This post was years in the making. YEARS. You see, once a long time ago, when my husband first figured out that I could make food he liked (this was before we were engaged), I had asked him what he wanted me to make him. “A coconut cream pie,” he said, “it’s my favorite type of pie.” And yet, as simple as it would be to just bake one pie, whenever I thought of making a coconut cream pie, I just couldn’t muster the motivation to do it. Opportunity after opportunity went by, and I just could not get in the mood to make this pie. In fact, after enough time had passed it became a running joke between us, the pie that never would be.
And now here we are, a good five years later, halfway across the world, parents, and I still had yet to make him his coconut cream pie. I don’t know what struck me over the holiday but out of the blue, I just decided I would do it. Why not? What was I holding on to by not making this? The fear that I would disappoint him in his favorite type of pie ever? No, he’s pretty amenable to most everything I cook. Maybe it was just the finality of it, that after all this time there’s now been so much expectation that it will seem a bit anticlimactic if it’s not the absolute awesomest coconut cream pie in the world.
Last weekend I decided that I might as well give it a go at this point – I mean it’s been five years, it’s about time I finally give the man his dessert
I was actually quite surprised how much variation there was in the recipes that I found for coconut cream pie, and how few had a meringue topping, opting for whipped cream instead. Meringue is not that hard to make and is a far better marriage with custard than whipped cream because of its light and airy sweetness, much more so than whipped cream ever could be. I settled on Emeril’s recipe because it seemed to have the largest proportion of actual coconut in the pie filling, and since I wanted coconut to be the star, that seemed fair criteria to go by. I was also surprised at how many recipes called for regular cow’s milk in the custard. Why not coconut milk? It is a coconut custard after all, wouldn’t using coconut milk help deliver the most coconut flavor? In general I find that coconut milk usually works great in things like puddings and custards, so didn’t hesitate to substitute it in here.
My favorite part about this pie? I kinda cheated and didn’t make a pie dough. I think this pie is better for it – there’s something sinfully indulgent about dipping your spoon deep into the ramekin to scoop out the delicious coconut custard, and the meringue provides all the lightness you need to balance the sweet richness of the custard. A pie crust I feel would just weigh it down. So I didn’t feel bad about skipping one, and instead of baking this in a pie, just spooned the coconut custard into a bowl and spread some meringue on top. And taking out the steps to make a gluten free pie dough just made making this dessert a whole lot more accessible for me to do again
Coconut Cream Pie (Crustless)
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
Prep Time: 5 min
Total Time: 3 hours
- 200 g shredded unsweetened coconut
- 500 mL coconut milk
- 200 g sugar
- 150 g (three) eggs, separated
- 20 g cornstarch
- beans scraped from 1/2 vanilla pod
- 1 tbs coconut oil or butter
- 50 g sugar
- In a skillet on medium high heat, toast coconut, stirring frequently until lightly browned. Set aside.
- In a saucepan on medium heat, heat coconut milk and 200 g sugar together stirring frequently until simmering.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks. Add about 50 mL of water to the cornstarch to dissolve it in a small bowl.
- Once the coconut milk is simmering, pour a little into the yolks while whisking to loosen them up, and then while whisking constantly, stir the yolks back into the pan. Then add in the cornstarch and vanilla beans.
- Bring back up to a boil, then reduce heat to low and keep stirring until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in toasted coconut and coconut oil, and then chill in the fridge about two hours.
- Once coconut custard is chilled, preheat the oven to about 220 C (400 F). Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then as you continue beating gradually add in sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks have formed.
- Take out the custard from the fridge and spoon into dishes. It makes about enough to fill a pie plate, so for this crustless version you can either fill an empty pie plate, or use ramekins or bowls of an equivalent volume. Spoon meringue on top of the custard, and bake in the oven about four minutes or until meringue browns on top.
- Serve and enjoy!