Saturday, December 31

Best Dessert Recipe of 2011: Coconut Cream Pie

 Countdown to 2011 with Finding Joy in My Kitchen

I am linking this recipe up to Finding Joy in My Kitchen's Countdown to 2012: Best Dessert Recipes.  Coconut Cream Pie.....does it really need a further introduction?  I think not.  

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I have decided that pies are my new favorite dessert.  Specifically cream pies.  Is it okay to have a birthday pie rather than cake?  If it is, then sign me up! (That is unless my mom is making her homemade German Chocolate Cake--because if that's the case, all bets are off...)

The hubs and my birthday were last month (they are just a few days apart) and I made him a blackberry pie.  We still had some left over on my birthday, so I didn't bother making another dessert and I promised myself that the following week, I would make myself a pie.  (Hubs is wonderful, but it's like pulling teeth to get him to bake on my birthday--so I stopped trying.  Plus he detailed my car inside and out so I can't complain!  Please know I am not bashing my husband--I think our "talents" compliment each other very nicely!)

The next week came however and Hubs and Peanut both got sick and then life got in the way, so I finally got a chance a few days ago to whip this up.  It was worth the wait.  Even Hubs liked it and he swears he doesn't like coconut--I really think he's lying.  Either about not liking coconut or about the pie--but when you are short on time getting ready for work and you still choose to have a piece of pie after lunch--my bet is that he's lying about the coconut.

Although I love the butter based crust I found, I had some palm shortening that I wanted to try.  This crust was very good and flaky, but more difficult to work with than a butter or vegetable shortening crust.   I also made a stabilized whip cream, as I knew the pie would take us several days to eat.  It worked really well!

Coconut Cream Pie

For the crust

1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp palm shortening
2 to 3 Tbsps cold water

In a food processor (or by hand), mix dry ingredients together.  Add in shortening and pulse to combine (cut shortening into flour using two knives or a pastry cutter if doing so by hand) until the mixture is a little chunkier than canned Parmesan cheese (I think that's a great reference point, don't you?).  Add in water one tablespoon at a time, until dough just holds together.  Shape dough into a ball and flatten to a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate about 20 minutes. 

On a well floured surface (I love using my Silpat for this), roll out dough evenly into a circle, large enough  for a 9 inch pie plate.  I roll the dough out and hold the pie plate over it to make sure it will cover the bottom and the sides.  You could use a pastry mat too, but this works for me.  :)

Fold dough into quarters and transfer to pie plate.  Press into dish, fluting edges or trimming even with the pie plate.  You can tell what I did--someone got lazy.  Pierce the dough evenly with the tines of a fork and bake at 475 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.  (This is called blind baking--where the crust is baked prior to filling the pie.)  Allow crust to cool prior to filling.

Coconut Cream Filling

4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup of sugar (I used good ol' sugar--somethings you just can't mess with)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups whole milk
2 Tbsp butter
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut divided in 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup

Whisk egg yolks in a small bowl for about a minute and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, mix together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Stir in milk gradually, whisking to combine.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and starts to boil.  Boil for one minute, continuing to stir.  Remove from heat temporarily and ladle about a half a cup of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, stirring the yolks constantly.  Once combined, return the egg mixture back to the mixture in the saucepan, stirring to incorporate. (This process is called tempering.)  Place saucepan back on burner and bring to a boil once again.  Boil for one minute and remove from heat.  Stir in butter, vanilla, and 3/4 cup of coconut and fold to combine.  Pour into cooled pie crust and place plastic wrap directly on filling to prevent a hardened pudding crust from forming.  Allow to cool completely before topping with cream.

Stabilized Whipped Cream (aka homemade Cool Whip)

1 Tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a small bowl, mix together water and gelatin.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip cream on medium high speed until cream starts to thicken (about 3-5 minutes).  The gelatin mixture should have thickened completely.  Using a spatula, break up the gelatin mixture and add to the cream, along with maple syrup and vanilla.  Mix again on medium high speed until whip cream reaches desired thickness--I let mine get fairly thick as I wanted it to hold up in the fridge for several days.  Remove plastic wrap from cooled pie and spread whipped cream evenly over top.  Top with toasted coconut if desired.

Toasted Coconut

Place a large saute pan on burner over medium high heat.  Allow pan to get hot enough to let a drop of water dance all over the pan. (That way you know it's good and hot!)  Using remaining 1/4 cup of coconut, pour into pan, stirring constantly.  Coconut will start to toast immediately, so make sure to keep stirring to allow all the coconut to toast (this shouldn't take more than 30 seconds).  Remove from heat and pour onto plate and allow to cool before topping on pie. 


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