I adapated this Vegan Haupia Cake from a recipe by Roy Yamaguchi, a famous chef from Hawaii. Haupia (pronounced HOW-pee-ya) is something we would enjoy at luaus on Kauai, back in the day. It’s traditionally a cool and refreshing coconut pudding, often cut into squares. Here it’s a softer pudding that’s been infused into a sponge cake. It’s a bit richer than the original this way, but so ono (delicious). We’ve eliminated the animal cruelty and the cholesterol, but added a sprinkling of toasted coconut. You could use a vegan white or yellow cake, but the original recipe uses a sponge cake, which provides great texture. Here is the vegan sponge cake recipe I use. I make both layers and leave one in the freezer for future use.
VEGAN HAUPIA CAKE
Makes one 9-inch cake
a single 9-inch layer of vegan sponge cake, frozen and set to partially thaw
4 Cups unsweetened full-fat coconut milk (two 15 oz. cans is fine)
1.5 Cups water, divided
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2.5 teaspoons coconut extract
2 Tablespoons shredded sweetened coconut, for topping
Remove the single layer of cake from the freezer to let it thaw by half. You will slice it into two layers, and it’s easier to slice if it’s about half frozen at that time. In a small dry skillet, stir and toast the shredded sweetened coconut over medium heat–do not walk away, it only takes a couple of minutes.
To prepare the haupia, place the coconut milk, 1 Cup of the water and the sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a low boil, stirring a bit. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and the remaining 1/2 Cup water together to make a smooth slurry. Add the slurry to the coconut mixture, and stir until the mixture returns to a low boil and thickens. Remove from heat, let cool 5 minutes, and then stir in coconut extract.
Cut a thin slice off the top of the cake layer to level it flat. Slice the cake in half horizontally to make two somewhat-even layers. Place the bottom layer in a cake pan. Pour the haupia over the bottom layer to a thickness of about 1/2 inch (this will save some for the top). Place the top half of the cake layer over the haupia-soaked bottom layer, very gently pressing down. Pour more of the haupia over the top of the cake, using a spatula or the back of a spoon to gently spread it evenly. Refrigerate the cake for 3 to 4 hours to set the haupia. When ready to serve, garnish with the toasted shredded coconut.
Bottom layer back in the cake pan and soaking in haupia.