Ka'ana Kitchen's Mini Haupia (Coconut Pudding) Ube (Purple Sweet Potato) Cheesecake

You guys, I can't even tell you how excited I am to share this recipe for Ka'ana Kitchen's haupia ube cheesecake with you!!! However, before I do that, I need to tell you about my favorite new restaurant on Maui, Ka'ana Kitchen. Located in the Andaz Maui at Wailea, the restaurant is a bit of a hidden gem. It's tucked away on the ground floor of one of Maui's newest, hippest hotels and has quickly become a family favorite. As you may recall, I recently spent a week on Maui and two of seven dinners were had at Ka'ana Kitchen. Pretty sure that's a strong indicator that I love this restaurant. ;) But here's the thing, it's not just because the food is amazing, because it is but not only do they serve up an amazing meal, they create a wonderful dining experience.

Have you ever seen the movie Lilo and Stitch? Please tell me you have because it's seriously one of the cutest animated Disney films, ever! Well, I'm gonna assume we've all watched it and continue with my story. There's a scene in the movie when Lilo's sister is trying to get rid of Stitch and she pulls the ohana card and say, "Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten." Well, I'm not sure why but somehow while watching the dinner service and the flow of the staff, that scene popped into my head. It's probably because the staff at Ka'ana kitchen operate a lot like a family. You're greeted by almost everyone you pass and while JD might be your server for the evening, you can expect the rest of the staff to check in on you throughout the night, making sure your glass is always full, your plates are promptly cleared (unless you're like me and insist on holding onto them to eat up every bite), and your night is everything you could hope for and more.

If you go in, wait, when you go in, make sure to call in advance and request a seat at the chef's counter or if you're a wine lover, the sommelier's table. Trust me, these are the best seats in the house because not only do you get to interact with the front of the staff, you also get to chat with all of the 'back of the house' although, are they even called that when the gorgeous, extremely open kitchen is right in front of you? Oh yeah, that's right, I forgot to mention that awesome detail. Upon entry, you'll see Ka'ana Kitchen's beautiful open kitchen, where you'll see first hand all the magic that usually happens behind closed doors. And honestly, that couldn't be more fitting because that's pretty much the philosophy behind this restaurant, openness and accessibility. Have a question about where your meat or watermelon radishes were sourced? Ask! It's most likely raised or grown locally and brought in fresh that day. Wondering how the strawberries were prepared? Ask!!! The chefs are more than willing to answer questions, even if you ask a million...which I may have and which actually brings me to today's recipe. 

There's a dessert on Ka'ana Kitchen's dessert menu that I obsessed over when I went the first time I went this last trip. I mean it was perfect and super cute too (it's served in a little weck/mason jar). Think creamy cheesecake topped with light, sweet, refreshing haupia and layered above smooth, rich, luscious purple sweet potatoes all wrapped up in one cute little jar. It's pretty dreamy. And so, when I went back for the second time, I knew I had to ask the chef for the recipe. Guess what, he's the best, and offered to email it to me (scaled down of course) and after a couple emails, here I am sharing it with you today. I made a few changes, mostly suggested by Akira, the awesome pastry chef at Ka'ana Kitchen. First, there's a buckwheat macadamia nut layer/crust on the bottom of these mini cheesecakes, per his recommendation. Then, I had to substitute ube (purple yam) for purple sweet potatoes because I couldn't find a purple sweet potato to save my life (note, I had a the opposite issue when making these). And finally, I topped them with some freshly whipped cream and macadamia nuts for good measure (mainly because it made them extra pretty). I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It was a real treat to receive this recipe and I'm soooo happy to share it today. 

Ka'ana Kitchen's Mini Haupia (Coconut Pudding) Ube (Purple Sweet Potato) Cheesecake

Slightly adapted from Akira Kumada's Haupia Molokai Sweet Potato Cheesecake

Makes 9-10 mini cheesecakes or one 9-inch to 10-inch cheesecake

INGREDIENTS

MACADAMIA NUT BUCKWHEAT LAYER/CRUST

  • 1 1/4 c. + 1 tbsp. buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 c. dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp. (1 3/4 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and chilled
  • 1/3 c. mild-flavored honey (I used clover)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. roughly chopped macadamia nuts

YAM/SWEET POTATO FILLING

  • 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 14 oz purple yams or purple sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 c. evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

MASCARPONE CHEESECAKE

  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 8 oz. mascarpone
  • 2/3 c. + 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt

HAUPIA

  • 3 1/2 c. coconut milk
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch

TOOLS

  • Large pot
  • Medium saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Silicone spatula
  • Stand mixer
  • Baking sheet
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Glass measuring cup (for liquids)
  • 9-10 wide mouth half pint (8 oz.) mason jars or 9" - 10" springform pan
  • Potato masher

FIX

MACADAMIA NUT BUCKWHEAT LAYER/CRUST

  1. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine buckwheat flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low to incorporate, then add the butter and mix on low, until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined. Add to the flour mixture and mix on low until the dough barely comes together. Note that it will be very soft and sticky.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a disc. Wrap in plastic and chill for an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  5. If using small jars, divide the dough into equal portions and put one portion of the crust into each jar and evenly pat down with your fingers. If using a springform pan, evenly pat down mixture into pan.
  6. Bake the jars (on a sheet pan)for 12 minutes or bake pan for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.

*NOTE: You can skip pre-baking the mixture if you'd like but the consistency will be more like a buckwheat layer (like the photos above) than an actual crust.

YAM/SWEET POTATO FILLING

  1. In a large pot, cover yams or sweet potatoes with water and bring to a boil. For yams, boil for 25-30 minutes, or until fork tender and for sweet potatoes, boil for 8-10 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove from water and let cool completely. Then remove skins and mash with a potato masher.
  2. Bring all remaining ingredients to room temperature.
  3. In a the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium for 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy, then add eggs one at a time and beat until each egg is fully incorporated.
  4. Add mashed yam or sweet potato, and mix on medium-low until thoroughly combined. 
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on medium-low until combined. Use immersion blender or blender to blend to desired consistency. 

MASCARPONE CHEESECAKE

  1. Bring all ingredients to room temperature
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and mascarpone on mediu,, until smooth. Scrape down bowl and paddle with spatula.
  3. Add sugar and mix on medium until incorporated. Scrape bowl and paddle.
  4. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in eggs one at a time, scraping bowl after each addition. 

ASSEMBLY

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. 
  2. For jars, evenly distribute yam or sweet potato filling into each jar (filled with buckwheat layer/crust), then top yam/sweet potato filling with equal parts of cheesecake batter. For springform pan, simply top buckwheat layer/crust with yam/sweet potato filling then top with cheesecake batter.
  3. Bake in a waterbath (create with a deep baking pan or casserole dish, and fill with boiling water) for 25 minutes. Turn off oven, crack open the door and let sit for 40 minutes. Remove from water and let cool to room temperature.
  4. When cooled, top with haupia (see below).

NOTE: I also topped my jars with whipped cream, chopped macadamia nuts, and nasturtium petals. I whipped 1/2 c. of whipping cream with 1 Tbsp. of granulated sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla in chilled bowl of stand mixer, fitted with whisk attachment on high until semi-stiff peaks formed.

HAUPIA

  1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine all ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Heat on low, low/medium and allow to come to simmer while whisking until thick and shiny.  Make sure all cornstarch is cooked out.
  3. Keep pan on a low heat and pour over cooked, cooled cheesecake and let set in fridge for at least 2-3 hours or overnight.