For those who haven’t tried haupia, this dessert will be deliciously different!

For those who enjoy coconut, or sweet potatoes, or both, this dessert may very well be something for you to try out. Haupia is a firm coconut pudding made with coconut milk, water, corn starch and sugar. Very simple recipe, easy to make, and very popularity in Hawaii. You can easily find haupia in the form of pies, layered puddings or in a small packet of powdered mix that you can just add some water, chill for a few hours and it’s ready to eat. And, of course, you will no doubt come across little paper trays of chilled haupia squares at luaus or Hawaiian food eateries.

Sweet Potato Haupia Pie combines the cool, silky texture of haupia; a rich yet light layer of Okinawan sweet potato filling; and a crumbly shortbread crust usually sprinkled with toasted macadamia nuts.  The haupia lightens up the dessert, giving it a refreshing yet creamy taste, unlike that of a regular whipped topping (which can be added on top of the haupia, if you like!)

I made my own version (used regular sweet potatoes, no Okinawan ones at the market) and admit I couldn’t wait the allotted time to eat it, so my haupia was a bit runny and the flavors not quite developed. Thankfully, I made two pans, so was able to get you a nice photo of this wonderful dessert the next morning. The gluten-free crust is an excellent choice for this recipe. The texture is very light and crumbly, and the addition of coconut and toasted macadamia nuts gives it an extra crunch.

This is a three-step process: baking the crust, making the filling, and chilling the pie with the haupia topping. Be sure to make the haupia after the pie has cooled since it will set up quickly. And though the recipe is for a pie, for convenience I baked it in a square pan.
Makes one 8″x8″ pan, double recipe for 13″x9″ pan

Coconut Crust, Gluten-Free (based on “Tart Shell Crust” recipe from Gluten-Free Baking Classics):

1 cup Brown Rice Flour Mix (2 parts brown rice flour, 2/3 parts potato starch, 1/3 part tapioca starch)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoons xanthan gum
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons toasted, unsalted macadamia nuts, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position rack in center of oven. Spray an 8″x8″ square cake pan with cooking spray, set aside.

In a food processor or large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar and xanthan gum. Add butter and mix (or pulse, or cut with pastry cutter) until crumbly. Add vanilla and mix well. Add macadamia nuts last, if using, and stir just enough to incorporate into dough. Mixture will be sandy, not sticky. Gently press mixture into bottom of square pan. Sprinkle unsweetened flaked coconut on top and press into crust.

Bake in center of oven for about 16-18 minutes or until golden. Set aside while you make sweet potato filling.

Sweet Potato Filling: 

2 cups baked or boiled sweet potato, cooled and skins removed (about  5)
1 egg
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup lowfat soy milk

In a large mixing bowl beat sweet potato to break up, just for ten seconds (potatoes are already very soft.) Add egg, sugar and salt, beat to combine. Slowly add vanilla and soy milk. Mix well, about 1 minute.

Pour sweet potato mixture into prepared crust and bake for 30-33 minutes or until surface begins to brown. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for about an hour before making the haupia topping.

Haupia Topping (modified from ‘Ono Kine Grindz):

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
1/2 cup water

In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add water, mix well. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, pour in coconut milk and heat on medium high for about 2 minutes or until heated through. Stir cornstarch-sugar-water mixture to ensure everything is mixed well, then add to coconut milk. Stir constantly with wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula until mixture starts to thicken, about 5-7 minutes (be sure you scrape the bottom of the pot.) Remove from heat.

Pour haupia mixture evenly onto sweet potato filling. Let sit on counter for about 15 minutes to cool off a bit. Make room in fridge so there’s plenty of room for air to circulate around the pan (I even turn down the temperature, normally set to 4, I make it colder to 6.) Chill at least 4 hours, but overnight is best. Cut into 16 squares.