Silken tofu? Opaque ice cubes? Shower jelly from Lush?

When these gelatinous white globs arrived on my dessert platter at the Old Lahaina Luau, I have to say I was a little afraid. Or disgusted. Either way, I thought this Hawaiian sweet could use a little reinventing.

First off, the cold jelly shape had to go. Haupia usually bears more resemblance to a gelatin than a pudding. But I think it looks a bit too much like those jelly candies in the asian supermarket that have funny tastes and scarily unidentifiable ingredients.

Most of the traditional haupia recipes use rather massive does of sugar and cornstarch – sometimes half as much cornstarch as coconut milk! For those of you who have missed the Michael Pollon food revolution, artificially derived corn products don’t do good things for your body. On a purely nutritional level, toning down the gelatinousness is definitely a good thing.

Arrowroot powder, which can be find at Whole Foods and some Trader Joe’s and larger grocers in the spice section, is a much natural option. It has the added benefit of not adding a flavor of its own to your food, and it can make a very effective thickener in much lower doses than cornstarch.

Serve haupia warm or at room temperature so you can really enjoy the coconut flavor. When food is served cold, the flavors are vastly subdued, and this dessert is very subtly flavored. Just be sure not to reheat the haupia too long, as overheating will break down the thickening agents in the arrowroot.

Enjoy! And please let me know if you have any questions.

Serves: 8
Prep time: 5 minutes
Adapted from ‘Ono Kine Grindz


  • two cans of unsweetened coconut milk
  • arrowroot
  • sugar


  1. Set the coconut milk over medium-low heat.
  2. Dissolve one tablespoon of arrowroot powder in a quarter cup of cold water.
  3. Add a quarter cup of sugar to the coconut milk and stir to combine.
  4. Add the arrowroot water to the pudding and stir constantly until the mixture has thickened. This will happen quickly, so be sure to watch the pot.
  5. Remove the pudding from heat as soon as it has thickened and set aside at room temperature until served.