Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Coconut Cream Pie

Cream pies are a complex yet simple dessert, a single crust pie filled with a rich custard and then topped with whipped cream. You can have them in lemon, banana, chocolate, or, my personal favorite, coconut.

This version is FULL of coconut flavor, containing coconut milk, coconut extract, cream of coconut, and shredded coconut. Just remember that coconut milk is NOT the same thing as cream of coconut - you can find the coconut milk in the Asian section of your grocery store, while the cream of coconut is usually stocked with the bar mixers (margarita mix, pina colada mix, etc). 

Coconut Cream Pie

1 pie crust, homemade or premade
1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 large egg, room temperature
3 egg yolks, room temperature
2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups shredded/flaked coconut, divided (1 7oz bag)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Roll the pie crust into a glass pie plate, then trim and crimp the edges. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork, then line with foil. Fill with 2 cups of dried beans, then bake in a 425-degree oven for 15 minutes or until the crust is no longer raw. Carefully remove the foil and beans, then bake for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. 

Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup of the cold milk. Let bloom for about 5 minutes. 

Combine the remaining 1 cup of milk with the coconut milk in a heavy saucepan; bring ALMOST to a boil over medium heat. 

Once the gelatin has softened, add the sugar, cornstarch, egg and egg yolks. Whisk until thoroughly blended. Then, slowly whisk about 1/4 cup of the hot coconut milk mixture into the gelatin. Repeat twice, then pour the warmed gelatin into the remaining hot coconut milk mixture in the saucepan. 

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for 2 minutes or until the custard is thick. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. 

Whisk in the butter, coconut extract and cream of coconut; mix until smooth. Stir in 2 cups of the shredded coconut. Pour into the cooled pie crust and chill for at  least 8 hours. 

Once chilled, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer until foamy. Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla until soft to medium peaks form. Spread the cream over the pie, then top with the remaining shredded coconut.