Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Coconut Cream Pie

It's hard these days to find a decent coconut cream pie. It used to be, when I was younger, back in the *cough* 60's & 70's *cough* coconut cream was a staple of restaurants and diners everywhere. Those were back in the days when food was made on site, not in some giant factory, flash frozen and sent out, en masse to everywhere and everyone. Don't you find that today everything tastes the same? And the taste is fake and well....tasteless? And we won't even start on the ingredient lists! Maybe because I cook the majority of my own food, I haven't lost the sense of good wholesome food. 

OK, so desserts aren't really wholesome, but when made from scratch, with decent ingredients and things you can pronounce, it's a better choice than eating a bunch of chemicals.  

When I asked Jim one time if he had any requests for dessert, this is what he wanted. Don't be intimidated -  it's super easy! If you've ever made a lemon meringue pie before, the method is a bit similar. Just get all of your ingredients measured and ready before you start and it will all come together, stress free.  

Coconut Cream Pie

1 (10-inch) baked pie shell (recipe follows)

3-4 tbsp. flaked or shredded coconut
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (do not use low-fat)
    (this measure will be almost an entire can)
1 1/2 cups milk 
4 tbsp. cornstarch
5 egg yolks (use the whites for an omelette)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups flaked, unsweetened coconut
½ - 1 tsp. coconut extract  
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon margarine

½ pint whipping cream

1-2 tbsp. powdered sugar

Pie Crust: - 1 1/3 cups unbleached flour

                   ½ tsp. salt 
                   ½ cup shortening
                   4-6 tbsp. cold water

(When making your pie crust, make sure that your shortening is cold and that you use very cold water. Before I even start, I put some ice cubes and cold water in a glass, that way, when I need to add it to the flour mixture in the bowl, I know it's super chilly.)

Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender until the shortening is the size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and just holds together. You don't want the mixture to be wet. And do not overwork the pastry or it will become tough. Pastry should be light and flaky. Shape dough into a ball, flatten slightly and wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so, or if in a rush, you can roll it out right away (so long as your shortening and water were super cold to begin with*). Roll into a circle about 1 or 2 inches larger than your pie plate. To get the pastry safely into the pie plate, fold it in half, then in half again. Place the point of the the folds into the center of the plate and carefully unfold. Trim the edge and if you're inclined, make a fancy fluted edge or use extra dough for cut-outs to place around the rim. Moisten with water so the cut-outs stick and stay in place.           

* For more tips on making a flaky crust, check out good ol' Betty Crocker.

Bake your pastry blind. Not sure what that is? Instructions can be found here.  I use the method that covers the crust with parchment and add weights to keep the crust from forming air pockets. My weights are some dried chickpeas that I've used over and over again. Just make sure you keep them separate from beans that you may actually want to soak and cook! Keep an eye to your crust and if the edge is starting to brown too much, cover it with foil strips. Allow the crust to cool completely before you add the filling.

While your oven is still hot, toss 3-4 tbsp. of coconut into an oven proof pan. A small cake tin is what I usually use. Set this in your oven to toast the coconut. Stir occasionally and watch it carefully! Coconut toasts very quickly and burns very easily. When it looks nicely browned, remove from oven and allow to cool.

To make filling:- In a medium-large saucepan, combine sugar, coconut milk, and 1 cup milk. Place over medium heat and scald the mixture.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk egg yolks with salt. Temper yolks by adding 1/2 cup scaled milk mixture to yolks, whisking while you do this so the hot mixture doesn't cook the egg yolk. Whisk well until all incorporated.  Add yolk mixture and milk-cornstarch mixture back into the pot and whisk over medium heat until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add coconut, coconut extract, vanilla, and margarine. If you're finding this a bit difficult to keep up with the whisk (my whisk get loaded down with the coconut) then switch to a spoon.

Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and press it down onto the surface of the custard to avoid getting a skin on the top. Place in the refrigerator and chill pie completely, about 2-3 hours

While you're waiting for the pie to cool, put the bowl you intend to use for making the whip cream and the wire whisk or beaters into the fridge. I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. The stainless steel bowl gets nice and cold. After the pie has cooled, it's time to make the whipped cream. 

Pour the entire half pint into the bowl and start whipping! As it's getting thick, sprinkle in the icing sugar. Continue whipping until it's nice and fluffly and holds it shape. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary. Spread the whipped cream over the entire surface of the pie. You can get artistic and make pretty, swirly designs if you like. Sprinkle the toasted coconut on top and pop the whole thing back into the fridge until you're ready to slice and serve.   

How flippin' good does that look? 


  1. Carrie, BEAUTIFUL pie! Unfortunately, my husband hates coconut. One of his few flaws. ;) Eat an extra slice for me!

    And I agree, about prepared food tasting boring. We hardly go out to eat any more, and are usually disappointed when we do! Bland, uninventive food is not my idea of a fun evening out!

  2. If this is the same charming pie that I was served at your place Carrie, then I'm going to pull down my skirt and make it!!!!! I love your blog, so glad I found you!!!!.
    For anyone reading this...This is the BEST FREAKING COCONUT PIE EVER.

  3. Thanks Christina! It is indeed the same pie. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.