Coconut Cream Pie Recipe

Why It Works

  • Utilizing a combination of entire milk and full-fat coconut milk creates a luscious custard filling that’s filled with coconut taste.
  • A mixture of cornstarch and egg yolks helps to thicken the custard filling. 
  • Bringing the filling to a bubble deactivates the pure enzyme amylase present in yolks, making certain it would not flip the custard right into a soupy mess.

When requested to decide on between pie or cake, my reply is unequivocally pie. Although my favourite ones nearly at all times function ripe summer fruit, I do have a delicate spot for coconut cream pie. Full of a wealthy custard and topped with frivolously sweetened whipped cream and a sprinkling of toasted flaked coconut, every chew is aromatic, nutty, and a delight to eat. It’s a easy pie to make, too—with a blind-baked crust on the prepared, all it’s important to do is whisk collectively a custard filling, scrape it into your crust, and permit it to sit back till it’s set earlier than you high it with whipped cream and toasted coconut. 

Although it’s tough to hint the precise origins of coconut cream pie, there are recipes from the nineteenth century, just like the “cocoa-nut cream” in Mary Randolph’s 1824 e-book The Virginia Housewife and the “cocoa-nut pudding” in Eliza Leslie’s 1828 e-book Seventy-5 Receipts for Pastry, Desserts, and Sweetmeats, two creamy coconut confections that might have paved the best way for what we now know as coconut cream pie. Maybe the earliest iteration of an precise coconut pie is the “cocoa-nut pie” discovered within the 1843 e-book Mrs. Ellis’s Housekeeping Made Easy, which asks its readers to painstakingly grate their very own recent coconut for the dessert.

Severe Eats / Amanda Suarez

Due to the labor concerned, coconut desserts probably didn’t turn out to be fashionable in the USA till desiccated coconut grew to become extensively obtainable. In her e-book BraveTart, Severe Eats’ personal Stella Parks writes at size a couple of man named Franklin Baker who, along with his son Frank Jr., determined to desiccate coconut for resale on the flip of the 20th century. The “enterprise was such a rousing success,” she notes, “that they deserted their earlier careers to enter the ‘cocoanut commerce’ collectively.” When the Twenties rolled round, the Bakers started to promote their coconut merchandise with a recipe for a meringue-topped coconut cream pie—a dessert that, in line with Stella, was “the cat’s meow” all through the Roaring Twenties. Someplace alongside the best way, whipped cream ultimately changed the meringue.

The Greatest Dairy to Use for Coconut Cream Pie

Not like most of the coconut cream pie recipes at present, which name for making the custard with some mixture of dairy—normally milk, heavy cream, half-and-half, or evaporated milk—the Bakers’ pie used coconut milk completely for a extra pronounced coconut taste. For my coconut cream pie, I needed a filling that was luscious and had a transparent coconut taste with out being overly wealthy or candy. I examined a number of custards: one made completely with coconut milk, one made with a mixture of coconut milk and entire milk, and one other with coconut milk and half-and-half. 

Severe Eats / Amanda Suarez

Whereas the custard made with simply coconut milk tasted probably the most, effectively, coconutty, it was additionally probably the most one-dimensional of the three. The mix of coconut milk and half-and-half was scrumptious, however wasn’t exponentially extra flavorful than the custard made with coconut milk and entire milk. As a result of coconut milk’s pure fat already make it so wealthy, I didn’t check with heavy cream, particularly since I felt that the coconut milk and half-and-half combination already verged on being only a bit too creamy. The most effective custard was the mixture of coconut milk with entire milk, which produced a filling that had a distinguished however balanced coconut taste and completely silky texture.

Making and Thickening the Custard

The custard filling is, basically, a pastry cream: You mix your dairy (right here, a combination of entire milk and full-fat coconut milk) with sugar, salt, eggs, and starch, and prepare dinner it over the stovetop till totally thickened. As Kristina Razon wrote in her crème patissiere recipe, the success of your pastry cream will rely upon whether or not you sufficiently warmth your custard base, which depends on starch and eggs as its thickeners. Warmth jumpstarts the method of gelatinization; when heated to 175ºF (79ºC), the starch molecules start to swell and the egg proteins start to coagulate, thickening the pastry cream.

Now, you may assume that heating the custard to 175ºF could be sufficient to thicken the pastry cream. However yolks comprise an enzyme referred to as amylase, which might dissolve starch molecules over time and liquify your custard. “The answer to this downside,” wrote Kristina, “requires getting the pastry cream even hotter—to what we would describe as a ‘bubble,’ with the combination at a temperature simply shy of boiling. Holding the pastry cream at a bubble whereas whisking always for a minute or so deactivates the amylase in order that it’s not a risk to the construction of the custard.” Should you’ve ever made pastry cream and chilled it—solely to return to a soupy mess within the fridge—it’s probably you didn’t prepare dinner it lengthy sufficient and amylase received the perfect of you and your custard.

To beat amylase at its personal sport, we’re going to convey our coconut custard base to a bubble and whisk it always for a full minute to deactivate it. It might be tempting to stroll away, however whisking is crucial for a clean pastry cream, and the minute you cease whisking, you danger scorching your pastry cream. Toasted coconut is sweet, however no person needs coconut cream pie that tastes burned.

Sweetened vs. Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

There’s a motive why most coconut cream pie recipes name for sweetened shredded coconut blended into the custard: it’s exponentially extra flavorful than unsweetened coconut. As somebody who fears way-too-sweet desserts, although, I used to be curious to see if utilizing unsweetened coconut within the filling would assist mood a few of the pie’s sweetness.

Tasting the 2 fillings side-by-side, the custard with the sweetened coconut had a way more pronounced tropical, nutty taste, whereas the filling with the unsweetened coconut was flat. Even once I retested by growing the quantity of sugar within the custard, it nonetheless felt missing. For a balanced and flavorful filling, I used sweetened shredded coconut, seasoned the custard generously with salt, and was conscious of the quantity of sugar I included with the intention to management its total sweetness.

The Greatest Crust to Use for Coconut Cream Pie

As a result of the pie doesn’t require further baking after you’ve stuffed the crust with custard, it’s important to make use of a blind-baked pie crust. Right here, I’ve opted for Stella’s buttery, flaky pie crust, which will get its tenderness from a 1:1 ratio of butter to flour and, as a result of it’s made with all-purpose flour, has simply sufficient gluten to carry its form within the oven because it bakes. For extra recommendations on blind-baking, comply with Stella’s ideas and directions here.

Assembling and Chilling the Pie

Along with your filling made, the remainder is, shall I say… simple as pie? After the custard has cooled over an ice tub for half-hour, you’ll scrape it into your blind-baked crust, press plastic wrap over the floor of the custard to forestall a pores and skin from forming, and refrigerate the pie till set. Should you’d prefer to make the pie forward of time, you’ll be able to put together it up till this level and hold it refrigerated for as much as three days. All that’s left to do is to high your dessert with whipped cream and toasted coconut flakes whenever you’re able to serve.

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