"Because life is good, home cooking is best, and there is always something to be grateful for." - Christy Jordan

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Coconut Cream Pie

It's SO hot outside, y'all. I know, I know... that's all anyone complains about these days, but it is SERIOUSLY horrible. It's the kind of heat that suffocates you when you step outside and you start sweating just walking from your front door to your car even though you just spent an hour getting ready. Awesome.

My point is that in this unbearable Texas heat, I haven't really been feelin' warm desserts. Don't get me wrong... I still want dessert (let's not get ahead of ourselves), but I just want something cool. Something like.... a chilled Coconut Cream Pie. Sounds good, right?

So a few weeks ago at the grocery store, I stumbled upon this gift from the Southern Living Gods...

Mmmmhmmm. That's right. A magazine filled with Southern Living's best ever baked treats. No need to pinch yourself folks- it's not a dream!

I immediately swooned and started flipping through it while standing in line. It had chapters on everything from layer cakes to pound cakes, sheet cakes, cupcakes, pies & cobblers, ice cream pies, tarts and frostings. A baker's dream. Then, I checked out the front cover to see how much it was. TWELVE. DOLLARS. For a magazine! Seriously?! Okay, granted, there are zero ads (which is wonderful), but that's pretty steep for a magazine. I was just putting it back on the shelf when Mom said "You're not going to get that?" and I said NO because it's so pricey! She said she would buy it for me since I had been a "good girl". Thanks, Mom! And thanks for still buying me "a treat" from the grocery store, even though I'm 24 :)

I took "my treat" home and devoured it. I looked at every page with every pretty picture and read through every recipe. Y'all... this is one of those magazines that you keep for a lifetime because it's so good.

Once I got to the "Pies" section, I got pretty excited. I LOVE pie. Who doesn't? Pie is perfect. To me, it's the perfect, All-American, homemade dessert. Fruit pie, pecan pie, buttermilk pie... I'll take it any way I can get it. When I flipped to the page for "Coconut Cream Pie", I knew I had found my next endeavor. They made it look so pretty!

This pie was actually really easy to make. Anyone could do it! I promise! If you love coconut, then you'll fall in love with this pie. The chewy coconut combined with the chilled vanilla custard and fresh whipped cream makes for the perfect summer dessert that can cool you down and save you from the Texas heat. Let's get to it!

Let's go over the ingredients first:

Coconut Cream Pie
Recipe adapted from
Southern Living

1 (15 oz) package refrigerated pie crusts (2 come in a box, you'll only need 1)

1/2 c. sugar

1/4 c. cornstarch

2 c. half-and-half

4 egg yolks

3 tbsp. butter

1 c. sweetened flaked coconut

2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided

1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream

1/3 c. powdered sugar

Garnish: toasted coconut

Start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees. You don't bake the actual pie, but we do need to cook the crust beforehand.

I think one of my favorite things about this pie is that you use pre-made, refrigerated pie crusts. I'm all for homemade things, but this just makes things a little easier. Unroll one of the pie crusts from the box and fit it over a pie plate. Make sure it's center and lift up the edges to make sure the crust is completely formed to the pie plate. You don't want any bubbles or space between the pie dish and the crust.

Remember how I said to center it? Learn from my mistakes, folks.

Since I had so much excess, I got out my kitchen shears and trimmed around the edges to even it all out. Then I folded over the rest of the excess, once it was evened out, and then crimped it with a fork.

Trim the edges 

Crimp with a fork!

Okay, now throw the pie crust in the oven and bake it for around 12 minutes. We want it to be slightly brown.

Not the prettiest thing in the world, but the "coconut cream" aspect of the pie will cover that up!

Once the pie crust is out of the oven, set it aside to cool down while you make the custard. Combine the sugar and the cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Mix them up so they're good and combined.

Then measure out 2 cups of half-and-half and add in the 4 egg yolks. The cornstarch and the egg yolks are what's going to hold this custard together in this recipe. You can save the whites and fix them for breakfast tomorrow morning! Or, if you're really fancy, you could whip them up to make a meringue on top of this pie or another pie.

Once the half-and-half and egg yolks are combined, slowly pour that into the sugar and cornstarch while whisking. Once that's combined, turn the heat on to medium to medium-high and watch it carefully.

The mixture will still be fairly thin at this point, but it will get thick. Just you wait!

Keep whisking and watching this mixture carefully. You don't want it to burn in the bottom and you want to make sure the mixture stays smooth. You'll want the mixture to boil for 1 minute and then you can remove it from the heat once it's thick. 

Thickened up!

Now it's time to stir in the remaining ingredients. Add in your 3 tbsp. of butter (I added 4 because that's what I had and I was too lazy to cut it!), 1 c. of shredded coconut, and 2 tsp. vanilla. I actually added two types of vanilla to add a little extra flavor. I used a clear Mexican vanilla (Thanks, Alese!) and some pure vanilla extract. I found some coconut flavoring in the pantry from some Malibu Rum Cupcakes I made for Rachel last summer for her birthday, so I added a heaping teaspoon of that too, just to up the ante on the coconut flavor.

Add the butter and vanilla...

Stir in the coconut...


The mixture should be very thick and super coconutty (not a word, I know.) at this point. Now, the recipe says to cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes. Let me level with ya...

I'm impatient. Go ahead and do your dishes while the custard cools down a tad, but don't feel like you need to wait 30 minutes and waste some plastic wrap on it! It will be fine!

Pour the mixture into the baked pie crust and smooth everything out. 

This is where the pie needs to chill for a while. You can put it in the fridge overnight or if you're impatient you can put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. This will give the pie enough time to chill and set up.

Right before you take the pie out of the fridge or freezer, whip up some fresh whipped cream to top the pie with. Also, toast some coconut to make it look pretty!

To make fresh whipped cream: Pour 1 1/2 c. of heavy whipping cream in a bowl and use a hand mixer for several minutes to whip it up. Halfway through, add in 1/3 c. powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. Beat until there are stiff peaks and it's very thick. I like to use powdered sugar in whipped cream because it dissolves easier.

To make toasted coconut: Put 1 c. of shredded coconut in a skillet and turn on the heat to medium. The key is to keep stirring the coconut until it's slightly brown. You don't want it to burn at all! This might take a couple minutes, but it will make a big difference in your pie. Keep in mind: Not every little piece of coconut will brown. That's okay!

Now get out your pie and top it with your fresh whipped cream. Spread it all around and get it just like you want it. Then top the pie with your toasted coconut (make sure it has cooled a little bit) and you're done!!

The pie is ready. Aren't you excited? You should be! It's awesome and you'll be so glad you made it.

You can either slip it in the fridge for whenever you're going to serve it, or go ahead and cut yourself a slice. Just know that it should be stored in the fridge, or else you'll have a big melted whipped cream mess!

Now you should know that my dad said this is one of the best pies I have ever made. Guess I'll have a hard time living up to this standard from here on out! 

I think I'm going to use this same vanilla custard recipe to make a banana cream pie later this week since I still have a pie crust left. If you want to do that: follow this recipe exactly, except omit the coconut. Before you pour the custard into the crust, slice some fresh banana in the bottom so that it's layered between the crust and the custard. Yum!

Enjoy everyone!

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