Coconut Custard Pie
Seriously, somebody take this pie away from me.
Bikini season is all but upon us, and the last thing I need to be doing is eating thick slices of custard pie.
That said, I had a request last week for one of these creamy little babies, and I couldn’t resist.
(I guess a sliver won’t hurt, right?)
So, this ain’t your average wedge from the highway diner. Made with coconut milk (most coconut custard pies are made with regular milk), flaked coconut, coconut extract, and toasted coconut, this pie is super creamy and ridiculously coconut-y. It got rave reviews.
Coconut milk vs. cream of coconut
Be sure to grab coconut milk for this recipe, not cream of coconut. Coconut milk is straight up coconut goodness. It’s made by simmering fresh, shredded coconut and water together, then straining. It’s thick and usually separates in the can (just shake it up).
Cream of coconut has sugar and can also have other ingredients added to it (think pina colada mix). I like Thai Kitchen brand coconut milk, which you can find in the Asian section of a lot of major grocery stores—or order online from Amazon.com. If you like coconut, it’s good stuff to have in the house.
Sweetened flaked coconut vs. unsweetened flaked coconut
I used sweetened, flaked coconut in this pie, because it’s honestly the easiest to find.
If you want to use unsweetened flaked coconut, increase the sugar to a cup, or even a little more.
An old-fashioned refrigerator pie
This pie is really easy to make. Just grab a pre-baked pie shell (homemade or frozen), whip up the custard, fill the pie shell, and slide her into the fridge for about 6 hours to set up.
Top with fresh whipped cream and toasted coconut before serving.
Next up, homemade pie crust
If you want to bust out your own crust at home, stay tuned for a primer on basic homemade pie crust next week.
Coconut Custard Pie
1 (9-inch) pie crust, pre-baked and cooled to room temp
2 3/4 cups coconut milk (NOT coconut cream)
5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
3 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
Heat the coconut milk
Put the coconut milk in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot. Set it on the stove over medium-high heat. Bring it just to a simmer.
Make the base for the custard
While you’re waiting for the coconut milk to heat up, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and salt together.
Toss in the cornstarch. (This, along with the egg yolks, are going to thicken your pie filling.)
Whisk until uniform. (This will take a minute, but the yolk mixture will absorb all the cornstarch.)
You’ll wind up with a thick, golden yellow mixture.
Temper the coconut milk into the yolk mixture
When the coconut milk just comes to a simmer, yank it off the stove. You’re going to temper the hot coconut milk into the yolk mixture. This raises the temperature of the egg yolks slowly and gently, which keeps it from turning into a pot of scrambled eggs.
Take a ladle of hot coconut milk. Drizzle it into the egg yolk mixture, whisking as you go to incorporate it.
Repeat until you’ve added most of the coconut milk, and your egg yolk mixture is hot and steamy.
Pour the hot egg yolk mixture back into the pot. Return it to the stove over medium-high heat, whisking constantly.
It will thicken considerably. Don’t walk away from the pot. Whisk it constantly.
The custard is done when it’s thick as warm pudding and reaches 165 – 170 degrees on a candy thermometer. (Eggs are cooked and safe to eat at 160 degrees.)
Strain the custard mixture
Remove the pot from the stove and strain the hot custard mixture into a large bowl. Don’t skip this step. It will catch any stray bits of cooked egg that may have managed to coagulate in the pot. You definitely don’t want those in your pie.
The mixture will be thick, so push it through the strainer with a rubber spatula.
Stir in the flaked coconut, vanilla extract, and coconut extract.
The mixture will be thick. (Like, stand-a-spoon-up-in-it thick.) Give it a taste. This is what your pie filling will taste like. Add a little more vanilla or coconut extract if you like.
Assemble and chill your pie
Pour the filling into your prepared pie shell (homemade or frozen). Smooth down the top.
Chill 4-6 hours to let the custard firm up. If you’re in a rush, you can *kind* of cheat by freezing it, but keep a good eye on it. Custard can get funky if you let it freeze solid and then thaw.
Garnish and serve
Put about a 1/2 cup of sweetened, flaked coconut in a dry, nonstick pan (no oil or butter). Saute over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and fragrant.
Again, don’t walk away from the pan. It can go from toasted to burned very quickly. When it’s done, remove from the pan and set aside on a plate to cool.
Whip the whipping cream and sugar together until it just forms stiff peaks.
Heap the whipped cream on top of your chilled pie.
Sprinkle generously with toasted coconut flakes.
And…voila! One coconut custard pie, a zillion times better than the diner down on Route 1.
Serve and enjoy!
Serve fat wedges with steaming cups of coffee or tea.
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