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Triple Coconut Cream Pie

Serves: Makes 1 (9-inch) pie, 6 to 8 Servings

Ingredients:

  • Coconut Pie Shell:
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup ice water, or more as needed

  • Coconut Pastry Cream:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk, stirred
  • 2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

  • Topping:
  • 2½ cups heavy cream, chilled
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Garnish:
  • Chunk of white chocolate (about 4 to 6 ounces—to make 2 ounces of curls)
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chip or large shred coconut (about 1½ cups), or substitute sweetened shredded coconut


Procedures:

You will need to "blind-bake" the pie shell, which means bake the unfilled pastry lined pan. Use dried beans to weight the bottom of the crust and keep it from puffing up during baking. You can store your "pie beans" in a jar and use them over and over.

Very cold butter will give you a flakier crust. If your butter is not very cold, you could set the diced butter in the freezer for 10 minutes before making your dough.


To make the Coconut Pie Shell: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, coconut, diced butter, sugar, and salt. Pulse to form coarse crumbs. Gradually add the water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing each time. Use only as much water as need for the dough to hold together when gently pressed between your fingers, don’t work the dough with your hands, just test to see if it is holding. (The dough will not form a ball or even clump together in the processor- it will still be quite loose.) Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and dump the coconut dough onto it. Pull the plastic wrap around the dough forcing it into a rough flattened round with the pressure of the plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes to an hour before rolling.

To roll the dough, unwrap the round of coconut dough and put it on a lightly floured board. Flour the rolling pin and your hands. Roll the dough out into a circle about an 1/8-inch thick. (Occasionally lift the dough with a board scraper to check that it is not sticking and add more flour if it seems like it’s about to stick.) Trim to a 12- to 13-inch circle.

Transfer the rolled dough to a 9-inch pie pan. Ease the dough loosely and gently into the pan. You don’t want to stretch dough at this point because it will shrink when it is baked. Trim any excess dough to a 1- to 1½-inch overhang. Turn the dough under along the rim of the pie pan and use your finger to flute the edge. Chill the unbaked pie shell at least an hour before baking. (This step prevents the dough from shrinking in the oven.)

When you are ready to bake the piecrust, preheat the oven to 400° F. Place a piece of foil in the pie shell and fill with dried beans. (This step prevents the bottom of the shell from puffing up during baking.) Bake the piecrust for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry rim is golden. Remove the pie pan from the oven. Remove the foil and beans and return the piecrust to the oven. Bake for another 10 to 12 minutes or until bottom of crust has golden brown patches. Remove piecrust from the oven and allow to cool.

A Step Ahead: the dough can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator for a day or two, or frozen for a few weeks. Also the dough can be rolled out and fitted into a pie pan, and the unbaked pie shell can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated or frozen for the same amounts of time. Frozen pie shells can be baked directly out of the freezer, without thawing.

To make the Coconut Pastry Cream:, combine the milk, coconut milk, and coconut in a medium saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add both the seeds and the pod to the milk mixture. Place the saucepan on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture almost comes to a boil.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and flour until well combined. “Temper” the eggs by pouring a small amount (about ⅓ cup) of the scalded milk into the egg mixture, while whisking. Then add the warmed egg mixture to the saucepan of milk and coconut. Whisk over medium-high heat until the pastry cream thickens and begins to bubble. Keep whisking until the mixture is very thick, about 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the butter and whisk until it melts. Remove and discard the vanilla pod. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and place it over another bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally until it is cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a crust from forming and refrigerate until completely cold. The pastry cream will thicken as it cools.

When the pastry cream is cold, fill the pre-baked Coconut Pie Shell, smoothing the surface. In an electric mixer with the whisk, whip the heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla extract to peaks that are firm enough to hold their shape. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the whipped cream and pipe it all over the surface of the pie.

For the garnish: preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the coconut chips on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes, watching carefully and stirring once or twice until lightly browned, since coconut easily burns. Use a vegetable peeler to scrape about 2 ounces of the white chocolate into curls on top of the pie.

Cut the pie into 6 to 8 wedges and place on dessert plates. Decorate each wedge of pie with the white chocolate curls and the toasted coconut.

by Tom Douglas

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