Sunday, December 21, 2014

Coconut Cream Pie

Oh my goodness I love this stuff! 

It seems I find more people who are anti-coconut than for it so I don't make it often but I made a double batch yesterday for some events this evening.  I use the recipe from the kitchen bible, aka the red and white checkered Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  I have the 75th anniversary edition and it has the neatest feature in the back of "top recipes through the decades."  The pie is a staple of the book, though, so it should be in any version you pick up.

I made a double batch and chose a pot that was WAY too big but I'm here to tell you that you CAN successfully double it (though I'll just go over the instructions for a single pie).  I made a big ol' mess!

Start by separating four eggs.  I usually do this in one of my Pyrex measuring cups (those glass ones with the little spout and the handle).  We'll be working with the yolks on this one--save the egg whites for an omelet.   Break up the yolks with a fork and set the eggs aside.  Mix 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of cornstarch in a pot and slowly add in 2 1/2 cups half and half (or milk).  Cook it over medium-high heat and keep stirring it for a while until it starts to thicken and bubble. 

It's important to keep stirring the mixture because otherwise a sludge will form on the bottom of the pan. 

Thanks a lot, cornstarch!

You'll reduce the heat at this point (I brought it down to medium) and continue to cook-and-stir for two more minutes.  Pull it off of the heat--I use another burner--and scoop out a cup of the hot stuff to mix with your egg yolks. 

Slowly pour the hot mix into the eggs while stirring so we can temper the eggs and start to raise the temperature.  Once you've mixed the cup of hot mix and the egg yolks you'll pour it BACK into the pot, stirring constantly so you don't end up with scrambled eggs! 

(A side note:  There are several cream pies you can make off of this recipe, and in some of the others it is VERY noticeable if you have egg chunks in your pie filling.  Because we're mixing in coconut this recipe is very beginner-friendly because even if you don't do a great job of incorporating the eggs the chunks won't be very noticeable because there's already other stuff in the cream!  There...I should now be done using the word "chunks" unappetizing!) 

Put the pot back onto the hot burner (about this time I kick up the heat just a smidge) and keep stirring until you reach the "gentle boil" stage.  Again, reduce the heat back to medium and do the cook-and-stir for two more minutes.  Turn off the heat, move the pan to a cooler spot, and add a tablespoon of butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla and mix it up.  At this point we go in the coconut direction (otherwise, it's just a vanilla cream pie).  Add in a cup of shredded coconut and stir to thoroughly combine.  Pour the mix into your prepared pie plates.  (I don't like regular crust so I cheat and use the stuff that the Keebler elves make.)

Let it cool on the counter until it's safe enough to put into the fridge to cool all the way--I think I let mine sit about 45 minutes, mostly because I got distracted with other chores.  When you're putting the pie into the fridge it's a good time to also put in your mixing bowl and whisk attachment.

Since I come from a whipped cream kind of family (we are NOT a meringue bunch) I add whipped cream to my pies once they have cooled.  Pull out the chilled bowl and whisk and add a cup of heavy whipping cream.  I set my mixer on the second-highest setting and let it do its thing until it starts to get thicker.  Once it gets pretty thick I add a spoonful to maybe two spoonsful of regular sugar and continue to mix.  Once it starts to look nice and thick stop the mixer and taste test it with a spoon (because that's cleaner than your finger, of course).  If all is well then scoop it and spread it on top of your pie.  The final flourish is about a handful of shredded coconut.  (You can toast it first if you want but for me that usually turns into burnt coconut so I don't even bother.) 

Voila!  Delicious coconut cream pie!


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