Coconut Cream Pie and Borrowing Recipes
By Chef Deb Traylor
I’ve always believed we are a community of cooks. Whether you’re a chef, cook, baker or hobbyist, the one thing we all have in common is… borrowing and sharing recipes. In the past, we borrowed recipes from every imaginable place, from family and friends, magazines and cookbooks, TV and radio, the backs of packaging, or from chefs and waiters at our favorite restaurant. We jotted down notes on napkins, slips of paper, the backs of checkbooks or the margins of a magazine. More often then not, these recipes ended up in little recipe boxes, kitchen drawers or between the pages of a favorite cookbook so you could “find” it when you needed it.
Now, with the help of computers and Pinterest, we’re able to save and, dare I say, “share and borrow”, more recipes then we ever thought possible. The internet has expanded our community of cooks, thus allowing us greater access to recipes and the ability to update our own little digital recipe box (with a lot less clutter!).
Years ago, handwritten recipes would often credit the person who shared the recipe. “Mary’s Best Chocolate Cake” or “Aunt Ida’s Potato Salad” would be written somewhere on the page, generously giving credit to the person who supplied the recipe. It was a compliment to be asked for a recipe. With today’s technology and the ability to download recipes, we’ve lost some of the generous acknowledgment of a recipe’s history or lineage.
I have to admit I have thousands, actually tens of thousands of recipes on file, in folders, even in boxes, and I love them all. Yet, I am always on a quest to update or improve my skills and I look to other chefs and their recipes to do just that. You can call it “borrowing” in public, but in professional kitchens we call it good-natured “stealing”, “ripping off” or “dude, I am totally going to steal that from you!!!” It’s meant to be a compliment. It’s even more of a compliment to the chef if you give him or her credit for recipe. I love when someone asks for a recipe, and I am always careful to give credit to the person I learned something from when I use their recipe. As a community of cooks, it’s our job to inspire and support new cooks, and to give credit to those before us who have made recipes so good, we cannot help but say, “dude, I am totally stealing (ahem, borrowing) that!”
Today’s recipe is originally from Chef Tom Douglas’ cookbook, “The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook.” I’ve modified it slightly, and added Coco Lopez (canned cream of coconut) to create another layer of coconut. Feel free to use the recipe as is or make changes to fit your own style of baking! File it in a place you won’t lose it, and in the off chance you ever meet Chef Tom Douglas, tell him you love his coconut pie recipe!
Quadruple Coconut Cream Pie
(Makes one 9-inch pie)
MAKES: 1 (9-inch) piecrust
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 3 to 5 Tbsp. ice water
Pulse all ingredients except water in a blender or food processor 8 to 10 times or until mixture is crumbly. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until dough sticks together when pressed between fingers. (Dough will not form a ball or even clump together in processor—it will be loose.)
Remove dough from processor, form into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough in a 12- to 13-inch circle. Place in a 9-inch pie plate, trimming excess to a 1- to 1-1/2-inch overhang. Turn dough under along rim of pie pan, and flute edges. Chill at least 1 hour before baking.
Preheat oven to 400°. Place a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper in piecrust, extending over edges, and fill with dried beans, rice, or pie weights. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, remove foil and beans (saving beans for your next blind bake!) , and return piecrust to oven. Bake for 14 to 17 more minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven, and cool completely on a wire rack.
Coconut Pastry Cream
- 1 1/2 cups canned coconut milk, shaken to combine (full fat, not the light or sweetened kind)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 Tbsp. Coco Lopez (sweet cream of coconut used for cocktails – optional for extra coconut flavor)
- 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
For The Pie
- One 9-inch Coconut Pie Shell, prebaked and cooled
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 ounces unsweetened large-shred coconut (about 11/2 cups) or sweetened shredded coconut, toasted, for garnish
To make the pastry cream, combine coconut milk, milk, Coco Lopez and coconut in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add seeds and bean to the milk mixture. (Alternately, add vanilla extract or paste.) Place over medium-high heat and scald – stir occasionally until tiny bubbles appear around the edges of the pan, but mixture is not boiling.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and flour. Whisk 1/3 cup of the scalded milk mixture into the egg/flour mixture (this prevents the eggs from scrambling). Whisk the egg mixture into the saucepan of milk/coconut. Whisk over medium-high heat until thickened and beginning to bubble. Continue whisking until very thick, 5-6 minutes. Add butter and whisk until melted. Remove from heat and throw away vanilla bean. Cool quickly by placing mixture in a bowl sitting in a sink or pan of ice water, making sure not to get any water in the mixture. Stir until cool. Cover with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate until cold – it will thicken even more as it cools.
When the pastry cream is cold, spoon into the prebaked pie shell, smoothing the surface. Whip the heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla until firm peaks appear. Put whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe over the surface of the pastry cream (or spoon whipped cream onto pie).
For toasted coconut garnish, preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread coconut on a baking sheet and bake, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Keep your eyes peeled, coconut burns easily. Cool coconut and sprinkle over whipped cream. Serve immediately.