Coconut is one of my favorite flavors in the whole world. Besides chocolate, I think I could safely say it is a baking staple. If there are a selection of squares to choose from, I will always pick one that contains coconut. Cookies or cupcakes? Definitely one with coconut.
So, it sort of boggles my mind a little bit that I have never, ever, in my history of baking, attempted a coconut cream pie.
I guess there are a couple of reasons for that. First, my household does not embrace the delicious world that is pie. My husband is pretty "meh" about all pies except for lemon meringue. He's also keen on Flapper pie (basically a sweet custard pie) made by his grandma, but that's about it. No one in my house likes any sort of berry pie. Apple also isn't a winner. When it's Thanksgiving, I basically take down a pumpkin pie on my own.
The second reason that I've never attempted a coconut pie is that they are either a custard base (which I previously found too daunting), or a pudding and whipped topping combo (which I kind of think of as a cheaters way to bake). Don't get me wrong....I cheat sometimes too. Pudding has it's place, but it just never seemed appealing in coconut form.
When I recently came across the recipe for this version of the pie on the Taste of Home
website, I thought it was time I give the coconut cream pie variety it a whirl. We were having a dinner guest that night too, and I know his love of pie is right up there with mine. At least someone would overeat with me if it turned out to be a winner. It's nice to have someone else to shame spiral with.
Here is the link to the original recipe: Coconut Cream Angel Pie
For the pie:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups whole milk
3 egg yolks (reserve egg whites for the meringue)
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 tsp coconut extract (Note, the original recipe does NOT call for this)
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1, 9 inch pastry shell (pre bake it until golden brown first)*
* Yes, I cheated and used a frozen one. However, you could use a halved version of the pastry recipe found in my post for Autumn Apple Pie
-Combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt and milk in a medium sized saucepan. Whisk and stir over medium high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat and continue to stir for a couple of minutes.
-Remove the milk mixture from the heat, and stir a small amount (I added just a couple tablespoons) into the egg mixture. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! The purpose of this is to increase the temperature of the eggs, so that when they're added to the hot milk mixture they don't scramble. Keep adding a few tablespoons of the hot mixture to the eggs, stirring constantly, until the egg mixture is just warm. Then add all of the egg mixture into the hot milk mixture in the saucepan. Whisk quickly while doing so. Bring this all to a gentle boil and cook for about 2 minutes. It should be a silky smooth, thick texture.
-Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut, butter and vanilla extracts. This is where I branched out and added some coconut extract. Pour into the pre-baked shell.
For the Meringue:
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup flaked coconut
Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue until peaks stand on their own and are nice and glossy. Gently spoon onto prepared pie, spreading over the edges of the pastry to seal in the filling. Sprinkle with coconut. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for between 17 to 20 minutes (I went almost the whole 20), or until golden brown. Allow pie to cool on a wire rack for approximately one hour. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.
Not only did I think that this pie was amazing, but my husband agreed! He went even further by saying that he's pretty sure this now overtakes lemon meringue. That may be one of the best compliments he's ever given me on a pie. The leftovers didn't last more than a day. Since I finally had someone to share them with, I didn't overindulge, and my shame spiral was limited :)