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Pani Popo (Samoan Sweet Coconut Bread)

Seriously who doesn’t love to eat Pani Popo? If you are asking yourself, “What is Pani Popo?”, then look no further than this recipe. It is probably one of our family’s favorite things to eat. I first had this when I was at college in Hawaii.  I immediately fell in love with this ultra-soft, gooey, and sweet coconut bread. In the past, I have shied away from coconut flavored foods, but the exposure to Pani Popo and Hawaiian culture absolutely changed my preferences.  After pulling them fresh out of the oven, the warm coconut sauce on the surface of the bread is what makes this dessert so irresistible.

As I mentioned in my “About Me” page, Michael and I met each other in Hawaii. After we got married and moved to the mainland, we would often talk about how much we loved to eat Pani Popo and wished we had some in California

One day, to my excitement, I was browsing the internet and came across a Pani Popo recipe. I decided to give it try. Following the recipe’s instructions, I made our first Californian Pani Popos (let’s just say that it wasn’t the best recipe).  After we tried serval additional recipes, we found that all of them are a little too sweet for us. For me, I was dying to make some golden-brown rolls with creamy coconut sauce on top, so I had to make some changes to the recipe and eventually came up with one that appeals to my family. I have shared my Pani Popo using this recipe at social parties, church events, and with my family and have had great success.

I seriously feel a little shy sharing this recipe with people, because it is extremely easy to make.

It only requires five ingredients to make these golden-brown, coconut flavored rolls. I love to use these frozen dinner rolls to make Pani Popo, because they are quick to prepare, easy on busy parents, and taste wonderful!
First, grease your baking pan, follow the instruction of how to thaw the rolls in the back of the roll’s bag. I used the faster method to thaw the rolls and they always rise perfectly.
While waiting for the rolls to rise. I make the coconut sauce. Add coconut milk and the sugar in the pot and bring it to a boil. Mix water with cornstarch, then pour it into the coconut milk. At the same time, keep whisking the coconut sauce until thick. The sweet coconut sauce is now complete.
Pour half of the coconut sauce on each side of the rolls. I try not to pour the sauce on the top of the rolls because I like the rolls to come out to a nice golden-brown on the top after baked.Oops, I dropped some coconut sauce on the top of the rolls and that’s totally fine. Pop them in the oven and bake them at 350F for 20-25 minutes.

Pour in rest of the coconut sauce on the top of the rolls right after they come out of the oven. Make sure to whisk the coconut sauce before pouring it in to allow to sauce to have a better consistency.

Enjoy the quick and easy homemade freshly baked Pani Popo and share with your friends!

Pani Popo (Samoan Coconut Sweet Rolls)

  • Yield: 12
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 frozen dinner rolls
  • 1 can (13.5oz) coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • unsalted butter for greasing the pan

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F

  2. Grease baking pan, follow the instruction of how to thaw the rolls in the back of the roll’s bag.

  3. Add coconut milk and the sugar in the pot and bring it to a boil. Mix cornstarch with water adds it to coconut milk. Keep whisking until thick.

  4. Pour half of the coconut sauce to each side of the rolls. Bake for about 20-25 minutes.

  5. After the rolls are done, pour the rest of the coconut sauce evenly on the top of the rolls. Serve warm.

 

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