Chef's Corner: A cream pie for a Hawaiian holiday
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Chef's Corner: A cream pie for a Hawaiian holiday

Apr 26, 2023

Kamehameha Day, also known as King Kamehameha I Day, is a Hawaiian holiday commemorated every year on June 11.

The day honors Kamehameha the Great, the beloved monarch who the British thought notorious for uniting the Kingdom of Hawaii. Now let's talk about the food of Hawaii. No, it's not pineapples! Did you know pineapples are not native to Hawaii? They actually came from South America to Hawaii. In 1820, missionaries arriving to Hawaii found pineapples growing wild and in gardens. In 1849 during the California gold rush, pineapples shipped from Kona to Honolulu to California were becoming popular. Then in 1899, James Dole came to the islands and started the Hawaiian Pineapple Co. that eventually produced 75% of the world's pineapples.

Mr. Dole hired Henry Ginaca in 1910 to build a pineapple coring and peeling machine, which is still used today. By the 1980s, most of the pineapple production had moved from Hawaii to Asia and South America, leaving the top crops growing in Hawaii as macadamia nuts and coffee.

Some of my favorite ingredients are pineapple and coconut, so let's put them together into a pie and celebrate Kamehameha Day. Oh, by the way, did you know the pineapple is the symbol of hospitality? Sailing ship captains during the 1800s coming back to port would place a pineapple in their windows at home. This would be an invitation to friends and neighbors to visit him and celebrate the return with a party.

Pineapple Coconut Cream Pie


1-1/2 cups chopped fresh pineapple or canned pineapple tidbits

2 tablespoons plus 1 cup sugar, divided

1 package (5-1/4 ounces) coconut macaroon cookies

1/4 cup butter, melted

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup ground almonds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

Coconut Cream

1 can (13.66 ounces) coconut milk

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a small saucepan, combine pineapple and 2 tablespoons sugar. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is almost evaporated, stirring occasionally, 6-8 minutes. Cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350°. Place cookies in a food processor; pulse until fine crumbs form. Add butter, pulse just until blended. Press onto bottom and up sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and remaining sugar until smooth. Beat in yogurt, almonds and vanilla. Add eggs then beat on low speed just until blended. Fold in pineapple mixture. Pour into crust. Bake until the center is almost set, 35-40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate pie and can of coconut milk for at least 4 hours or until cold.

Place a mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer until cold, about 15 minutes. Turn chilled can of coconut milk upside down and open can. Pour off and discard liquid portion. Transfer solid portion remaining in can to the chilled bowl. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla; beat until stiff peaks form. Serve with pie.

Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or [email protected].

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