Coconut Cream Pie

Wow, who knew people would go so crazy for a classic coconut cream pie?! So here's my recipe, the one that moves grown men to silence. It has a creamy coconut-milk filling topped with either whipped cream or lofty meringue. Just in time for Father's Day and summer gatherings!

Coconut Cream Pie ♥ KitchenParade.com

"... I must've done something good ..."

We all recognize the line, right? the one from The Sound of Music, that magical scene when the Captain and Maria realize the miracle of finding one another? (Need a reminder? Here it is on YouTube. I so love that scene! And yes, I relate, thanks to this guy.)

But when I think of the "good" I might've done since my now 91-year old father came to live with us more than a year ago, #PieDayFriday ranks right up there.

It was exactly a year ago on Father's Day weekend that the idea of homemade pie every Friday reached up and grabbed me by the rolling pin. Fifty-two pies later, it's still fun! I'm still learning (or re-learning or perfecting) some pie baking skills.

My husband Jerry is keen for pie. On Friday mornings, he cooks breakfast with an extra-sweet smile watching while I get out the flour and sugar for pie that night's pie.

But nothing beats the reaction from my dad whose eyes light up at the very sight of a pie. He laughs! Some days he positively chortles. And once he puts his fork in, he doesn't usually look up again until after the plate's been scraped clean.

And the effect lingers into the weekend because my dad would happily eat pie for breakfast any day of the week. Yes, that's an old Kellogg tradition, pie for supper followed by leftover pie the next morning. #PieforBreakfast #NewHashTag?

Coconut Cream Pie ♥ KitchenParade.com

So it's been quite the year, one pie after another, another week, another pie.

Coconut Cream Pie is one of the three top favorites of the whole year. Back in January, I made back-to-back Coconut Cream Pies, one for us, one for Jerry's brother-in-law's 94th birthday. He's a lanky guy and doesn't have so much of a sweet tooth anymore but his birthday pie disappeared in two days flat and earned me this proud accolade, "That Alanna, she's quite a chef." Proud of that one, I am, I am.

Coconut Cream Pie ♥ KitchenParade.com

But here's the thing about how we like our Coconut Cream Pie: rich coconut flavor without actual coconut – well, excepting a tiny sprinkle of toasted coconut on top. The flavor comes from good coconut milk.

Overall we like Coconut Cream Pie "slightly more" with whipped cream on top rather than the more traditional meringue. But some times, I waver. One time I think there's no beating the Whipped Cream Topping, other times, wow, that lofty Meringue Topping really blows me away.

So naturally, my recipe comes with your choice of topping, either Whipped Cream or Meringue. Make both! Back to back, even! Compare and decide for yourself! Then come back to let me know, okay?!

Coconut Cream Pie ♥ KitchenParade.com

You'll Like My Coconut Cream Pie If ...

... you appreciate rich coconut-y flavor without bumpy coconut texture
... you like cream pies, especially in their clean, pure classic forms
... you're a new pie maker
... you like pies that aren't especially sweet or rich

Ready to get started? Here's your recipe!


COCONUT CREAM PIE

Hands-on time: 30 minutes over 3 hours
Time to table: at least 5 hours
Makes 1 9-10 inch "deep dish" pie

  • 1 baked deep-dish pie shell (either graham cracker or traditional pie crust)

    COCONUT CREAM FILLING
    (makes about 4 cups filling)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (35g) cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt

  • 1 15-ounce full-fat coconut milk
  • 1-1/4 cups (290g) whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract

    ~ either ~ WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING
    (enough to fill pie's center, double to extend to the crust)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted coconut, optional

    ~or~ MERINGUE TOPPING
  • 4 large egg whites, cold
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/16 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch table salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon coconut extract or vanilla
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar

At least five hours (and preferably longer) before serving, make the Coconut Cream Filling.

COCONUT CREAM FILLING In a medium saucepan but off heat, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the sugar, cornstarch and salt until the eggs are completely broken up. Very slowly, whisk in the coconut milk and milk, make sure there are no visible pieces of egg yolk or white or bits of cornstarch. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, until mixture turns warm. Then increase the heat to medium and stir continuously (that means constantly and without interruption! ) until mixture thickens. If it moves too slowly for you, turn up the heat a bit but don't move away from the stove, the filling will go from liquid to lumps or burned mess in a couple of seconds. Once the filling is thick, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the coconut extract.

ASIDE Is your Filling just a tad bit lumpy? That means either (1) the egg wasn't broken down enough during whisking or (2) that the Filling cooked too fast. But don't worry – there's a fix! Just press the Filling through a fine-mesh strainer, that'll strain out any lumps.

IMPORTANT TEMPERATURE MANAGEMENT Cover the top of the Filling with waxed paper, this avoids the formation of a "skin" on top of the Filling. Now, Filling temperature is key!

Let the Filling cool for about an hour until it reaches room temperature; to speed things along a bit, feel free to stir the Filling occasionally. You could even put it in the fridge but I try to avoid that since condensation can form if the temperature changes too fast.
Room temperature Filling is perfect (or even a tiny bit warmer is fine) for filling the pie but do avoid putting a "hot Filling" into a pie crust as the heat will break down the crust, making for a mushy mess.
For the Whipped Cream Topping, after the pie is filled, the Filling should be completely chilled before putting the Topping on top. So once the Filling reaches room temperature, cover the top with waxed paper again and refrigerate the pie until cold.
For the Meringue Topping, the Filling should be room temperature (not hot, not cold) before spreading the Meringue over the top just before baking.

for WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING Whip all the ingredients (except the toasted coconut) until soft peaks form. Spread across the center of the pie. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and refrigerate until ready to serve.

for MERINGUE TOPPING Heat oven to 350F/180C. In the metal bowl of a stand mixer, whisk by hand the egg white, cornstarch, cream of tartar, salt and coconut extract/vanilla (that is, everything except the sugar) until tiny bits of cornstarch and cream of tartar are worked into the egg whites. With the whisk attachment, whisk this mixture on medium high until soft peaks form. Turn speed down to low. With the mixer running, slooooooowly add the sugar into the whisk. When the sugar is in, increase the speed to medium high and run for 15 seconds, then quit. Spread the meringue across the Filling, starting with the outer edge first, making sure that the meringue touches but does not cover the crust's edge, then filling in the center. For a little drama, mound the center of the pie with extra meringue and create swirls with the back of a spoon. Bake pie until meringue is golden, about 10 – 15 minutes. Let pie cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve, preferably at least two hours.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Make the Crust and/or Filling up to a day before but do not fill the crust until the day you'll be serving the pie. The Whipped Cream Topping can be added early on the day of serving, right up until the last minute before serving. The Meringue Topping may be spread on and baked early on the day of serving, up to to a couple of hours before.

VARIATIONS

ACTUAL COCONUT IN COCONUT CREAM PIE? HERESY! My circle loooooves Coconut Cream Pie, just don't mess with that cool, smooth filling by adding pesky coconut flakes! :-) That said? Others like those bumpy bits of coconut. Just add 1 cup of toasted unsweetened coconut to the Filling while it cooks. For 1 cup (115g) toasted coconut, place about 6 ounces (170g) coconut in a dry skillet and gently toast on medium low heat until golden, turning occasionally, especially once you begin to notice a little color form. Stay close and watch carefully, coconut goes from silky white to burnt black in a few seconds. You can use sweetened coconut as well, it'll just toast more quickly thanks to the sugar.

LOWER-SUGAR & LOWER FAT COCONUT CREAM PIE I had high hopes that a lower-sugar and lower-fat filling would be "almost as good" as one made with more sugar and fat. And flavor-wise, using 1/2 cup sugar, low-fat coconut milk and 2% milk instead of 3/4 cup sugar, full-fat coconut milk and whole milk, really does work. Too bad, then, that the lower-calorie filling is quite soft, it just doesn't set up as well. To compensate, however, you could add another tablespoon or two of cornstarch to the filling. (I haven't tried this yet but it's what I'd do to create a firmer texture.)

ALANNA's TIPS For Coconut Cream Pie, I go back and forth between a standard pie crust and My Favorite Graham Cracker Crust. Both are good! Would the chocolate cookie crust from Fresh Strawberry Pie be good? I think so! To make whipped cream with 1/2 cup cream, I use the small container and light whipping tool that came with immersion blender, it's the perfect size and such easy cleanup! However, with any more cream than 1/2 cup, the higher volume of whipped cream necessitates a bowl and a hand mixer. For the record, I'm no fan of Trader Joe's coconut milk. It's not always easy to find but my favorite is Arroy-D, Cook's Illustrated rated it first in a lineup earlier in 2017.

NUTRITION INFORMATION
Per Slice (Whipped Cream Topping): 400 Calories; 23g Tot Fat; 14g Sat Fat; 77mg Cholesterol; 210mg Sodium; 42g Carb; 1g Fiber; 27g Sugar; 5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 10 & PointsPlus 11 & SmartPoints 19

Per Slice (Meringue Topping): 389 Calories; 16g Tot Fat; 9g Sat Fat; 56mg Cholesterol; 231mg Sodium; 53g Carb; 1g Fiber; 38g Sugar; 6g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 9 & PointsPlus 10 & SmartPoints 18

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna