For my birthday this year I decided to make a coconut cream pie. I was extremely looking forward to making my own birthday cake (originally I was looking for a cake recipe) since it meant I would have a great excuse to make something elaborate, only myself to please and I wouldn't feel bad eating a bunch of it. I was tempted by a brownie mosaic cheesecake on Smitten Kitchen that looked challenging and delicious, and an eight-layer chocolate peanut butter cake in Saveur. But I wasn't able to find a cake that really appealed to me (a sign that I need more baking books!) I knew I always wanted to make this coconut cream pie so I thought why bother searching for a random cake recipe - I should just make something I've wanted to make for years even if it's not as complicated as some of the cakes out there.
I saw Martha Stewart make this pie on some TV show I can't remember now. This was years ago, but I always remembered it. Probably because she puts this thin layer of chocolate on top of the crust before putting in the coconut custard. Mmm hidden chocolate layer. You might think it's a good idea to add extra chocolate and make the layer thicker (the more chocolate the better right?) Well I do not recommend it, as this is what I did. It made the crust really difficult to cut through. I was not at all thinking about how hard chocolate gets when it's sitting in the fridge. Ah well, it was delicious even though it was hard to bite through!
I don't think I heated the custard long enough because it wasn't very thick. I got really tired of waiting for little bubbles to come up, while also trying to avoid it boiling and burning. This was after I did something incredibly stupid that I don't even know why I did - I heated up an empty pot at medium-high heat on the stove, then poured the custard into it. WHY?? Why did I do this. I really have no idea since I know that it was not something I should've done. Thankfully only a little bit of the egg cooked and I was able to salvage most of it. The coconut custard had an interesting light but definite coconut flavour, versus other coconut cream pies I've tried which have a stronger and sweeter coconut taste. My mom described this pie as "fluff", which I know custard is not supposed to be but hey we all liked it.
I'm still a little bit scared of making crusts, but this one turned out well so my crust making confidence can increase! I made a full recipe and only needed half so I have the other half sitting in my freezer. Not sure what I should do with it but I would hate to throw it away. Maybe the earl grey white chocolate cream pie I created in my head?
I was really happy with how the coconut cream pie turned out and I would definitely make it again. All of the components were delicious and the chocolate layer added something extra (though next time it will be a much thinner layer of course).
Coconut Cream Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
makes one 9-inch pie
all-purpose flour, for dusting
1/2 recipe pâte brisée (recipe follows)
4 large egg yolks
3 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
coconut curls or shredded coconut, toasted**
1. Preheat oven to 375F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch round, a bit less than 1/4 inch thick. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim crust to a 1/2-inch overhang all around. Fold under overhang so it extends slightly beyond edge of pie plate. Crimp edge. Prick dough all over with a fork. Chill pie shell until firm, about 30 minutes.
2. Line chilled pie shell with a round of parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges of crust just turn golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove parchment and pie weights. Return crust to oven, and continue baking until golden all over 15 to 20 minutes more. Place pie shell on a wire rack to cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
3. Place coconut curls (or shredded coconut) on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. (Watch closely.) Set aside.
4. Prepare an ice bath; set aside. In a bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks; set aside. In a saucepan, whisk together coconut milk, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Bring to a simmer (do not boil), and cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Whisk a quarter of hot-milk mixture into egg yolks; whisk in remaining milk mixture. Strain into a clean saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until custard is thick and bubbles appear in center, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface to prevent a skin from forming. Set in ice bath until completely chilled, 30 to 35 minutes. (Filling can be kept in refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, up to 1 day.)
6. Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (do not let bowl touch the water), or in the microwave. Stir until smooth, and set aside until cool to touch, stirring occasionally.
7. Using a pastry brush, coat inside of cooled crust with melted chocolate. Place in refrigerator or freezer until firm to touch, about 10 minutes
8. Fill crust with coconut custard, spreading evenly with an offset spatula. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, combine cream and confectioners’ sugar; beat until soft peaks form. Using a small offset spatula, spread whipped cream on top of custard. Refrigerate pie at least 3 hours before serving. Garnish with toasted coconut curls and chocolate curls just before serving.
*Take a block/bar of chocolate and use a vegetable peeler to scrape off curls. I didn't heat the chocolate up at all beforehand but I think it helps to heat it up a tiny bit. Not enough so that it melts though, of course.
Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
makes enough for one double-crust or two single-crust 9-inch pies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed
1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender.)
2. With machine running, add ice water through feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
3. Turn out dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.