Monday, October 1, 2007

Coconut Cream Pie

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
chocolate curls*
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.

Pâte Brisée
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.


Celine said...

whatta beauty! when is/was your bday?

Becky said...

happy birthday! when i saw the first picture of the pie, my eyes just about popped out of my head. i completely adore coconut cream pie. next time i make it i'm definitely going to try the (thin) chocolate layer :)

lynn said...

Looks fabulous! I'm very impressed with your pie crust. It turned out beautifully. Happy birthday!

Deborah said...

Your crust is gorgeous! I just had a birthday as well, and made myself a peach pie! (I haven't posted it yet...) I love coconut cream pie, and yours looks and sounds delicious!

Anh said...

What a perfect pie!

VeggieGirl said...

this pie is absolutely breathtaking!! how fun to make a dessert for your OWN celebration :0) wishing you a very happy birthday - when is it?

The Cooking Ninja said...

oohhh ... this looks sinfully delicious. :) I made little coconut squares with strawberry jam .

Carla said...

I made a coconut cream pie during the summer, and my custard didn't thicken either. I believe I didn't cook it to a hot enough temperature, but I burnt it the first time, so I was really careful. Yours look really good with that chocolate layer!! Happy (belated?) birthday!

Cakespy said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting!

And hello, deliciousness--like becky's comment, this pie makes my eyes pop. The crust looks perfect--after reading Jeffrey Steingarten's article on the quest for perfect pie crust in Vogue, I've been exceedingly fascinated and impressed by a great crust.

Cassie Young said...

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Ashley!! Hope your day was really special. :) This pie and that crust are both beautiful!

eatme_delicious said...

celine: Thanks! Oh it was a while ago in August. Took me a while to post!

becky: Thanks for the birthday wishes and kind words. :) Hope you like the chocolate layer!

lynn: Thanks. :)

deborah: Ohh peach pie, that sounds good. Thanks. :)

anh: Thanks!

veggiegirl: Thank you. :) It was last August, so quite a while ago now!

thecookingninja: It was. :) I will check out your coconut squares. I love anything with coconut!

carla: Thanks. Ah yes burnt custard is not fun. I just got really impatient waiting for it to thicken.

cakespy: Thanks! Oh I love Jeffrey Steingarten's articles and his food obsession! :)

cassie: Thanks Cassie. :)

BC said...

A chocolate layer on the bottom always sounds like a great idea but it needs to be paper thin... or you need a steak knife to cut dessert. Unfortunately, I've had the same experience.

eatme_delicious said...

bc: Yes I definitely will remember the paper thin chocolate layer now! :)

Katie said...

I have to try this! Your blog is great - I've always wanted to bake more and this is great inspiration!

eatme_delicious said...

katie: Aw thank you. :) Hope you find some yummy things!

Reema J said...

A friend and I decided to have a baking date, and we both fell in love with your pie picture. After an inordinate time reading and re-reading the instructions, we got everything done, and the end result was ridiculously delish !

eatme_delicious said...

Reema J: Yaey baking dates are so fun. =) I'm so happy the pie turned out and you guys loved it! I should make this one again. I love cream pies.