A Harte Appetite: Hula Pie - The Signature Dessert of Hawaii
Returning from a recent trip to Hawaii, KRCU General Manager Dan Woods reports that he fell in love with the sweet grace, the sensuous beauty, and the rich symbolism of the hula. Mind you, he was not referring to the famous native dance, but to Hula Pie.
Hula Pie is the signature dessert of an Hawaiian Restaurant chain and originated at the company’s first restaurant, Kimo’s in Old Lahaina Town in Maui.
The dessert is a spectacular ice cream pie, reminiscent of the Mile High Pie that they used to serve at the now sadly shuttered Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans.
Now, as the New York Times Cookbook points out, ice cream pie is not a complicated dish. Some versions are nothing more than layers of ice cream pressed into a pie plate, though usually there’s a crust of some kind.
The Hula Pie uses a crumb crust made of Oreos. Then an entire quart of macadamia nut ice cream is piled into the crust to form a huge mound. Finally, the whole thing is covered with fudge sauce and garnished with whipped cream and macadamia nuts. No wonder the Food Network Magazine recently named the Hula Pie the best frozen dessert in all of the Hawaiian Islands . Shave ice didn’t stand a chance.
We normally tend to be thinking about ice cream pie during the summer, but any month, of course, is a good time for pie.
After all, ice cream pie combines what are probably the two most quintessential American desserts. First, there’s ice cream, which some say is a veritable “symbol of America.” In fact, during World War II eating ice cream was discouraged in Japan on the grounds that it displayed sympathy with the enemy. Likewise, pie, whether apple or some other variety, could hardly be more American.
Who first thought of putting these two all-American desserts together is anybody’s guess. But to whomever it was, I offer a heartfelt mahalo.
You don’t need to go all the way to Hawaii to experience the magic of the hula. Just try this hula pie recipe adapted from the original version served at Kimo’s on Front Street in Old Lahaina Town in Maui.
24 Oreo cookies
¼ cup butter, melted
1 quart macadamia nut ice cream
1 jar (12 ounce) hot fudge ice cream topping
1 and ½ cups whipping cream
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
Process cookies in food processor until texture of coarse meal. Add melted butter and process until combined. Press mixture into bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan and refrigerate for one hour. Soften ice cream and spread in pie crust. Refreeze until firm. Top with fudge sauce. Whip cream to soft peaks and pipe decoratively around edge of pie. Sprinkle with nuts.