I have to admit, these pictures do not capture this delicious pie. A chocolate pastry crust is filled with cool, creamy coconut fillng, then topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream, toasted coconut flakes and shaved chocolate. My daughter loved this pie and requested that I make it often! The crust is adapted from Baking with Julia, my newly rediscovered (and favorite) baking cookbook. I used the technique for pastry cream that I learned at The French Pastry Schooll to make the coconut cream. The first time, I used flour to thicken the cream; the filling was softly set and didn't have a stroing coconut flavor. This time, I tried corn starch as the thickener, then stirred a cup of unsweetened coconut flakes into the filling. It was delicious. I used unsweetened coconut in both the filling and the topping to cut down on the sugar overload you can get from sweetened coconut flakes. This pie does take time to put together, but you can make it in stages. The dough can be made a day or two ahead of time; the pastry cream can be made several hours before filling the pie. It is worth the effort!
Coconut Cream Pie
For the crust
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into 16 cubes
- 1 egg yolk
- 3-4 tablespoons ice water
Add dry ingredients to bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and mix on low to combine. Add butter cubes and mix on low for 3-4 minutes until butter is broken up and mixture is sandy. Add egg yolk and sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over dough. Mix on low until dough starts to come together. Pinch dough together; if it stays together, it is ready. If it does not, add more ice water a tablespoon at a time. The dough should stick together but should not be wet. When I added a 4 tablespoons of water, I found that the dough held together very well, but once chilled, it was too moist, making it sticky and difficult to roll. I made it again using just three tablespoons of water., this time letting it mix for 2-3 minutes on medium low speed to give the water more time to be absorbed into the dry ingredients. Using less water gave the dough a better texture; it held together well and was easy to roll.
For the filling
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 4 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 1 cup shredded coconut, fine shred
In a small 2 quart saucepan, bring coconut milk and cream to a simmer over medium low heat. The milk is ready when small bubbles start to form around edge of pot. As it is heating, mix egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a large bowl. Add about 1/4 cup hot milk and stir to blend. Gradually add rest of milk. Go slowly; if you add it too quickly, you can scramble the eggs (see the yellow pieces in the strainer?)
To bake crust
Preheat oven to 350.
Take dough put of refrigerator to soften for 5 minutes. Dust a large cutting board with flour. Roll out dough, turning frequently and dusting with more flour as needed. Roll the dough to 12 inch round, 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim edges. Chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Line tart pan with foil, then fill dried bean or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Sides of tart shell should be set; if they are not, continue to cook for another 5 minutes with pie weights in pan. Once sides are set, remove foil and beans. Continue to bake shell for 5 more minutes until bottom is fully baked (it will look dry). Cool completely on a wire rack.
- 1 cup large unsweetened coconut flakes, fancy grade (I used Let's Do Organic, Fancy Grade Coconut Flakes)
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup chocolate curls, made by shaving a large chocolate bar
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Toss coconut flakes with water, then sprinkle with sugar. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes until golden brown. Cool.
Using a vegetable peeler, shave chocolate into curls (I used a block of dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s).
Whip cream with sugar until soft peaks form. If desired, put into a pastry bag so you can pipe it.
Stir coconut cream to loosen the filling. Spread into cooled chocolate tart shell. Pipe cream around outside of pie or spread cream over top of pie. Top with toasted coconut and chocolate curls. Chill pie at least 2 hours until set. Remove from tart pan. Slice and serve.