State Plate Recipe: Hawaii’s Haupia

Crazy for Coconut!

If you go to a traditional Hawaiian luau, chances are you’ll sample the sweet coconut custard dessert called haupia, usually served cubed on a plate lined with ti leaves. Can’t get to Hawaii any time soon? Throw your own luau. King Kamehameha Day is June 11th. Yes, Hawaii is the only US state established by and ruled by a monarch. But who needs an excuse to party? Invite your family and friends over for a colorful, joyful, Hawaiian-themed gathering, complete with music (Dust off that old ukulele), dancing (Brush up on your hula moves), entertainment (Twirling fire knives, impressive, but not recommended.) and lots and lots of food, leading up to this delectable dessert.

This recipe is from State Plate featured food expert, The Polynesian Cultural Center.


Yield: 1 standard 9 x 13 baking pan


  • Coconut Milk, 2 each 16 oz cans
  • Water, 3 cups
  • Cornstarch, 1.5 cups (measure carefully – do not estimate)
  • Sugar, 1 cup


  1. Mix 2 cups water with cornstarch. Set aside.
  2. Bring coconut milk, sugar and remaining water to a rolling boil on high heat.
  3. Pour cornstarch mixture into boiling coconut milk and cook till mixture thickens, blending with a whip.
  4. When mixture is smooth and thick pour into a clean baking tray.
  5. Cool to room temperature, then chill until cold.
  6. Cut into 1-inch squares.
  7. Serve on ti leaf lined trays

Variation: Use bottled juice in place of water. A good suggestion is V8 Splash Tropical Colada Smoothies (49 oz.).