This coconut cream pie is an old-fashioned recipe for bliss. A luscious coconut custard is topped with billows of meringue and sprinkled with shredded coconut. A buttery, flaky crust instead of a graham cracker crust adds just the right savoriness.
How to make soulful swoops and swirls on your meringue pie
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 person behind her or him. You may wish to also take note of how your own pie presents itself to the world. As for us, we like to use less control and more flourish when making these shapes, letting ourself be guided by our whims and our instincts.
Coconut Cream Pie
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 45 M
- Serves 8 | Makes one 9-inch pie
- For the crust
- For the coconut custard filling
- For the meringue
Heat the oven to 375° F (190°C).
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.
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.
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.
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 shape 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.
Heat the oven to 350° F (176°C)
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.
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.
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. Originally published November 10, 2010.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
I did it! I made my first coconut cream pie with a meringue topping, and it turned out great. I have this recipe to thank for it. It took me by the hand and walked me though with great success. The instructions were so helpful, telling me exactly what to look for when making the custard.
I just stood back and listened to the oohs and ahhs and grinned like the Cheshire Cat with my beautiful finished pie. I'm sure this pie would be good with whatever pie crust you choose to use, but I highly recommend the Lard and Butter Pie Crust. Needless to say, I'll be making both the crust and pie again.
The smell of the coconut custard filling was so good that it almost didn’t make it into the crust! (By the way, I reduced the butter by 1 tablespoon and used non-fat milk. It was still really rich tasting.) My family loved it.
Also, we ate one piece that evening–the still warm meringue had a burnt marshmallow flavor (yum). Then we ate another in the morning out of the fridge. It really does take good either way.