This is probably the first recipe that I made that my husband went on and on and on about. He said that it was the best Coconut Cream Pie that he's ever tasted. I've been told that it's better than any pie you can buy anywhere, by more than a few people. It was one of the first recipes to make it into our exclusive Family Recipe Book, and it's one that I'm requested to make as often as possible. What I'm trying to say is that this pie is AMAZING! It's just thick enough, so it holds its shape nicely when cut; but it's still velvety smooth with a nice coconut flavor. The creamy coconut custard is nicely complemented by the lightly sweetened whipped cream and the crunchy, toasted coconut on top and the flaky pie crust on the bottom. It was inspired by Alton Brown and his Banana Pudding recipes, but it in no way resembles them. Those recipes just inspired me and I played around with the ingredients and came up with my now "famous" Coconut Cream Pie.
Our church recently had a talent show, and the desserts provided were representations of the talented bakers in the ward. My first thought was that I should make my Coconut Cream Pie. I debated bringing an easier to eat dessert, like cookies, brownies or cupcakes, but common sense won out. If I'm showing my "talent" through my dessert, it has to be this pie.
It's easy to put together, but it does take a little patience.
First step, heat up your oven and bake off a 9 inch deep dish pie crust. Sometimes I use a homemade crust, but more often than not these days I use the Marie Callendar's frozen pie shells. (I swear, one of these days I will post my pie crust recipe.) I pricked it all over with a fork, and then baked it @ 400 for about 12 minutes, until golden brown.
While the oven is hot, you might as well toast up the coconut for the top of the pie. Turn down the oven to 350F. Spread some sweetened, shredded or flaked coconut onto a baking sheet (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup).
After just a minute, start checking on it. It goes from toasty to burnt in a flash!!
Stir it around with a spatula, so the toasted shreds on the outside will mix in with the non-toasted shreds on the inside.
After about 5 minutes, most of the coconut should be a nice golden color. Don't wait for all of them to be toasty, because then half of them will be burnt!
We are done with the oven now. :) Let's move to the stove top.
In a medium sauce pan, add 3/4 cups sugar.
To the sugar, add 1/3 cup cornstarch.
Whisk to combine. (I love my silicone whisk! My mom-in-law bought it for me, so that I don't have to worry about scratching up my pans. Kitchen gifts are usually the safest bet for me. Thanks Barb!)
Add a dash of salt (about 1/4 tsp)
Separate 3 eggs. We only want the yolks for this recipe.
The whites I'll save for something later - maybe my Coconut Macaroons!
The yolks can go straight into the pan.
Next comes the coconut milk. Any brand will do.
The whole can goes in,
and then goes in the cream.
Everything is whisked together, and the heat is turned on to medium.
This is where your patients will need to come in. It will take a few minutes for the pudding/custard to thicken up. And you should whisk it constantly, so that the eggs don't scramble.
Keep stirring, you're almost there. (It's been about 5 minutes) The mixture is bubbling now.
After the mixture bubbles for 3 minutes, turn off the heat. It is nice and thick now.
See? Silky smooth; thick and creamy.
The next step is to pour the custard into a fine mesh strainer, over a mixing bowl.
Add a little vanilla (and a little coconut extract if you want it extra coconut-y, but it's not necessary).
Now, use a rubber spatula and stir the vanilla in while you press the custard through the strainer.
Keep pressing to get all of the custard through. This is to ensure that there are no pieces of cooked egg left behind.
I left my custard unattended for a couple minutes to deal with my angels, so I have a few egg chunks. - This is why we strain.
Don't forget to scape off all the custard off the bottom of the strainer.
Now we're going to add some more coconut flavor, in the way of some sweetened, shredded or flaked coconut. This is the same stuff we used to toast up in the beginning. This is the kind we like, but it's also the most expensive. Use what you have. - I'm sure it will be fine. I've used other brands in the past without any discernible difference.
1 cup goes in.
Mix it thoroughly to combine.
Then take a large piece of plastic wrap and press it down right on top of the custard. This will prevent it from getting a "skin" on it later.
Just completely cover the top. It goes into the fridge to cool. (In the past I have just poured the hot custard into the pie crust, but I find that the crust stays flakier if you wait to put everything together until the end.)
After at least 2 hours - when the custard is completely cool and set up, you can scoop it out into the cooked and cooled pie shell.
Even it out.
Then it gets completely covered with whipped cream. I like my pies to be "diner high,"so I really pile it on. (I use about 1 1/4 to 1/2 cups cream with about 3 Tbsp powdered sugar, and whip until stiff peaks form.)
After the cream is spread out to the edges, but still with a peak in the center, the toasted coconut is sprinkled on top.
When it's all covered it looks like this: Isn't it beautiful? This is the pie I took to the talent show, so I didn't get to cut a piece to show you how pretty it is on the inside, but trust me. A piece looks just a pretty, if not more so, sitting on a plate.
Coconut Cream Pie
1 9 inch, deep dish pie shell, baked
3/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
3 large egg yolks
1 can (1 3/4 cup) unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/4 cup cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coconut extract (optional)
1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
sweetened whipped cream (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups whipped cream with about 3 Tbsp powdered sugar - to taste)
1/2 to 3/4 cup sweetened, flaked coconut, toasted
Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks, coconut milk and cream in a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil for about 3 minutes, until thick. Take off the heat and add the vanilla (and coconut extract if using). Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer, and stir in the 1 cup flaked coconut. Cover with plastic wrap and cool for a couple hours. When the custard is cool and set, scoop it out into the pre-baked pie shell and spread it out evenly. Top with the sweetened whipped cream, creating a peak in the center of the pie (more whipped cream in the middle than around the edges). Cover completely with the toasted flaked coconut. Serve cold.