Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pie Party in Pictures

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 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 (recipe below). 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
2 eggs
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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 

Chocolate Soufflé Pie
From Matt Lewis' Chocolate Bar Cookbook

This is pure deep, dense indulgence, like a chocolate truffle shoved into a pie crust. Life changing? Yeah. Make it.

Pie crust
4 jumbo eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 oz dark (semisweet) chocolate, chopped
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream

The crust
  1. Prebaked Crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pie crust to a 12-inch circle. Transfer crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp edges. Prick crust all over with a fork. If you have time, freeze crust for 15 to 30 minutes; otherwise skip this step.
  3. Cover pie with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (you can use pennies, rice or dried beans for this). Bake for 15 minutes; remove foil and weights and bake until pale golden, 5 to 7 minutes more. Cool on rack until needed. 

The filling
  1. In a double boiler (ours is a ceramic bowl we like set over some low boiling water), add the chocolates, butter, and cream. Stir until smooth. Take the bowl off the water.
  2. Mix together the eggs, flour, sugar, vanilla, and salt in another bowl. Slowly whisk in the slightly cooled chocolate until evenly combined. 
  3. Pour into the pie crust. 
  4. Bake at 350 for around 50 minutes. Keep an eye on that crust. It might start getting a little brown on the edges. If it does, make a collar for it out of aluminum foil (foil folded into a bandanna, then wrapped around the pie plate and over the crust edge)
  5. Let it cool some, before eating, or you will burn your mouth!


Any great pie recipes? please share by commenting below!


  1. Your pie party looks like so much fun! Thanks for including our pie post in your roundup. PieLove.

  2. Ooh, wish I had known! Love pies and parties.

  3. Tagan:

    I would LOVE to come to a pie party. Sounds like a dream come true! Please let me know when you will be having another...I am actually in teh VERY preliminary stages of starting a small baking business with a similarly food-obsessed friend. Would love to pick your brain!

  4. cool Sabrina! that is great!!! would be happy to talk. email me or give me a call. evenings after 5pm are good. so excited that you are following your dream!

  5. Tagan, this looks like such fun! We are loving California but a pie party would definitely be reason to come back to New Haven for a visit.