Coconut cream pie: Sometimes you feel like a nut

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A Mother’s Day poem:

Some moms are cool,
some moms are sweet,
some moms are nutty, like me.
Bake this Creamy Coconut Pie for the mom in your life
who’s a little bit of all three!

Like many in my generation, food jingles are a part of my lexicon. I can’t have hot dogs without singing the Oscar Mayer wiener song, I always know how to spell bologna, and yes I have counted how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. (I’m not tellin’).

These simple catchy tunes take me back to Saturday mornings watching TV with my brother when all that awaited us on our busy schedules was playing in the street with the rest of kids in the neighborhood, and coming home when the streetlights turned on.  If it was rainy, we might play under the bunkbeds, and watch the Creature Double Feature on Channel 56 if the reception was clear.

I remember those candy bar ads for Mounds and Almond Joy. “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t, Almond Joy’s got nuts, Mounds don’t.” The jingle gets sung often at our house when someone does something nutty like walking around with your shirt inside out, or wears two different colored shoes to work (guilty on both charges).

This jingle recently became inspiration for what my fellow baker, Frank, refers to as “The Tale of Two Pies.” As you can imagine food is a major topic of conversation here at King Arthur, and certain folks have deep connections just based on mutual love of certain foods.

Another baker, Tara, and I go way back. I was the after-school teacher for her two oldest daughters who are now grown and have worked here at KAF summers and holidays.  Tara and I are both coconut fans, and we have been wanting a coconut cream pie blog for a long time. Neither of our husbands like coconut so we don’t really make coconut pies at home, so this was a perfect opportunity to indulge.

I wanted to depart from the traditional egg custard based pies, and go for something lighter and cream based. I didn’t want to rely on gelatin for the thickener, so I reached for one of my favorite KAF products, Instant ClearJel.

Now, I’m gonna be upfront with you. Yes, this is a specialty item. No, we don’t sell it in retail stores and for this recipe, there really isn’t a substitute. So, why am I using it? Because it does this job perfectly and is a truly versatile ingredient to add to your pantry. You’ll reach for it over and over, especially during summer fruit and pie season. Sometimes, a special ingredient is just that. Special in many ways.

That being said, let’s get started on Creamy Coconut Pie.

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The crust for the pie is a graham cracker crust. Simple but perfect crunch for offsetting the creamy filling. I’ll show you two versions. This one is the classic graham, sugar and butter crust.

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Mix until the crumbs hold together like wet sand.

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Your second option for the graham crust is almond graham. Replace half of the graham crumbs with almond flour. The sugar and butter would remain the same.  Again, mix to the wet sand texture. Pick whichever crust floats your boat for this recipe.

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Spread the crumbs evenly in a 9″ pie pan. Don’t press until you have distributed the crumbs as evenly as you can. This will save you having to tear up your nice crust to cover thin spots.

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I like to use the bottom of a small measuring cup to press the crumbs down. This makes for a smooth, compact crust that bakes evenly.

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Bake your lovely crust for 6-8 minutes in a 350°F oven, just until the edges are very slightly browned. Set aside to cool completely.

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To prepare the coconut filling sift together coconut milk powder, sugar, pastry cream filling, and Instant ClearJel.  This will help prevent clumping in the cream filling. You can substitute an equal amount of instant vanilla pudding mix for the pastry cream filling, it’s not quite as rich though.

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Add the coconut flavoring to the cream. Begin whipping and as it thickens, sprinkle in the dry mix. Continue beating until the cream is thick and creamy and resembles buttercream icing.

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Wow! How luscious does that look?  This is where we stopped and taste tested, “just to be sure.” Yes, it tastes as good as it looks.

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Fold in half of the shredded coconut. Do this gently so as not to deflate the cream.

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Spread the filling into the cool pie crust. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight before serving.

For the Almond Joy version of the pie, use the almond flour crust and bake as directed. Next, let’s make a ganache.

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Heat 6 ounces of cream until it just boils. Add 6 ounces of chopped semisweet chocolate. I used our semisweet chocolate chips. Notice when you first begin to mix, the cream and chocolate don’t blend, giving you the lava lamp look.  Have patience, they will come together as you stir.

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There, smooth as silk. Set this aside to cool and thicken until it is the consistency of pudding. You can put it in the fridge or freezer to speed this along. Stir often to avoid lumps and grainy texture.

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Use the whisk attachment and your mixer to beat the cooled ganache until light and fluffy.

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I know it always seems like a pain, but do get in the habit of scraping the bowl.  This pocket of chocolate was at the very bottom of the mixing bowl and would not have been well incorporated if I had skipped the scraping.

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That’s the ticket! This makes an excellent easy cupcake icing too. Spread the ganache into the cooled almond graham crust.

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Sprinkle with slivered almonds, and top with the coconut filling mixture, made as before. Chill for 2-3 hours before serving.

As you can see,  this pie is about as easy as can be to make, but if you’re like us the hardest part will be the chilling time. The day I made the test pies, any time I entered the customer service center, I was inundated with cries of “Can we have pie yet?” Such happiness and rejoicing you’ve never seen as when these pies were served!

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Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Creamy Coconut Pie.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. cindy leigh

    I have to stop reading this blog before breakfast……
    Tee hee, try writing it when you’re hungry! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. cindy leigh

    What is pastry cream mix? From reading the info on the web site, it looks like instant pudding? Could vanilla or coconut instant pudding be substituted? I just received my KAF order (during free shipping) so it will be a while before I order again.
    Instant pudding should work. We haven’t tested it but I think you would use the same amount of instant pudding instead of the whole box. Have fun with it. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  3. Mike T.

    Cindy, you and me both!

    Any reason you didn’t use coconut flour instead of almond flour in the crust? Coconut flour should work too. Have fun with it! Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  4. Brenda from Flatbush

    Could you just make a standard pastry-cream recipe from a book? I hate the phony flavor of instant pudding and don’t see anything but ‘artificial flavor’ on the label of the KA product; the whole point of pastry cream is a perfect texture AND true vanilla flavor, no? You certainly could make your own. mary @ KAF

    Reply
  5. Sue

    Oh the things I learn on this blog! I didn’t know about pastry cream mix until now. I assume it tastes better than instant pudding? My husband loves, coconut cream pie. It would be nice to have an easier way to make it that didn’t taste like I used instant vanilla pudding. These pies both look so wonderful!
    Hi Sue,
    Yes, the pastry cream filling is like very rich vanilla pudding, and is thicker too. It is fantastic with fresh strawberries. Do give it a try. I hope you and your hubby enjoy the pie. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  6. Kim Thoresen

    Serendipity! I do activities at a assisted living home and one of my imagination things I do during exercise is climbing a coconut palm, getting the coconuts, cracking them and bringing them to the kitchen for our cook to use. The most requested imaginary item is coconut cream pie and I was wanting to get a real recipe to surprise my group for dessert at lunch time. This looks soooo yummy!
    Hi Kim,
    That sounds like a lot of fun. When in Puerto Rico, we gathered coconuts and broke them with rocks. It is a lot of work! The coconut ice cream from the street vendors was incredible. I hope you and your crew enjoy the pie and be sure to use your imaginary sunscreen! ;) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. Alissa

    This looks wonderful. It doesn’t look sicky sweet. Do you have Liberte Mediterranee yogurt in your area? It is a Canadian yogurt made from Vermont milk. It is in our organic section and can’t stay on the shelves. Anyhow, they have a coconut yogurt that is to die for. Made of heavy cream and no gelatin. Of course, 17g of fat and 46% saturated fat taste heavenly! It looks like the same texture as the pie filling. Can’t wait to try both of them. Thanks.
    Hi Alissa,
    I’ll have to look for that yogurt at the Co-op. They have a huge selection there. Thanks for the tip. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  8. Amy Dixon

    I’ve wanted to bake a coconut cream pie ever since I was a kid watching Gilligan’s Island on t.v. where the castaways enjoyed it frequently. I think Mary Ann was the character who was magically producing pie in the middle of no-where.

    I have sweetened coconut on hand. Can I use that and, if so, should I adjust the recipe somehow? Thanks.
    HI Amy,
    I’m guessing the professor must have built a solar oven somewhere in the jungle!
    For the sweetened coconut, that is just fine. I used it in a test pie, and didn’t adjust sugar, it was delicious. Give it a try. Be sure to wear your island clothes. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. Terri A

    I’m not a fan of coconut, but I know a lot of people who are who I could make either of these pies for. Also, love the tip about scraping the BOTTOM of the mixer bowl – I always scrape the sides only and then wonder why I have all the “gunk” at the bottom. What an ‘aha’ moment!

    Reply
  10. Nancy

    What do you think about just adding cut up Bananas to make a banana cream pie? or do you have a better Recipe for that? You can certainly adapt that recipe. If you’d like, leave out the coconut and the coconut flavoring and add banana flavor, #1042. I would also add the sliced bananas on top of the crust to keep the cream from darkening. Molly@KAF

    Reply
  11. Lorraine Mihalovic

    I’ve made coconut pies in the past and have added a thin layer of apricot preserves on top of the filling, sieving out any lumps, mixing in grated coconut with whipped cream for a topping. Your recipe with a whipped cream/pudding base gives me the hungries. I too tap into your blob in the mornings since breakfast is usually at 4:30 am. I’m in the office at 7:30 am

    I haven’t baked a chocolate coconut pie but am thinking perhaps a layer of marshmallow creme before topping with coconut might give it a little kick.

    Thanks for the great recipes and the many experinces of your blog bakers. Quite a learning environment.
    Oh, chocolate marshmallow is a big favorite. Will have to try the choc/marsh/coconut blend. Thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  12. Susan

    After seeing the picture and reading the directions last week, I had a streak of genius ~ my kids could make this for me for Mother’s Day. They did, and it was just as I’d imagined it would be – delicious, with a perfectly creamy/fluffy texture and just the right amount of coconut flavor. We didn’t have the pastry cream mix, so I instructed my daughter to look up a homemade vanilla pudding recipe, mix up just the dry ingredients, and then measure out the same amount as she would have for the pastry cream mix. Not only that, but the pudding recipe called for cornstarch and we were out. Undaunted, she mixed together half flour, half coconut milk powder to substitute for the cornstarch. It worked! Later she used the rest of the dry pudding ingredients to actually make the pudding. Um, not quite as tasty as it would have been with cornstarch instead of flour, so I don’t recommend making pudding with the flour/coconut milk substitution.

    Reply
  13. NICOLETA

    it looks fab …i can`t wait to try this wknd.all your recipes it looks….wow. i can`t wait to try your panettone, as well. im romanian, live in uk now,my country have tradition in baking as well, i love baking . so…i will come with reviews.THANK YOU VERRY MUCH FOR THIS RECIPE., AND ALL.
    can i use coconut tin milk instead powder? im not sure i will find, and i dont know where. thank you!
    HI Nicoleta,
    I haven’t tested the recipe using coconut milk to replace some of the cream in the recipe, but it’s worth a try. I would try replacing 1/2 cup of the cream with coconut milk to start. Glad to hear you are enjoying the recipes. ~ MaryJane

    Reply

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