This cool, rich coconut cream pie is beautiful and incomparably delicious. It stands out among the many luscious sweets you might find on a Southern table when great cooks are aiming to please. The coconut cream pie filling is simple to make once you’ve done it a few times. An elegant meringue cloud is the classic finish, with a little extra coconut sprinkled atop the meringue before baking, to communicate exactly what kind of pie pleasure awaits the lucky ones anticipating a piece.–Nancie McDermott
LC Soulful Swoops and Swirls Note
Seeking a surefire way to read a baker’s soul—or at least their emotional soundness? All it takes is a single look at their coconut cream pie–in particular, its swoops and swirls of meringue. Are they buoyant and exuberant? Squat and restrained? Playful if a little unpolished? Few and far between? Erratic and barbed? A little too perfect, perhaps? We’ll let you draw your own conclusions about the chef. You may wish to also take note of how your own pie presents itself to the world.
Coconut Cream Pie Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 45 M
- Makes one 9-inch pie
- For the crust
- Lard and Butter Pie Crust (use 1/2 the recipe)
- For the custard filling
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 1/4 cups milk, preferably whole milk
- 1 1/4 cups shredded or flaked coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the meringue
- 3 large egg whites
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Blind bake the crust
- 1. Heat the oven to 375° F (190°C).
- 2. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the pastry, then crimp the edges decoratively. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill it with dried beans or rice or pie weights. Bake until the crust is very lightly browned and somewhat dry, about 10 minutes. Remove the pie pan from the oven, carefully lift out the parchment paper and weights, and return the pan to the oven until the pie crust is dry and nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes more. Let it cool to room temperature.
- Make the custard filling
- 3. In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks.
- 4. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Use a fork or a whisk to mix them well. Pour the milk into the pan and stir well with a whisk or a spatula until everything is very well combined and the dry ingredients seem to have dissolved. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, still stirring with the whisk or spatula, until the mixture heats up and almost reaches a boil and steams and thickens into a smooth, velvety sauce, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
- 5. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture with a measuring cup. Begin stirring the beaten egg yolks with a whisk or a large spoon and slowly, slowly start to add the 1/2 cup of the steaming hot milk mixture, stirring constantly as you pour. (This warms up the eggs and discourages them from curdling.) Slowly pour the egg yolk and milk mixture back into the mixture in the pan, stirring until completely incorporated.
- 6. Place the pan back over medium heat and continue to cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan often, for 2 to 3 minutes. Continue to cook, still stirring and scraping but a little more occasionally, until the mixture thickens considerably and begins retaining its shaped when a blob is dropped from the spoon. Then let it come to a gentle but noisy boil, with large, blobby bubbles surfacing, popping, plopping, and steaming like lava in a cartoon volcano. Let it boil gently for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Add 1 cup of the coconut, the butter, and the vanilla to the custard in the pan and stir to combine. When the butter is melted and incorporated into the custard, place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard and set it aside to cool to room temperature. When the custard has cooled to room temperature, remove the plastic wrap and scoop the custard filling into the piecrust.
- Make the meringue
- 7. Heat the oven to 350° F (176°C)
- 8. Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat the egg whites until they swell up into plump, shiny, soft clouds that hold firm, curly peaks.
- 9. Scoop the meringue on top of the cooled custard filling, spreading it all the way to the crust and mounding the meringue slightly in the center of the pie. Create swoops and swirls in the meringue for decorative effect and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of the coconut over the top of the meringue.
- 10. Place the coconut cream pie on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the meringue is a beautiful golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Place the pie on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and let cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature or, if desired, refrigerate and serve chilled.
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Coconut Cream Pie Recipe © 2010 Nancie McDermott. Photo © 2010 Leigh Beisch. All rights reserved.