Tag Archives: coconut

Coconut cream pie

13 Dec

It’s been a little while since I made a pie, and I love pie!  In an unusual fit of activity last week I bought a bag of coconut, a can of mandarin oranges, and a can of pineapple and made ambrosia (yum).  I had some leftover coconut, so decided to make a coconut cream pie.  Growing up I never had dried shredded sweetened/unsweetened coconut and I still find the texture a bit strange, but I have fallen in love with coconut macaroons [wow I can’t believe I haven’t blogged those!  That’s on the list now] and am coming around to having a twiggy texture in my sweets.


This is vaguely tropical, so I bet it’s a PIErate’s favorite dessert.

Coconut cream pie is a basic custard pie: you bake a pie crust (I love the make-in-pan lazy one but I actually rolled and chilled one for this pie), slowly make a creamy set custard to fill it, and top the whole thing with whipped cream.  Next time I think I’ll make this a banana cream pie instead of coconut, just omitting the coconut and tossing in sliced bananas.  And by next time I mean tonight.  And by tonight I mean I paused writing this blog post, went and bought some whipping cream and milk, and then made this pie before continuing the post.

First you want to make the crust (or buy a store bought one as I often do).  I use a food processor to pulse together very cold butter with flour and salt.  Probably don’t use frozen butter because your food processor isn’t that strong, but fridge butter is great.  Do that (or use two knives or a pastry blender) until it’s pretty well mixed and your remaining bits of butter are maximum 2-3 pea sized.  Then drop in a tablespoon of ice water and press the dough together with your hands just until it holds together.  It’s gonna get real crumbly in there, and try not to knead it too much- we want flaky pie crust, not gluey pie crust.  Wrap it up in plastic wrap and stuff it in the fridge.


If I saw one of the main characters of “Empire” throwing a piece of scrap paper in the trash, I’d just have to say “That’s the way the Cookie crumb-ples”

Fun “trick” for this- I add the ice water directly to the food processor, press a little bit, and then dump the whole thing onto a big piece of plastic wrap on my counter.  Minimize mess.  Then you can wrap it up in the plastic wrap (bonus- if the piece is big enough, you can use it later to roll out the dough!)


Are you feeling sad?  No need to be so dough-lful, pie is on its way!

While the dough chills, you can measure you all your ingredients for the filling.  Also preheat your oven.  Usually I’m a lazybones and avoid recipes like this, where you have to stir a lot/mind something on the stove, but I cooked dinner while making this pie and it was perfect.  First, microwave your milk (I did two minutes) and while that’s going, measure and mix your dry ingredients in a pot on the stove.


The best way to make your dreams come true as you reach for the stars… is the (coconut) milky way

We’re slowly incorporating sugar, milk, coconut milk, coconut, and flour together, adding a bit more at a time, until we have the texture we want.  Then at the end you stir in your egg yolks for richness and cook until everything is set.  This can actually take about as long as you want it to.  The first time I made this it was luscious and creamy and not a clump to be found in my custard, and it took about 35 minutes.  The second time (just now) it took maybe 15 and it’s a little lumpy but still delicious.

So mix your flour, coconut, sugar, and pinch of salt in the dry pot, then add 1/3 of the milk and stir over medium-low (35 minute method) or medium (15 minute method) until the flour has started cooking into the liquid and it’s a little bit thickened.  Then add 1/3 of the milk and stir stir stir again, until that’s thickened.  Finally add your third batch of milk and stir.  Each thickening takes 2-10 minutes depending on heat.

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I didn’t constantly stir, just every minute or so.  So once the pudding got started, I pulled out the chilled dough and rolled it out thinly between two sheets of plastic wrap (this is not necessary; it just makes it so you don’t have to wash the rolling pin and counter).  Lay it into your pie tin, poke a few fork holes in it so it doesn’t puff up, and toss it in your preheated oven.

Once the third thickening has happened, add a little of the hot pudding to some beaten egg yolks so that they don’t curdle when you put their eggy deliciousness into the custard, and cook for another couple minutes until you’re juuuuust about to bubble/boil (but don’t boil, ever!).  Turn off the heat, dump in half a stick of butter and some extracts (this is the key to flavor), and let cool.  Pull your pie crust and let it cool too.  Should take 20-30 minutes depending on how hot your kitchen is for both things to cool off enough to put one inside the other, and then stick it in the fridge.


We can see the inside of this pie; it’s naked!  Oh the improPIEty!

After a few hours, make some whipped cream (I won’t tell if you use the ready made stuff, but the homemade stuff is GOOD) with a little sugar and vanilla in it, and put it on your chilled custard.  Chill again, overnight is best.  Toast some coconut in a dry pan on the stove for 30 seconds or so (til brown and fragrant), let cool, and decorate your pie with it.  Or don’t!


I’m not so great with speeches but I would definitely call myself a toastmaster.




Here I am eating it out of the pan for breakfast.  Because I’m pregnant?  Or because it’s pie?


Coconut cream pie, adapted from Rock Recipes:


1/2 c (1 stick) butter

1 1/4 c flour

2-4 TB ice water

Using a pastry blender, two knives, or a food processor, cut butter into flour until pebbly and well mixed.  Add ice water 1 TB at a time just until the dough holds when you push it together with your hands.  Knead once or twice (just to hold together), wrap in plastic wrap, and chill.


1 can coconut milk (1 3/4 c), light if you want

1 1/4 c whole milk

1/3 c flour

2/3 c sugar

1 c unsweetened dried shredded coconut

1/4 tsp salt

3 egg yolks

4 TB (1/2 stick) butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp ALMOND extract

  1. Preheat oven to 400 for the pie crust.  Microwave milks for 2 minutes.  Mix flour, sugar, coconut, and salt in a pot.
  2. Over medium or medium-low, add 1 c of milks to pot and stir until combined, then stir occasionally  until slightly thickened.
  3. Add next 1 c of milks and stir occasionally until thickened.
  4. Roll out chilled pie crust, put in a pie pan, and bake for 11-15 minutes until golden brown, and then let cool completely.
  5. Repeat step 3.  In between stirrings, lightly beat the egg yolks, measure out the butter and extracts.  Add 1/4-1/2 c of hot pudding to the egg yolks (whatever measuring cup is handy) and stir, then add the egg yolk mixture to the pudding and cook for another few minutes until pudding-like.
  6. Turn off heat, add butter and extracts and stir, and let sit until cool.
  7. Put cool custard into cool pie crust and put into fridge for several hours

Whipped cream and topping:

1 c heavy whipping cream

2 TB powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 c shredded coconut

  1. Beat cream, sugar, and vanilla together for a few minutes until it turns into whipped cream (peaks hold).
  2. Meanwhile, toast coconut in dry pan over medium heat for 30-45 seconds until fragrant and light brown.
  3. Spread whipped cream over chilled pie.
  4. Sprinkle with cooled toasted coconut.


19 Jan

I was walking through Trader Joe’s the other week and saw a flat package wrapped in opaque wax paper labeled “Almond Kringle.  From Wisconsin!  Limited Quantities available!”  You may know that I love almond everything.  Side story: I love the almond soap they have on Amtrak trains.  A lot.  So much that I tweeted once about how much I love it and where could I find some?  And Amtrak tweeted back to me, and I ended up getting a bottle of soap that doesn’t have a flat bottom (it screws in to the train) so I can’t use it unless I empty the soap into another container.  And it was great.

Also, I’m from Minnesota, so if I run into something in Texas that says “from the midwest!” I’ll buy it (also I am a sucker).  And “Limited quantities available,” because I am a sucker, means that I’ll buy it.  All the ingredients were in place for me to get this magical, amazing delicious experience (I’m not the only one who feels this way).  After getting home and taking a bite of the oval shaped pastry that came out of the mystery bag, I laughed and couldn’t stop laughing for five minutes.  My husband had a bite, and then we both texted all the people we knew from Wisconsin and told them that while we loved them, they are not the best thing to come from Wisconsin.

After we polished off our TJ’s Kringle in three days (it’s a bit over a pound, and contains at least one pound of butter), I decided to try to make my own.  The official recipe will have you use just over a pound of butter and take three days to make all the layers.  But there are plenty of homemade ones out there that do not take three days or tons of rolling, and that’s what I did.  You can stuff kringles with anything, but the TJ’s one was filled with marzipan (yum) and I did a coconut and almond filling for mine.  Many recipes were just butterscotch (butter + sugar).

I also was still in a bit of a funk when I decided to impulse make the kringle, so no ingredient photos.  The dough and recipe is super simple, but this was my first time making a filled pastry so I did a bad job (who knew you have to actually close it all the way, or the filling all falls out?!)


Dough or dough not, there is no try

The dough was just cutting butter into flour, then adding in yogurt (the recipe called for sour cream, but I use yogurt as a substitute for most white goops like mayo, sour cream, and sometimes butter/margarine/shortening).   The dough is VERY STICKY.


Though if you want a doughnut this is not the recipe for you

Wrap it up in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for a while (all day is great, or overnight).  Meanwhile you can put together the filling, which is another cup of butter beaten with brown sugar and shredded coconut and almond pieces.  I put my coconut in a dry pan on the stove for a few minutes, until lightly brown and toasty.  I also used sweetened shredded coconut, unsweetened flaked would also be fine.


Happy MLK Day! You could also think of social justice once a week all day, perhaps AllMond ays?

Now you split the dough into two halves, and leave one in the fridge while you roll out the other on a very floured surface (remember, sticky) until very, very thin.  Far thinner than expected for a person who’s never made a filled pastry before.


I had some friends over while I made this kringle and we were watching Clueless and at this point I kept saying I was ‘rollin with my homies.’ Actually this isn’t true because I don’t have friends to watch Clueless with while baking.

Filling goes in one long line down the middle.  If you want to make two separate danishes, like lines, then stop before the ends so you can tuck down the top.  I put my two halves together so spread the filling pretty far to the ends.


If baking was Hollywood we’d celebrate avant garde fil(ling)makers

The recipe called for some fancy cutting and braiding, but didn’t have pictures.  I attempted this on the first half and then all the filling went out through the holes.  So, good luck to you if you decide to go the braided danish route- check for seals in your dough!  Instead, I recommend just folding the two sides over and making a less beautiful but more structurally sound tube of dough.


Kringles at TJ’s come from O&H bakery in Racine, Wisconsin. The other option besides the O is an H shape. This is not true.

See all the holes in my kringle above?  Don’t do that.  But do make two tubes and tuck them together to make the beautiful wreath shape of the kringle.  Bake at 375 until golden brown and it smells SO GOOD and it’s SO GOOD.  Even if it doesn’t turn out beautiful.


Easy coconut-almond kringle, adapted from Taste of Home

2 c flour

1 lb (4 sticks) butter

1 c full-fat plain yogurt (or sour cream)

1 c brown sugar

2 c sliced almonds

2 c shredded coconut, toasted

Cut 1 c (2 sticks) butter into the flour, until you have pea-sized chunks or smaller of butter.  Mix in the yogurt well, until you have very sticky dough.  Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate all day or overnight or at least a few hours.

Beat the brown sugar with the remaining cup of butter.  Toast the almonds and coconut by putting each in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring lightly a few times, until they smell yummy and look lightly brown/toasty.  Mix the almonds and coconut (or whatever filling of nuts/fruits you want here) in with the butter and brown sugar mix.

Split the chilled dough into two halves.  Preheat oven to 375.  Roll out dough very thin into a rough rectangle, then put one half of the filling in one straight line down the middle of the dough.  Either cut and braid the outsides in, or fold them over.  Do so with both halves, then push the halves together into an oval shape on a baking sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes, until lightly browned.

I am [not a] bro (sia)

5 Dec

The first time I had ambrosia was in my college’s dining hall salad bar, senior year.  I saw the label “ambrosia” and noticed mandarin oranges, so I grabbed a scoop.  FOOD OF THE GODS.  Who knew mini marshmallows, mandarin oranges, pineapple, and coconut went so well together with whipped cream?

Since I’m sometimes interested in health (or since I always dislike the idea of cool whip and sometimes dislike the idea of washing my mixing bowl and beater), I used full-fat yogurt + honey + vanilla instead of whipped cream.  Honey makes everything better!  The tang of yogurt + honey really complements the pineapple and sweetness of everything else.  I also added some green grapes and toasted pecans for color and texture.

I had to make an extra broceries trip since I don't usually have mini marshmallows in my house

I had to make an extra broceries trip since I don’t usually have mini marshmallows in my house

This is one of those cut up everything, mix, and let sit sort of “salads”.  More like a dessert which happens to live in the salad bar.

The bodega downstairs is called Go Grocer, but only men seem to work there so my friend calls it Bro Grocer

The bodega downstairs is called Go Grocer, but only men seem to work there so my friend calls it Bro Grocer

I wish I could tell you how to cut pineapple.  If I wasn’t operating on such sleep debt I would have looked up several links/researched, then taken step by step photos of the process.  But instead I just hacked at the pineapple and tried to cut out the eyes using a paring knife, which didn’t work great.  The point is, you need your pineapple in bite size chunks.  Canned pineapple would also work, but theoretically fresh will be better (because it’s not soaked in syrup).

I wonder if the star of The Pianist was in a frat.  They'd call him Adrian BROdy.  Oh they already call him that.

I wonder if the star of The Pianist was in a frat. They’d call him Adrian BROdy. Oh they already call him that.

My husband prefers ambrosia without pecans- I’ve made it three times since having the baby, with/without grapes and with/without pecans.  I like the nuttiness that helps weigh down the salad, but that also keeps it from tasting like angels are breathing into your mouth, which is maybe the point of ambrosia.  If you opt for pecans, chop em up and throw them into a frying pan on medium heat for a few minutes.  I left them for as long as it took me to cut the pineapple and grapes.  You can tell when they’re done because they’ll start smelling toasty and nutty and yummy.

According to urban dictionary, I am not a bronut- I am not your friend willing to share my donut.  Nor am I a crazy friend.

According to urban dictionary, I am not a bronut- I am not your friend willing to share my donut. Nor am I a crazy friend.

So you’ve got half a pineapple, a big handful of grapes, a handful of pecans, about a cup of mini marshmallows, a can of mandarin oranges, and a cup of shredded sweetened coconut tossed together in a bowl.  Now stir up your yogurt + honey + vanilla, and toss the whole thing with the dressing.  Let sit for at least an hour for the flavors to meld, and enjoy.  I think it’s better if you let it sit overnight so the marshmallows and coconut melt a little bit due to the acidity of the pineapple.


If these captions aren’t enough I can just tell you straight up I know zero about bro culture.


Health-conscious frat guys love their brogurt!

This dish just bros me away

This dish just bros me away

Ambrosia- cobbled together from the internet

1/2 fresh pineapple or a can of pineapple

1 c mini marshmallows

1 c green grapes, halved

1 c shredded sweetened coconut

1 c pecans

1 can mandarin oranges

3/4 c plain yogurt

1 TB honey

1 tsp vanilla

Toast pecans in a frying pan over medium heat until fragrant, maybe five minutes while you cut up the pineapple and grapes.  Mix yogurt, honey, and vanilla in a small bowl.  Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss.  Leave in fridge for at least an hour, preferably 6-8 or more.


On failure, also coconut chocolate chip cookies

2 May

Lately I’ve been thinking about failure a lot.  I have my prelims coming up in a few weeks, and I’ve been anxious and fretful about failing them.  Nothing bad really happens if I fail them.  I’ll just have to study for them again, though that’s annoying- weeks spent trying to remember/relearn all the math I’m expected to know for a three hour exam (or two).  The harder thing, harder than restudying and relearning (which is sort of fun), would be knowing that I failed.  That there was an expectation for me, a line to cross to prove that I’ll be an okay mathematician, and I fell short of it.  That I should have been able to do something, but I didn’t because I’m not quite good enough.

This is pretty terrifying and terrible and there’s all sorts of stuff written out there about math anxiety.  But here’s the thing: math is always like this.  There’s always a quiz, or a homework problem, or a few minutes in a lecture, or a paper that you feel like you just don’t and can’t understand.  Part of what’s so beautiful about math is that it’s really hard.  And part of throwing yourself into your work (baking or math or whatever you do) is letting go of the fear that you won’t be good enough, that it’s too hard, that you aren’t up to the challenge.

I bring this up because I made these coconut chocolate chip cookies just now and they’re almost inedible.  Food blogs and TV shows always have pictures of gorgeous food but most food doesn’t look like that.  In fact, if you bake cookies often, I bet you have had this happen:



The cookies are flat, there’s big holes where the unincorporated baking soda lifted out of the cookie, there’s not enough flour to hold them together, and the edges taste like scrambled eggs (it’s gross).  I bet one of these things has happened to you before, or you don’t bake, or you are lying, or you are my friend Edward.

But I did everything right!  Not really: I added coffee, and I didn’t incorporate my baking powder.  Up to the very end the cookies looked like they’d be okay:

Nut another pun... these drive me coconuts!

Nut another pun… these drive me coconuts!

Gotta put this dough in the oven before i eat it all

Gotta put this dough in the oven before i eat it all

And then they come out and they’re awful.


I failed at these cookies.  I fail at math sometimes.  I am not a failure of a person, and while I enjoy baking and math, being great at either of them does not define me as a person.  In fact, being infallible at both of them would define me as a not-person and you should check me for robot parts.  Speaking of segues, an old friend of mine has a wonderful post about failure, and here’s a quote from it:

“There’s a simple reason why tackling a hard problem can lead to depressive symptoms: you’re necessarily wrong 99% of the time.”

A few days ago a great blog post showed up on slate about being bad at math [disclaimer: this guy was at school with me.  Again this disclaimer makes no sense/is irrelevant because I didn’t know him].  A great quote from it:

“Mathematical failure – much like romantic failure – leaves us raw and vulnerable. It demands excuses.”

The humidity was off, my oven doesn’t work well, the baking soda is old: excuses in baking, perhaps, sound more rational when written than excuses in math (this is too hard, I hate math, I’m too stupid for this).  But they’re still excuses, which are what we make when we fail.

I’m human, I make mistakes, I fail sometimes.  I make excuses.  But I try to learn from my mistakes, and I’m going to make cookies again, and I’m going to keep doing math, and I’m going to fail again (hopefully not in a few weeks).  And this is all okay.  This is life!  This is why this blog is about baking and math!


Recipe (follow it but don’t do the step that I point out) [taken from taste of home]:


1 c flour

1/2 tsp baking soda


1 stick butter

3/4 c white sugar

Then beat in:

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla


Mix your dry and wet ingredients.  This delicious stuff is batter starter.  Add anything to it, but I added:

1 c chocolate chips

1/2 c shredded coconut

1/2 c walnuts

Drop by tablespoons onto your silpat or parchment paper or greased baking sheet, and bake at 375 (NOT 350) for 10 minutes.

Gluten free egg free coconut-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies

4 Apr

I moderated a panel on Work-Life balance yesterday, so when I got home I thought I’d make some cookies.  (Yes, that is the reasoning.)  One of the professors eats gluten-free, so these are made with coconut flour.  I didn’t have any eggs and i was too lazy to go to the store, so these are also egg free and made with flax.

Hey ya!  The kast of characters.  If I put them outside, I could call them the Outkast.

Hey ya! The kast of characters. If I put them outside, I could call them the Outkast.

Then just for funsies I threw in some ginger too.  KEY TIP for when you’re baking egg free: the flaxseed takes awhile to react with the water.  I’ve seen various ratios (the Bob’s Red Mill says 3 TB water to 1 TB flaxseed) but I use 2 TB of water and 1 Tb of flaxseed.  Just stir them up (I ended up using 3 of these, one for each egg) and let it sit for 5-10 minutes while you do the other stuff.

In the kitchen, where I spend most of my days, chillin out, flaxing, relaxing all cool, and all mixing some fake eggs outside of school

In the kitchen, where I spend most of my days, chillin out, flaxing, relaxing all cool, and all mixing some fake eggs outside of school

Meanwhile you can mix up your coconut flour with baking soda and baking powder and ginger.  I didn’t use salt this time because there’s salt in the butter.

I'm cuckoo for coco-nut flour- Sonny's separated from birth twin, who became a baker and contributed to society unlike his bum friend.

I’m cuckoo for coco-nut flour- Sonny’s separated from birth twin, who became a baker and contributed to society unlike his bum friend.

Then cream your stick of butter with 1/3 c of sugar and some vanilla.  Another KEY TIP: don’t microwave your butter for 15 seconds to soften it.  Just don’t do it.  Maybe 8-10 seconds will work.

There are neither peanuts nor chocolate in this picture, but there are definitely some butterfingers

There are neither peanuts nor chocolate in this picture, but there are definitely some butterfingers

Then stir in your thickened flaxseed mix.  Don’t be afraid if this is super watery- coconut flour absorbs all.

Nonpun caption: the flaxseed almost makes a vector field diagram

Nonpun caption: the flaxseed almost makes a vector field diagram

Then mix in your coconut flour, some oats, and a handful of chocolate chips.  The coconut flour will just absorb all of that liquid.  To be safe, I added a few tablespoons of water until it was more of a normal cookie dough texture.  You really have to be a bit careful with coconut flour.

Bake bake bake, bake bake bake, bake your coooookie.  Bake your cookie!  (apparently there are other lyrics to that song too.  who knew?)

Bake bake bake, bake bake bake, bake your coooookie. Bake your cookie! (apparently there are other lyrics to that song too. who knew?)

Again because of the flour, these cookies don’t spread or change shape much when baking, so I recommend (as did the original recipe) pressing down on each cookie lightly:

Patty-cookie, patty-cookie, bakers man.  Bake me a cookie as fast as you can.  That's all of that song that I know.

Patty-cookie, patty-cookie, bakers man. Bake me a cookie as fast as you can. That’s all of that song that I know.

Bake until lightly browned.  The texture is OUT OF THIS WORLD.  It’s so different from other cookies: almost cakey, crumbly like a scone but still moist, with coconut flavor and a teensy hint of ginger.  The flaxseed makes it seem healthy too.  Did you know oats have protein?

2013-04-03 20.29.02

Adapted from a recipe here: http://purelytwins.com/2012/10/22/perfect-soft-thick-coconut-flour-chocolate-chip-cookies/


3 TB ground flaxseed

6 TB water

and let sit.  Meanwhile, whisk:

2/3 c coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ginger

Separately, stir:

1 stick (1/4 c) softened butter

1/3 c white sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Then add your flaxseed to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Dump in your dry ingredients and mix.  Add in:

2/3 c oats

1/2 c chocolate chips.

Now mix the batter: it will be thick!  This next part is subjective and changes due to weather, humidity, how old your flour is, etc.  But stir in

1-4 TB water

until your batter feels like cookie dough.

Drop by TB onto a cookie sheet, and bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let cool on the pan rather than on a wire rack because these babies will fall apart.

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