Coconut Cream Pie
This cool, rich 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 cream pie filling is simple to make once you’ve done it a few times. Then you will be ready to make another Southern favorite, banana cream pie, using the same velvety custard as the foundation. 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.
NotesSome pies call for partially or fully baked piecrusts. These are often for pies that will not be baked at all or will not be baked for very long. To pre-bake a piecrust: Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line the empty piecrust with parchment paper or waxed paper (this is called “blind baking”). Then fill it with dried beans or rice, to keep the dough from shrinking and the sides from collapsing as it cooks. Bake until the crust is very lightly browned and somewhat dry, about 10 minutes. For a partially baked (par-baked) piecrust, stop at this point and proceed according to the recipe directions for filling and baking the pie. For a fully baked piecrust, remove the pie pan from the oven, and carefully lift out the parchment paper and rice or beans. Return the now-exposed piecrust to the oven until it is dry and nicely and evenly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove, cool, and proceed with recipe.
Total Timeunder 4 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together
Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, vegetarian
Taste and Texturecreamy, crunchy, light, sweet
Type of Dishdessert, pie
- Make pastry for a 9-inch single-crust pie (store-bought or see basic Butter Pie Crust)
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 2¼ cups milk
- 1¾ cups shredded or flaked coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 egg whites
- 5 tablespoons sugar
Line a 9-inch pie pan with crust and then crimp the edges decoratively. Line and partially bake the crust (see Notes). Let it cool to room temperature.
To make the filling:
Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl, and use a fork or a whisk to mix them well. In another small bowl, beat the egg yolks.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk almost to a boil, stirring it as it heats up and begins to steam. Scoop out about ½ cup of the hot milk, and pour it into the small bowl of beaten egg yolks, stirring well as you pour. This warms up the eggs and discourages them from curdling when they are cooked. Scrape the warmed egg yolks into the hot milk mixture on the stove and stir well.
Add the sugar-cornstarch mixture to the warm egg-and-milk mixture, and stir well to dissolve it. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring all the while, until the mixture has thickened to about the consistency of cream and become very smooth and evenly combined. Cook for about 1 minute more, and then remove the pan from the heat.
Add 1 cup of the coconut, the butter, and vanilla. Stir to mix everything together well and until the butter has melted. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the filling, and set it aside to cool to room temperature. When the filling has cooled down, pour it into the piecrust and set aside.
To make the meringue:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high, and add the sugar gradually, about 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat the egg whites until they thicken and swell up into plump, shiny, soft clouds that will hold firm, curly peaks.
Scoop the meringue onto the filling, and spread it out to seal the edges to the crust. Mound it up in the middle, and sprinkle the reserved coconut over the top of the meringue. Place the 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, or refrigerate and serve chilled.
2010 Nancie McDermott