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Coconut Cream Pie

January 20, 2014

Last weekend I unexpectedly found myself in the middle of a very frustrating personal situation combined with no planned activities to keep myself distracted from obsessively ruminating on said situation. Solution? Baking. I’d already planned on making quiche that day, so without a plan in mind, I made a double recipe of pie crust and figured I’d come up with something to make with it by Sunday afternoon. I restricted my recipe options to “pies I can make without having to make another trip to the store in this awful weather,” which narrowed down my choices to one. This coconut cream pie in Bon Appetit Desserts. I think the first and last time I’d made a coconut cream pie was in high school (one of the homeschooling moms taught us all to make pies, maybe freshman year?), before I had the use of a food processor for crust. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you can probably tell by now how much I love my food processor… one of the best wedding registry choices we made, haha!

So I swapped out Bon Appetit’s crust in this recipe with Gourmet’s; I’ve made Gourmet’s crust many many times and I know I can always get consistent results. But if you have a favorite crust, feel free to swap that out too. It’s just your basic blind baked pie crust to start. The rest of the recipe was pretty easy, if a bit time consuming. If you’re familiar with making custard/tempering eggs, this is a piece of cake. If not, then this would be a good place to start! Basically you don’t want the eggs in your custard to scramble by heating them up too fast, so you whisk the hot milk into them a little bit at a time. This heats them up slowly and they don’t get all clumpy. For super smooth custards like creme brulee, often you’ll strain the custard, but this custard has flaked coconut all through it so it’s fairly forgiving.

The filling initially has to refrigerate for 2 hours to cool, then also in the crust overnight, so you can’t make this pie the day you’re planning on serving it. I was taking it to work on Monday, so making it Sunday evening worked fine; I just had to get up a little earlier on Monday morning to whip the cream for the topping. I thought this pie turned out really well, and it definitely perked some of my coworkers up too! Enjoy. :)

Coconut cream pie

Crust can be baked up to 1 day ahead; wrap with foil or plastic wrap and keep at room temperature. Pie can be fully assembled up to 4 hours ahead. Keep covered and refrigerated.

Serves 8

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1¼  cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4  stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2  tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 2  tablespoons sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Filling

  • 1/2  cup sugar
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1  large egg yolk
  • 3  tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½  cups whole milk
  • 1½  cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8  teaspoon coconut extract

Topping

  • 2/3  cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1¼  cups chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 2  tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8  teaspoon coconut extract

Directions

  1. For the crust: Blend together flour, butter, shortening, salt, and sugar in food processor (you can also use your fingers or a pastry blender) just until mixture resembles course meal with some small (roughly pea-sized) butter lumps. Drizzle 3 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture. Pulse (or gently stir with a fork) until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful of dough: if it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water 1/2 tablespoon at a time, pulsing (or stirring) until incorporated (do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough). Turn dough out onto a work surface. Divide dough into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together, press into a ball, and flatten into a 5-inch disk. If dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour. Wrap disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Fit into pie plate. Trim edges, leaving a ½-inch overhang. Fold overhang under and press against rim of pie plate, then crimp decoratively. Pierce bottom of crust all over with a fork. Freeze crust 15 minutes.
  3. Line crust with aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil. Bake until golden and set, about 10 minutes longer. Cool completely.
  4. For the filling: Whisk sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and flour in medium bowl. Bring milk and coconut to simmer in medium saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add hot milk mixture to egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return to same saucepan; cook until pastry cream thickens and boils, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in vanilla and coconut extracts. Transfer pastry cream to medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface to prevent skin from forming. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Transfer filling to crust; chill overnight.
  5. For the topping: Toast coconut in heavy small skillet over medium heat until light golden, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Cool completely. Using electric mixer, beat cream, sugar, and coconut extract together in medium bowl until peaks form. Spread whipped cream over top of filling. Sprinkle evenly with toasted coconut. Serve cold.

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