the greatest reward

…is sharing my pie recipe with you
 
THE COCONUTTIEST CREAM PIE

The judges, still amazed at how great a pie could be.

 
FOR THE CRUST
1 1/4 cups AP Flour
1/2 t. salt
1T sugar
2T flaked coconut
5T unsalted butter, cubed and frozen
5T vegetable shortening, cubed and frozen
2T coconut rum
2T coconut water + 1T coconut water
1 egg

Some tasters, wondering if anything could ever be as good as that Coconut Cream Pie with Salted Coconut shavings. The two in the background are totally arguing about it; the two in the foreground are resigned that no, no it can't.

FOR THE CUSTARD
4 large or 5 medium egg yolks
1/3 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup sugar
14 oz. can coconut milk
1/4 cup half & half
pinch of salt
1 t vanilla
1/2 t coconut rum
1 T Cognac
1 1/2 T lemon juice
2 T butter

FOR THE MERINGUE
4-5 egg whites (the whites from however many eggs you used above)
pinch of salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup coconut water
1/2 t vanilla
1 t coconut rum

PREP THE CRUST
In a food processor (although you could do this part by hand, with a fork) pulse flour, salt, sugar, coconut, butter and shortening. You want to get the coconut really well ground & the fat evenly distributed (if you’re doing this part by hand, you might want to use a knife to mince the coconut first).  It’s also best if the whole thing is cold–I actually throw all those things in the processor the night before I intend to make a crust and just leave it in the freezer until I’m ready. Once it looks sandy or cornmealy or whatever euphemism you prefer-y, drizzle in the rum and then the 2T coconut water. Keep pulsing until it looks even and then spill out onto plastic wrap. TECHNIQUE TIP: this is where I use the heel of my hand to kind of schmear the dough. Supposedly it turns the pebbles of fat into discs of fat, resulting in an excess of flakiness. Then, bring it all into a cohesive disc, wrap it up and throw it in the fridge. Leave it for an hour or two days, whatever your needs require, and then move on.

To roll out the dough, Google a video on how to roll out dough. My suggestion: roll it out directly on parchment, put in on a cookie sheet and chill the whole thing for 10 minutes, then invert your pie plate onto the dough, flip the whole thing over and gently peel the parchment away. (Save the paper though, you’re about to use it again!) You can then fit your crust, shape it, flute the edges, whatever your druthers. If you have warm hands, I suggest chilling it again. Then bake it: Oven preheated to 425, place the parchment back in the pie shell and fill with dry beans or weights–this step ensures your shell remains a shell and doesn’t turn into a puffy pocket of goodness–then bake for about 10 minutes. While it bakes, prepare an egg wash: 1 egg, 1T coconut water. Once the 10 minutes have passed, take the crust out of the oven & remove the beans and parchment. Using a fork, prick all over the bottom and sides of your crust and brush all over with the egg wash. Place back in the oven for about 10-15 more minutes. Keep an eye on it, when it gets pretty, it’s ready.

TO MAKE THE CUSTARD
In a saucepan, whisk together the eggs, flour, coconut milk, half and half and salt. Put it over a medium flame and whisk/stir constantly until it gets thick, your utensil leaves a trail, and you’re tired of all the whisking. Usually you know it’s done when a single bubble boils up in the middle. You can put this through a sieve if you’re worried about lumps. Otherwise, take it off the heat—transferring to a bowl will help it cool off more quickly, but it’s not necessary. Whisk in the Cognac—you could use bourbon, rye, dark rum or even an almond liquor—anything you like that will compliment and add depth to the coconut flavor. Then whisk in the coconut rum, vanilla and lemon juice (which will round out the flavor and give your tongue something to think about besides sweetness.) Last, whisk in the butter. Once all is completely incorporated, pour it into the pie shell. Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard and chill for at least 3 hours. Overnight is cool too—custard pies have to set, yo.

EVENTUALLY YOU’LL START THE MERINGUE
Start by making a simple syrup. Put the coconut water and sugar in a saucepan, swirl it around, set it over a medium flame and leave it alone. If you have a candy thermometer, use it. If you see sugar crystals forming, brush them down with a wet pastry brush.

While that’s working, whip your egg whites, rum and salt until foamy throughout. Once your syrup has reached soft ball stage (240 degrees), take it off the stove and, with your mixer running, or your other hand vigorously whisking, begin to slowly pour the stupidly hot mixture into the egg whites. In so doing you will not only cook the raw egg, but you will have made Italian meringue. Hurrah for you! Once the sugar is all in, add the vanilla and keep beating until you reach stiff peaks 7-10 minutes. Side note: it’s virtually impossible to over-beat meringue when made this way.

Now, you can pipe it on, or just scoop and spread. You can toast the meringue with a torch if you’re daring or in the oven at 400 degrees. You could also throw it under the broiler; or, because it’s fully cooked, you can forgo toasting altogether if that’s not your bag.

Depending on your method of meringue toasting, you might have warmed up the custard so you might want to chill it again for a bit. A warm custard is a runny custard. But deliciousness is ready. And, don’t forget, top it with these. They really are very good. You can also make them yourself, but why go to the trouble.

And there you have it. Award. Winning. Pie. Now that it’s made you can kick back, put your feet up and pipe the remaining meringue directly into your mouth.

Judge, Jordana Rothman, of Time Out NY is really adamant about fluffy meringue.

Luckily, mine was satisfactory!

 

 

 

 

 

 

*All pictures courtesy of the New York Theatre Experiment*

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