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.
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.
Mix until the crumbs hold together like wet sand.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fold in half of the shredded coconut. Do this gently so as not to deflate the cream.
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.
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.
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.
Use the whisk attachment and your mixer to beat the cooled ganache until light and fluffy.
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.
That's the ticket! This makes an excellent easy cupcake icing too. Spread the ganache into the cooled almond graham crust.
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!
Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Creamy Coconut Pie.