crust first. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and spray coat a pie pan with nonstick cooking spray. One cooking instructor once told me that she toasts any nuts on the stove top instead of the oven because invariably she ends up forgetting about and burning the ones in the oven. I just throw any nuts in a saute pan and stir constantly over medium heat for a couple of minutes or until it smells a bit toasty or is barely starting to brown. Nuts can burn quickly so take your pan off of the heat the minute you suspect they are done.
Place the toasted nuts in a food processor and chop them to oblivion until they are grainy. Add your flour through salt. Turn the food processor on and let all of the ingredients form a meal.
Add the cold, chopped butter a little at a time and pulse each time until the butter is incorporated. Add the milk and vanilla and pulse again. Your mixture will come together. See?
Press the mixture into your pie pan. Then get a sheet of wax paper and press down on the crust all around the bottom of the pan, pressing the crust flat and even. The original recipe suggests you refrigerate the crust for an hour before baking. I did not and it was fine, but I had one reader who ended up with a crumbly crust that was hard to serve so you may want to follow the original recipe advice and refrigerate before baking.
Bake for 25-35 minutes. It should turn golden on the outside edge and be slightly firm to the touch. If it’s a teensy bit softer than a typical cookie, it is fine; It will firm up as it cools and later in the fridge. Let it cool as you make the filling.
For the filling: In a medium sauce pan, place your coconut milk, milk and sugar and whisk together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water, gradually adding water the cornstarch until smooth and set aside. Turn your burner on medium and stir the milk mixture constantly, scraping the bottom so no hard bits form. After it comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and SLOWLY pour in your cornstarch mixture, stirring or whisking constantly. I like to whisk so there are no lumps. Cook and simmer for three minutes or so or until the mixture is nice and thick.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt your chocolate for a minute in the microwave, then stir, then another minute and repeat this process until it is completely melted (about 2-3 minutes). Separate the coconut pudding mixture into two equal portions (or make the one that is for the chocolate, a little bit heftier if you want more chocolate pudding to coconut pudding ratio). Add the melted chocolate to one of the puddings and stir until entirely mixed in.
Pour your coconut pudding over the pie crust, spreading evenly. Let the chocolate pudding cool for 5 minutes and then pour or spread the chocolate pudding over the coconut pudding. Refrigerate for two hours or so and make your whipped cream when ready to serve.
For the whipped cream: Whip the heavy cream in a stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment. Beat on medium at first and slowly work up to high until soft peaks form. Add your sugar, one tablespoon at a time and continue to beat on high until stiff peaks form. Either spread the whipped cream over the top of the pie or pipe it on with a pastry bag and LARGE star tip.
Sprinkle the top of the pie with large shaved coconut if you can find it at your natural foods store (it’s so stunning with the large shavings), chopped macadamia nuts and grate a bit of the bittersweet chocolate over the top as well. Enjoy with a cup of Kona coffee just for effect. Now swear like a sailor because you won’t be able to stop eating it…even for breakfast (just like I did this morning)