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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
- Preheat oven to 400 for the pie crust. Microwave milks for 2 minutes. Mix flour, sugar, coconut, and salt in a pot.
- Over medium or medium-low, add 1 c of milks to pot and stir until combined, then stir occasionally until slightly thickened.
- Add next 1 c of milks and stir occasionally until thickened.
- Roll out chilled pie crust, put in a pie pan, and bake for 11-15 minutes until golden brown, and then let cool completely.
- 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.
- Turn off heat, add butter and extracts and stir, and let sit until cool.
- 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
- Beat cream, sugar, and vanilla together for a few minutes until it turns into whipped cream (peaks hold).
- Meanwhile, toast coconut in dry pan over medium heat for 30-45 seconds until fragrant and light brown.
- Spread whipped cream over chilled pie.
- Sprinkle with cooled toasted coconut.