The making of the coconut cream pie
Around Valentines day we were in need of a little love from our friends and some winter warmth and treats from the oven. Inspired by a party my sister threw a number of years ago we decided to have a pie party. Yup, pie, all pie, only pie, lots and lots of pie. Each guest was asked to bring a homemade pie of any sort; sweet, savory, big, small, anything they could think of.
Our fabulous friends brought some great pies: pear ginger, pear blackberry ginger with corn meal crust, lemon curd and raspberry, leek and mustard, apple, cherry with nut crust, avocado cream with cilantro, vegetable pot pie, a zucchini, a spinach, and an onion pie, and a New Haven pie party just wouldn't be complete without some of our famous pizza pies. I went a little crazy and made five pies for our family: coconut cream pie for me (I've never had one and it is one of those fabulous sounding pies that I have always dreamed of), apple strawberry for my boy, chocolate souffle for my girl (the only sweet she likes is chocolate), raspberry rhubarb, and a mushroom and green onion quiche (just to make sure there were enough savory options).
clockwise from top left: apple strawberry, raspberry rhubarb, coconut cream pie, chocolate souffle
I read up on a dozen coconut cream pie recipes to find a good one. I checked out recipes and comments for each recipe and figured out how to make adjustments to improve it based on those comments. I took a classic coconut custard but replaced half the milk with coconut milk, used 1/3 cup cornstarch instead of flour, and unsweetened coconut and topped it with pure whipped cream and toasted coconut curls. Inspired by a photo of an amazing coconut cream pie from a famed restaurant in Texas, I brushed the crust with chocolate to keep it from getting soggy (see photo at top). I also came across this great blog post on thepeche.com from a family in NYC who started documenting their cooking adventures. The amazing chocolate souffle pie a la The Chocolate Bar, was from their month of pies posts, and it was gone almost as soon as it came out of the oven. The apple strawberry pie was my six year old boy's pick (he made it up for a pie party we had a year or so ago). The rhubarb I had forgotten that I had in my freezer, saved form last summer, so when I found it, I had to do something fun with that too! My favorite pie crust recipe can be found here, and you can get creative and add any kind of filling you like! I also came across an incredibly inspiring post from cookbook author and NY Times food writer, Melissa Clark, definitely worth a read!
It was a very fun and very filling night. I think we'll have to do it again in the height of summer fruit season!
My Favorite Coconut Cream Pie
1 ½ cups milk
1 ½ cups coconut milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups fresh whipped cream, lightly sweetened
coconut curls – toasted for garnish
1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked - (perfect pie dough recipe)
4 ounces chocolate, melted
- Brush melted chocolate on inside of baked and cooled pie crust. This helps to keep the crust from becoming soggy when filled with custard. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, combine milk, coconut milk, eggs, sugar, corn starch and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in the shredded coconut and the vanilla extract. Cool and pour into pie shell and chill 2 to 4 hours, or until firm.
- Top with whipped cream, and toasted coconut curls or flakes.
Note: To toast coconut, spread it in an ungreased pan and bake in a 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.